Tsitsipas on the brink during victory over Dimitrov
We picked up a welcome winner on Wednesday to buck a run of pretty tough results with Sebastian Baez covering the game handicap against Alexander Zverev, while there was an easy win for Rafa Nadal, dropping just four games over John Isner.
Stefanos Tsitsipas was close to the exit door, saving two match points against Grigor Dimitrov in the third set, in a match which what was much closer than last week in Madrid - where I did anticipate more of a tight encounter. Stan Wawrinka continued his fighting run, defeating Laslo Djere in three sets as a heavy underdog.
Wawrinka facing big step up with Djokovic clash
Wawrinka's reward today is a clash against top seed Novak Djokovic, and the market anticipates that his run will come to an end this afternoon. The world number one is just 1.071/14 to get the better of Wawrinka, and no doubt this is a huge step up for Wawrinka over the recent opposition that he's faced. It will be fascinating to see where he is at.
Djokovic's price is the shortest for a favourite today, but every single other favourite are priced around 1.3030/100 or below, with the exception of Marin Cilic against Christian Garin. So, there are in theory at least, a number of mismatches on the third round schedule.
Brooksby with fascinating clash against Ruud
It's difficult to dispute the majority of those favourites, but one match which I'm looking forward to is Jenson Brooksby versus Casper Ruud. Brooksby is obviously a player of very high potential, and is now translating that into results, although is rather unproven on clay - until this week.
The American has picked up his first two main tour clay victories in his career here at Rome this week, and his first-set bagel over David Goffin in a straight-set victory where he dominated, winning 60% of points in the match, was a suggestion that he's getting things together on the surface as well.
Opponent Ruud is an excellent clay-courter - he's running at 109% combined service/return points won in the last 12 months on the surface - but if this match was played on hard court, the prices would be much closer than the current 1.271/4 about the Norwegian. Given Brooksby's upside, again, it will be interesting to see where he is at right now on the surface ahead of the French Open.
Cilic a justified favourite over Garin
Moving on to the only anticipated close match on the schedule, Cilic looks a justified favourite at 1.574/7 over Christian Garin, with numbers suggesting he has an edge over the Chilean on clay. The veteran impressed yesterday against Cameron Norrie, fighting back from a first-set loss to drop just three games in the latter two sets.
Cilic's recent losses have come against good opposition - he was pipped by Alexander Zverev in Madrid last week in three sets, and lost another three setter to eventual winner Baez in Estoril in his match prior. He also was pretty competitive against Carlos Alcaraz in Miami too. That kind of form line suggests he will have too much for Garin today, but it's tough to dispute the market pricing right now.
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