The first round of the 2016 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters continues on Monday, with 13 matches on the card at the Monte-Carlo Country Club on day two.
We ended the week in Marrakech with a win for those who took the 2-0 to Federico Delbonis over Borna Coric in the final in Morocco as a single, but we were a tad unlucky with the ‘long shot’ double.
The -3.5 games on Jack Sock was looking decent after he took set one over Juan Monaco 6-3, but soon afterwards Sock called for a MTO for an arm injury and he tanked set two before a bizarre match that saw both men with the physio out ended with Sock unable to move and serving underarm.
Play starts early at 09:30 UK time on Monday in this busy Masters 1000 week and we’re really spoiled for choice as regards ‘sure things’, with several options for that particular wager today.
Alexander Zverev vs Andrey Rublev
This 09:30 start between two of the likely stars of the future should go the way of Zverev, who has made much bigger strides than Rublev of late
Both of these 18-year-olds have a bright future ahead of them by the looks of things, but at tour level it’s been Zverev who has impressed, with a dozen top-50 wins so far in his career and five already this season.
Indeed, he should have added a top-five win to his CV at Indian Wells when he missed a sitter to beat Rafa Nadal, while Rublev hasn’t been mixing it in quite the same company.
A win at the Quimper Challenger on hard courts has been the highlight of his season so far, but on clay the Russian has won only one of his six matches since June 2015.
Last week he was beaten in Marrakech qualies by Lorenzo Giustino and he seems more at home on hard courts, while Zverev enjoys the clay and has won 14 of his last 18 on the surface at all levels.
What’s been impressive about Zverev this year has been the complete list of players who have beaten him, which reads: Andy Murray, Tomas Berdych (twice and both in final sets), Gael Monfils, Nadal, Lukas Rosol, Paul-Henri Mathieu, and Steve Johnson.
Should he bring his 2016 level into this match he should win it and he gets the nod at 1.32 ahead of those at shorter prices that should have few problems, such as Monfils, Milos Raonic, Dominic Thiem, and Grigor Dimitrov.
Albert Ramos vs Roberto Bautista-Agut
Today’s ‘long shot’ is to take a chance on Ramos in this all-Spanish affair, which will take place at around 10:00 UK time on Monday.
It will be seventh career clash between the pair of a series that Ramos leads 4-2, but they haven’t met at any level since 2011 when Ramos was the world number 71 and RBA down at 181 in the rankings.
This one is more about a couple of other factors than the head-to-head – namely fatigue and surface.
Bautista-Agut has, unsurprisingly, looked a tad drained of late after a huge effort in the early part of the season that saw him win two titles, but he has played 64 sets of tennis this year as a consequence.
Ramos has a more normal amount of 41 sets under his belt this season and it’s been a decent one, with wins over Nick Kyrgios, Hyeon Chung, Feli Lopez and Borna Coric.
I always feel that with RBA that he’s more at home on quicker surfaces, which is unusual for a Spaniard, but he’s no typical Spanish clay courter, and he hasn’t won more than two straight matches on the dirt in his last nine tournaments.
Ramos has won as a 3.0 underdog or bigger four times in his last 10 matches in that price range and he has a shot again today.
Lucas Pouille vs Nicolas Mahut
The notion that Mahut can’t play on clay (and on slow surfaces in general) isn’t really the case, as he’s proven many times, including last year’s French Open when he beat Ernests Gulbis and took Gilles Simon to five sets.
He also beat Dominic Thiem here in Monte-Carlo in 2014 and he made the semis on a slow surface in Rotterdam a few months ago as a qualifier.
Mahut has won his two career meetings with Pouille and the latter has such a dire record against fellow Frenchman that all things considered he can’t be much value as a 1.50 chance.
Pouille is very in and out and a fine example of this can be seen in his last tournament results where he lost to Malek Jaziri in the Guadalajara Challenger and then beat David Ferrer and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in Miami.
But his 1-10 record against fellow countrymen at main level hardly inspires me to back him today and Mahut at 2.60 looks like a decent value option on Monday in Monte-Carlo.
Sure thing: Back Zverev to beat Rublev at 1.32
Value bet: Back Mahut to beat Pouille at 2.60
Long shot: Back Ramos to beat Bautista-Agut at 3.10