Monday at the 2017 Monte-Carlo Masters features a further 10 matches from round one in the first clay court Masters 1000 of the season.
We managed to find Gilles Simon in his best form of the season in terms of results on Sunday when the Frenchman recorded his first straight sets win in best-of-three play since last October, so it was a poor start to the week for our bets.
But there'll be plentry of chances to rectify matter this week in Monaco, starting on Monday.
Viktor Troicki vs Pablo Cuevas
This opening match of the day on Monday on Court Rainier III at around 10am UK time is an interesting one, with the record of Cuevas possibly allowing for a few decent bets here.
Despite all the success that Cuevas has enjoyed on clay courts, with six tour level titles to his name, the Uruguayan has struggled badly at Masters 1000 level on the dirt.
He’s only once been past round two of any clay Masters 1000 tournament and never done better than round three, and much of that is probably down to his poor break of serve percentage.
Of all the players (three haven’t yet played at least 10 matches on clay at this level) in action in Monte-Carlo today only Bernard Tomic and Andreas Seppi have worse break of serve marks than Cuevas’ 18.1%, which tells a tale.
And when we combine that with an excellent service hold mark on this surface at main level over the past year of 87.6% we can see why Cuevas plays a lot of tie breaks (0.24 per set).
Indeed, at Masters 1000 level on clay Cuevas has played at least one breaker in his last seven matches and a total of 12 tie breaks in the 12 matches (31 completed sets) he’s played at this level.
That is an awful lot of tie breaks on clay and a price of 2.70 about there being a tie break in today’s clash with Troicki looks decent on that basis.
His overall win/loss record in those matches is a poor 4-8 and in Monte-Carlo last year in round one he just edged out Daniel Gimeno-Traver in three tie breaks.
Troicki comes into this with confidence after a fine performance in Davis Cup, where he beat Pablo Carreno-Busta in straight sets in singles and also won a five setter in doubles.
He’s been practicing with some guy called Novak Djokovic here in Monte-Carlo for a while, so he should be fit and ready for the challenge of Cuevas.
Troicki holds his serve pretty well on clay, with 78.7% holds in the last year at main level on the red dirt, and he breaks 5% more often than Cuevas too.
The Serbian with a +2.5 game start or the over 22.5 games seem reasonable here, with 10 of Cuevas’ 12 completed Masters 1000 matches on clay going past that overs mark.
When Troicki wins at Masters 1000 level on the clay he does it the hard way, with seven of his last eight wins going all the way back to 2012 being three set affairs.
So, some pretty strong trends in this one, and hopefully they’ll continue to play out on Monday.
The other one I like today is for qualifier Andrey Kuznetsov to make a match of it against one of my outright wagers Tomas Berdych in the 16:00 (approx.) UK time start on Rainier.
The Berdman has struggled to put away opponents in his opening clay match of the season in the last four years, with a loss in 2016 to Damir Dzumhur and narrow wins against opponents who are not comfortable on clay.
In 2015 (the year he made the final) he was a 6-4, 7-6 winner over Sergiy Stakhovsky; in 2014 he beat Dmitry Tursunov 7-5, 6-4; in 2013 it was same score against Marcel Granollers.
In 2012 he played an opening set tie break against Marin Cilic, so he’s gone over 9.5 in set one the last five years in his first match in Monte-Carlo and for the last four he’s failed to cover today’s -4.5 game handicap mark.
On the service hold/break stats over the last 12 months on clay at main level there’s little between Berdych and Kuznetsov, with the Czech on 107.3 (81.4% holds/25.9% breaks), and the Russian on 104.7 (78.3% holds/26.4% breaks).
There was little between the pair in their only career clash (on slow indoor hard) in St. Petersburg last season and Kuznetsov won six more points in a match that he lost in a final set breaker.
Berdych had been off the tour for a month before that match, but he hasn’t played on clay since last year’s French Open, and Kuznetosov is very comfortable on this surface.
He’ll be attuned much better too, having played a long three-setter against Mikhail Youzhny in qualies yesterday and Tomas will do well to cover this handicap, with over 9.5 games in set one also appealing.
For much bigger-priced punts today candidates for a 0-6 drubbing in set two of their matches include Bernard Tomic, Dan Evans and Renzo Olivo.
Steve Darcis and Flo Mayer weren’t too far away at 1-6 and 2-6 yesterday and Bernie and Dan aren’t interested in clay, while Olivo’s stats are very poor at this level and the Argentine may find it tough to hold serve.
You can never rule out Martin Klizan from either giving or taking a bagel and the 100-1 on Nico Almagro dishing one out could be interesting in a match where anything is possible.
1 point win tie break played in Cuevas/Troicki at 2.70
1 point win over 22.5 total games at 2.0
1 point win Kuznetsov +4.5 games to beat Berdych at 1.94