The Masters 1000 action continues in Rome on Tuesday, with first and second round matches on the schedule at the 2015 Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
It was a decent day’s ATP betting on Monday, with easy wins for my ‘sure thing’ and ‘value’ bets thanks to Phillip Kohlschreiber and Pablo Cuevas.
Kohlschreiber and Cuevas combined for my double, while the latter was never in much danger of not covering the handicap of -4.5 games against the overmatched Paolo Lorenzi.
Jerzy Janowicz wasn’t too far away from making it a possible clean sweep on the day when he took Grigor Dimitrov into a second set tie break, but he lacked composure at the vital times and the Bulgarian took it and the match a set early.
We have 13 ATP matches today in Rome and looking back to last year’s round two at this tournament we saw four underdog winners from 16 matches and Jeremy Chardy’s shock win over Roger Federer at 6.52 was the biggest priced success of the tournament.
Of those 16 round two matches a year ago only four went to a deciding set and only two of 10 round one matches yesterday went to a third set.
Novak Djokovic vs Nicolas Almagro
The three-time Rome Masters champion and current world number one returns from a short break this week and in his first competitive match since April 19 he faces Nico Almagro.
The Spaniard has looked a shadow of the player he was before his foot injury last season and even at his best he was very rarely a match for the elite in the men’s game.
Looking at his record against the top-five since February 2012 Almagro has played 15 such matches and in only two did he manage to win even a set.
One was a stunning win over Rafa Nadal in Barcelona in 2014 and the other was a choke for the ages from two sets up against David Ferrer in the 2013 Australian Open.
Even allowing for Djokovic being slightly rusty I can’t see Almagro taking a set, especially at his current level, and Novak hasn’t dropped a set in his first match in Rome since his debut year in 2007.
The 1.18 about Djokovic winning this 2-0 looks the most solid choice today and this can be doubled with Tomas Berdych also winning 2-0 against Matteo Donati to make a 1.32 wager.
Berdych has won 63 of his 66 matches between 1.02 and 1.10 and the last time he dropped a set on clay to a player ranked outside the top-200 was against Ramon Delgado in Davis Cup way back in 2004.
Philipp Kohlschreiber vs Kevin Anderson
This 15:00 UK time start on a non-televised court looks a good opportunity for Kohlschreiber to continue his good form on the dirt against a player who often looks all at sea on the clay.
Kohlschreiber enjoyed a comfortable win over another opponent who fares poorly on clay in Young yesterday and he brings a good recent record of seven wins from his last nine matches against the big servers on my list into this match.
That includes wins over Milos Raonic, Ivo Karlovic, Jerzy Janowicz and Lukas Rosol and Anderson shouldn’t pose too many problems in these slowish conditions against the German.
Anderson, as I said a few days ago, struggled badly against the slice and peculiar shot choices and style of Flo Mayer and if Kohlschreiber plays somewhere near his best at a tournament he does usually play well at he should be able to cover the -2.5 game handicap.
The South African won the one prior match against Kohlschreiber, but that was on indoor hard and this is a different kettle of fish.
Of those seven wins from the last nine against big servers, Kohlschreiber covered -2.5 games in all six that were played over best-of-three sets.
My long shot today consists of a double that will pay 4.37 if successful and it involves backing Richard Gasquet to win the opening set against David Ferrer and the overs in Thomaz Bellucci vs Diego Sebastian Schwartzman.
Richard Gasquet vs David Ferrer
Gasquet does well here in Rome and has managed to wrestle some of the initiative back in his career match-up with Ferrer by winning their last two matches.
Mentally that will be huge for the brittle Frenchman and the way he beat Ferrer in New York after losing a two set lead will live long in his memory.
Ferrer will have been stunned by his thrashing at the hands of Kei Nishikori in Madrid last week and surely won’t be overflowing with confidence as a result of that.
Gasquet has been competitive early in this match-up of late, with two wins and two losses at 5-7, 6-7 in their last four meetings and he does have the advantage of having one match under his belt here already.
The trend of unders in this tournament could be breached in the first match of the day when Bellucci and Schwartzman clash for the third time and this classic match-up should be swingy.
Bellucci will try and hit the diminutive Argentine off the court, but he’s tough is Schwartzman and he’s in fine form at the moment after winning five of his last six.
The one he did lose was a tight three setter to Roger Federer and Bellucci is likely to have his usual ups and down here that have seen him go over 21.5 in four of his last five matches.
Sure thing: Back Djokovic and Berdych to win 2-0 at 1.32
Value bet: Back Kohlschreiber -2.5 games to beat Anderson at 1.77
Long shot: Back Gasquet to win set one and over 21.5 in Bellucci/Schwartzman at 4.37