Saturday's action at the Rome Masters sees the four quarter-finals take place, and after Grigor Dimitrov provided another winner on Friday, Dan Weston returns to see if he can make it a hat-trick...
"If a player is statistical value in previous rounds, it's quite logical that they'd often be value again in a later round (because there's probably a difference in opinion between the market and data/model) and this is the case here."
Koepfer journey to end against Djokovic
We continued our unbeaten run in Rome this week with Grigor Dimitrov fighting back to get the better of Jannik Sinner in three sets - just about. He required five match points to get over the line after being broken trying to serve the match out, but even despite that drama, match stats suggest that this was a justified win for the Bulgarian.
Sinner joined fellow Italian teenager, Lorenzo Musetti, on the sidelines after Musetti was easily beaten by Dominik Koepfer. I was looking forward to seeing Musetti versus Novak Djokovic today, but sadly Koepfer put paid to that. I have been extremely surprised to see Koepfer's level this week, but I'm still quite sceptical of his future ability - career breakthroughs for a player aged 26 are fairly rare. He might be over-rated in the coming weeks, and according to the markets and my model, is virtually guaranteed to be knocked out by the world number one this afternoon.
Nadal likely to exploit weak Schwartzman serve
This is also the case for the other fairly certain mismatch on the schedule - Diego Schwartzman versus Rafa Nadal. The King of Clay has won all nine of their meetings to date, dropping just two sets out of the 24 competed, and breaking the diminutive Argentine almost 50% of the time. Essentially, this is a meeting of a weak server - Schwartzman - against the best returner on tour - and it's difficult to see anything other than Nadal making it ten out of ten. Nadal is similarly priced to Djokovic, at 1/201.05, to progress.
Impressive Ruud can surprise Berrettini
This leaves two matches which, at least in theory, look much more competitive. In the first match on the schedule, which begins at 1100 UK time, Matteo Berrettini faces Casper Ruud and I think the talented Norwegian, Ruud, looks some value as the 11/82.38 underdog here. Over the last 18 months, he actually has better clay data and has a straight-set win over Berrettini on the surface at the French Open last year as well.
I've been really impressed with Ruud this week - he's beaten three top 50 players - and I think he has a decent chance of picking up a top 10 scalp today.
Dimitrov looking like value to complete hat-trick
However, it's back to our man Dimitrov again to find our recommendation - we are going for the hat-trick. If a player is statistical value in previous rounds, it's quite logical that they'd often be value again in a later round (because there's probably a difference in opinion between the market and data/model) and this is the case here, with Dimitrov priced as the marginal 1/12.02 underdog to defeat Denis Shapovalov.
This price confuses me - if we look at medium and longer term clay data, Dimitrov has much better numbers than Shapovalov, and has better data accumulated so far in this tournament as well, with a notable edge on return. Considering all this, it's the Bulgarian again who is our pick to make tomorrow's semi-finals.
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Back Grigor Dimitrov at 1/12.02 to beat Denis Shapovalov