The Internazionali BNL D’Italia continues on Tuesday at the Foro Italico in Rome and Sean Calvert is back with his assessment of the value bets available at this Masters 1000 event on the clay.
We got off to a good start at the Rome Masters on Monday when Gianluca Mager provided us with a 2.50 winner with a straight sets win over Alex De Minaur.
Moving on to Tuesday and rain is set to arrive in Rome on Tuesday afternoon and continue until at least Wednesday morning, with showers and more rain forecast for the rest of the week, so probably only the early matches will get played on time on Tuesday.
Dusan Lajovic is on a poor run at the moment, losing five matches in a row and all four he’s played on the clay swing so far, but he looks a nice price to stop the rot against John Millman.
Lajovic has been a little unlucky in the sense that he’s had three awkward match-ups in Dan Evans, Federico Delbonis and then Denis Shapovalov (at altitude) but there wasn’t much of an excuse against Mackenzie McDonald in Munich.
The Serb should find that the more predictable style of Millman suits him better and all things being equal I’d price Lajovic up at more like 1.65 against someone like Millman on slowish clay.
He was a 1.80 chance (backed in to 1.58 by the start) when he beat Millman comfortably in Istanbul three years ago, but that was just after Millman had made the Budapest final and didn’t have much gas left in the tank.
Millman tries on the clay, but doesn’t have the weapons to do a great deal, as his hold/break total of 95.8 in the last three seasons (since the start of 2019) at main level shows.
Lajovic should be doing much better than he is at present and even after a poor run lately on the dirt he’s still over 100 in his hold/break numbers (101.3) since the start of 2019, so at 1.83 (Unibet) I’m happy to back Lajovic.
I was a little tempted by Grigor Dimitrov as underdog against the inconsistent Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, but a couple of things put me off: the likely slow conditions and Dimi’s record as dog on clay.
The Bulgarian has lost 17 of his last 22 main level matches on clay when priced up as underdog, so I think I’ll pass on that one, even though he’s got an early start time on Tuesday, so will miss the rain and get more suitable conditions.
Kamil Majchrzak is pretty decent on clay at Challenger level, where he’s won 17 of his last 24 matches, but he’s yet to win on the tour on the clay in the only two matches he’s played on the dirt at this level.
He’s got power and can be dangerous, but hopefully our 300-1 outright shot Denis Shapovalov can deal with the Pole, having seen slated round one opponent Casper Ruud pull out due to a wrist injury.
It’s obviously a very tight turnaround from Madrid for Matteo Berrettini and he hasn’t been helped by the organisers scheduling him second on at around 11:30 am local time.
It should be OK in terms of the weather at that time and mercurial Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili is certainly capable of exposing any problems that Berrettini has acclimatising to very different conditions from those he played in less than two days ago in Madrid.
You never know with Basil, but he’s one of the more tempting underdogs of the day – maybe to win the opening set at around the 3.0 mark.
As I mentioned in my outright preview, Roberto Bautista Agut doesn’t have much of a record here, with just one appearance in the last-16 to his name, and really slow conditions don’t suit him that well for me.
I’ve always liked him more on the quicker surfaces, where he gets more from his own ground strokes and serve and he could get drawn into a grind against Tommy Paul, who’s qualified here.
RBA beat Paul pretty comfortably in Monte-Carlo on the clay recently as a 1.29 shot and at the same price I may have taken Paul, but RBA’s bigger this time at 1.36 generally, so maybe not much value in Paul, who spent almost 4.5 hours on court to qualify.
Any delay in that match might well help Paul, but his price is too short for me at the moment, and it’s scheduled for 10am local time, so should get completed comfortably if the forecast is correct.
Moving on to round two and this has been a good round for underdog backers lately, with 50% of those priced up as underdog winning last year and 40% of them have won on average in the last three years (falls to 29% over the last eight years).
Of the second round matches that are scheduled for Tuesday it’s touch and go (assuming the forecast is right) that many of them will get played and it would appear that Aslan Karatsev vs Daniil Medvedev won’t get on.
Diego Schwartzman vs Felix Auger-Aliassime and Federico Delbonis vs David Goffin are also doubtful, so it could be the case that only Novak Djokovic vs Taylor Fritz and Kei Nishikori vs Pablo Carreno Busta of the round two matches get on court on Tuesday.
Fritz gave Djokovic a mighty scare at the Australian Open in February when the American came back from two sets down and that match was memorable mainly for some classic Djokovic overplaying of an injury.
The Serb was a 1.03 chance that day, but now he’s as big as 1.25 against Fritz, which suggests that all isn’t perhaps as well as it could be in the Djokovic camp after he lost to Karatsev at his home club and then pulled out of Madrid.
Fritz played pretty well against Dan Evans on Monday, but this price is too short for me to take an interest in him on this surface against Djokovic.
But I’ll take a chance on Kei Nishikori as underdog against Pablo Carreno Busta having watched the Japanese player show some really nice form on Monday against Fabio Fognini, who only really played well for one period of the opening set.
Fognini was great for three games of that one, but was outplayed by Nishikori for most of the rest of the match and on that form I’d give Nishi a very good chance of beating PCB, who rarely looks at home at the Foro Italico.
PCB struggled early on against Laslo Djere on Sunday, falling almost a set and a break down before turning things around against the Serb, who served poorly in set two, which helped PCB get back into it.
The Spaniard also had the trainer out for a back problem towards the end of set one of that match and I wonder how fit he is for Tuesday’s encounter?
That win over Djere brought PCB’s career record in Rome up to 5-5 win/loss and only once in 10 matches here has he won in straight sets – against Gilles Simon in 2017 – and that win over Simon is the only time that PCB has beaten a top-45 ranked player at the Rome Masters.
At the time of writing Nishikori is a 2.10 chance (Bet 365) and I’m happy with that price for small stakes.
1 point win Lajovic to beat Millman at 1.83 (Unibet)
0.5 points win Nishikori to beat Carreno Busta at 2.10 (Bet 365)