First round action at the Rome Masters continues on Tuesday, with another 12 matches taking place on day two. Dan Weston returns to give his thoughts...
"It would be great to have a year or two of Raonic with no injury problems as I think he could be a genuine top five player at this current era."
Watching brief continues for the opening round
With Tuesday's schedule solely devoted to concluding round one at the Rome Masters, our watching brief continues - many players are yet to step on a clay court this year, and there is little in the way of exposure when it comes to being able to accurately assess player levels.
Competing to join yesterday's 11 first-round winners are 24 further players looking to make round two. Only 23 players advance from round one due to Pablo Carreno-Busta getting a first-round bye (as well as the eight seeds) following his exploits at the US Open, where he reached the semi-finals.
So, it's a rather similar theme to yesterday. We continue to watch and assess this round with a view to looking at round two, but I will still discuss a number of the matches and have a look at the more longer-term numbers behind them.
Davidovich Fokina an interesting one to watch
There's some good young players in action today who I'm keen to see, with Alejandro Davidovich Fokina taking on Dusan Lajovic and Pedro Martinez Portero facing Sam Querrey. Both players have extremely high potential - Davidovich Fokina is running at 108% combined service/return points won on clay in Challengers across the last 12 months, for example, but he does look short at [1.42] against Dusan Lajovic, who has been poor since lockdown and has lost 5/5 after retiring in the Adria Cup in June but reached the final of the Monte Carlo Masters in 2019. Having said that, Davidovich Fokina has a lot of future upside so it will be interesting to see how he fares today.
Pella and Edmund with potential to progress
Denis Shapovalov is another one who looks short in what is an almost even-money match against Guido Pella. The Canadian has unimpressive clay court data over the last few years and has a lot to prove to me on the surface - against a genuine clay courter who already has several matches under his belt on the surface this year. Pella doesn't look bad at [1.94].
I also quite like Kyle Edmund at [2.12] against Marco Cecchinato. Edmund has decent long-term clay data and Cecchinato's numbers aren't anything special. When Cecchinato reached his peak he had quite high break point overperformance and I don't see him getting back towards that peak ranking. He's qualified to be here though, so that is a positive for Cecchinato purely in terms of getting matches under his belt.
Raonic a heavy favourite over Mannarino
I'm also interested to see how Milos Raonic fares against Adrian Mannarino. He fared well in the Western & Southern Open - albeit on hard court - and lost a tight match against countryman Vasek Pospisil at the US Open. It would be great to have a year or two of Raonic with no injury problems as I think he could be a genuine top five player in this current era. Raonic is [1.23] to get the win and that looks about right against an opponent with little in the way of clay pedigree.
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