With the top two ATP favourites in quarter-final action today, our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, checks out both the matches and thinks there is some value on Novak Djokovic to repeat his Rome display against Dominic Thiem...
"Quite simply, 12 month clay data has the Serb as the better player - he has held serve 81.2% of the time, breaking opponents 39.8% (combined 121.0%) with Thiem’s numbers of 83.5% and 32.3% combining to 115.8%."
Nadal and Djokovic in quarter-final action on day 10
As with today's WTA action, men's quarter-finals are played at the same time, and not before 2:30pm UK time, tournament favourite Rafa Nadal takes on his countryman, Pablo Carreno-Busta, while Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem combine in a repeat of their Rome semi-final several weeks ago.
King of Clay almost certain to beat countryman Carreno-Busta
Not only is Rafa a strong favourite at [1.57] to win the event, he's an overwhelming favourite to dispose of his fellow Spaniard today, at a current [1.04] on the Exchange. My model also priced the King of Clay at [1.04], in agreement with the pre-match market.
This pricing was largely down to Nadal's truly incredible 47.4% break opponent percentage, and against a player that can only boast service numbers around the ATP clay mean, it's likely that Nadal will be able to pressurise Carreno-Busta's serve relatively consistently in this match-up.
However, with no pre-match value arising here, we must look to the second match on the schedule, between Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic.
Djokovic value to continue Thiem match-up difficulties
Several people have mentioned to me on social media that they think Thiem is priced generously at the current [3.00], but actually I like Djokovic at [1.48] to get past the Austrian.
Quite simply, 12 month clay data has the Serb as the better player - he has held serve 81.2% of the time, breaking opponents 39.8% (combined 121.0%) with Thiem's numbers of 83.5% and 32.3% combining to 115.8%.
Furthermore, Djokovic has had little trouble with Thiem in their previous five head to head matches, dropping just one set, and this set was the only one where he didn't win by at least a 6-4 margin. Djokovic has also bageled Thiem in each of their last two encounters, and completely schooled Thiem several weeks ago in Rome, 6-1 6-0.
Game handicap a solid option
This head to head record certainly has the potential to indicate match-up difficulties for Thiem, and my model priced Djokovic as a [1.41] favourite to progress.
Given the lopsided nature of their head to head meetings in the past, it seems reasonable to also look at quite aggressive game handicap options. However, the Exchange line is just a current -1.5 game handicap for Djokovic, but this looks pretty generous at [1.66] - I'd be extremely surprised if Djokovic won the match and didn't cover this line.
Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings
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