The Rome Masters final takes place on Sunday afternoon, and our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, is back to check out the value in the battle between Rafa Nadal and Alexander Zverev...
"For Zverev to take any chance, however, he will need to solve the issue which has enabled Nadal to pressure his serve considerably in these previous meetings. In these, Nadal has created a huge 0.78 break point chances per game, and these contribute to Zverev only holding 61.0% of the time against the Spaniard."
Favourites dominate again in the latter stages of Rome
As with the quarter-finals, the two favourites won through yesterday in the Rome Masters semi-finals, with Rafa Nadal taking the honours against Novak Djokovic, in what was a more even match than a usual straight-sets victory. This was also the case as Alexander Zverev edged Marin Cilic, 7-6 7-5, with the Croat wasting five set points in the opening set tiebreak.
Zverev with much to prove from head to head meetings
Following this, Nadal is [1.20] to take the title by beating the German youngster, and in their previous meetings, he's always managed this, leading their personal record 4-0. On clay, Nadal has found all the answers against Zverev, not having dropped a set in five meetings.
Although Nadal has been dominant in these previous head to head matches, it's fair to say that Zverev has greatly improved than his level in the first three - the final one was in the Davis Cup last month - and Nadal will perhaps face a different opponent today than in previous meetings.
Zverev will need to improve serve to stand a chance
For Zverev to take any chance, however, he will need to solve the issue which has enabled Nadal to pressure his serve considerably in these previous meetings. In these, Nadal has created a huge 0.78 break point chances per game, and these contribute to Zverev only holding 61.0% of the time against the Spaniard.
Even at these short prices, my model indicated value on the King of Clay, which really is quite indicative of both Nadal's level on his preferred surface, and also how far ahead of the competition he really is.
Fatigue surely a major issue now for Zverev
In addition, Zverev is sure to be feeling it physically - this is his third final in consecutive weeks - and it's doubtful that he's going to be in the peak condition required to get the better of Nadal.
Furthermore, Nadal has a very strong record of covering these -4.5 game handicap lines when a similarly priced favourite (between 1.10 and 1.30) so recommending the current [1.72] about him to do so today makes a lot of sense.
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Back Rafa Nadal -4.5 games at [1.72] to beat Alexander Zverev