ATP Tennis Betting: Struff's clay skills key in Querrey clash

We have 10 matches from round two of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia to consider on Wednesday, as the Masters 1000 action continues in Rome.

It was a couple of unfit Frenchmen that cost me on Tuesday in Rome as the misery of the red dirt swing continued.

The clash between Adrian Mannarino and Pablo Cuevas turned out to be a competitive one, as expected, and those who took the +4.5 games on the Frenchman would have been in profit.

My advice of backing tie break played in this one at a price of at least 2.75 was a winner in that one too, but again, as there was no market available, it goes down as a loss on the P&L.

Afterwards, Mannarino said: “This match I could not play it normally. I was constantly trying to protect my hip. I felt at least 30 times a real pain and as a result I was less focused on the match. Now against a player of this level, if I am not 100%, it becomes very complicated.”

Nicolas Mahut was up an early break on Benoit Paire in both sets, but collapsed from that point twice, and didn’t look comfortable in the heat. He also complained of an elbow injury and said: “I lack gas. I hurt a little everywhere.”

At least David Goffin got through another tricky test against a dangerous leftie when he took down Fernando Verdasco from a set down, but who knows how much he has left in the tank now. The day off will hopefully help.

Jan-Lennard Struff vs Sam Querrey

There’s a lot to like about the chances of Struff in this one, with the German having compiled some good results and stats in this clay swing and he’s comfortably ahead of the American in most areas on the dirt.

Struff is over the 100 mark in his hold/break stats on clay at main level over the past year (17 matches), with a 103.8 total comprised of 81.6% holds and 22.2% breaks.

That’s a good 10 percent better than Querrey, who holds serve exactly as often, but breaks only 11.5% of the time in his last 10 matches at main level on clay.

Querrey has won only four of his last 18 matches versus top-50 opponents (Struff is 46 in the live rankings) on clay and three of those were in Houston, with his very tight win over Lucas Pouille in round one a bit of a trend buster.

Pouille led in both tie breaks in that match, but failed to put Querrey away, and the Frenchman had been ill and said he only returned to training two days prior to the Querrey match.

Querrey has never been beyond the last-32 in Rome and that win over Pouille improves his awful record here to 3-7, but he shouldn’t really be going much further on his least favoured surface.

It will probably involve a tie break, so Struff will need to keep his suspect nerves under control, but he has the power to keep Querrey on the back foot and his better all-round game on clay should see him through.

Jack Sock vs Jiri Vesely

Although Sock and Vesely have almost exactly the same hold/break stats on clay at main level over the last 12 months I did expect the American to be a little shorter in price than 1.50.

When this pair met on a slow outdoor hard court a few months ago in Miami the American was a 1.3 chance, winning that one in straight sets, so it’s a little puzzling that Sock is 1.50 on Wednesday.

OK, this one is on clay, but Vesely has done very little this season on any surface and the Czech’s record against the better players on tour is really quite poor.

Vesely has won one (a stunning upset of a fatigued Novak Djokovic) of his 10 on clay versus top-20 opposition and on all surfaces he’s 4-26 and he’s won two of his last 23.

Last week Vesely was beaten by Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Challenger here in Rome and a comfortable win over clay-averse Dan Evans in round one this week is hardly anything to write home about.

Sock has a good record against lefties, with a 73% winning record at main level versus left-handers, and he’s won his last three (one was at the Hopman Cup) against Vesely.

It’s been a bit of a lean time for Sock since winning Delray Beach and making back-to-back Masters 1000 quarter finals in Miami and Indian Wells and his three set win over Diego Schwartzman will have done him some good.

Vesely’s poor record against the better players and the bigger tournaments and losing record against Sock, combined with a disappointing season so far suggests to me that the Czech should be a bit bigger in price than he is and -2.5 games on Sock looks the wager.

Elsewhere, Tommy Haas struggles with today’s big servers and was bageled by Milos Raonic the last time they met, so after a tough battle with Ernesto Escobedo on Tuesday we could well see Raonic cover the handicap here.

Kei Nishikori should also be a comfortable winner over David Ferrer, but his wrist injury has to be a bit of a concern, while surely Rafa Nadal won’t slip up against Nico Almagro.

Rafa did lose to Almagro once in their 15-match career series, but the King of Clay has won their last nine sets, with only one set going past 10 games, and it’ll take more than possible post-Madrid fatigue for Almagro to win this.

Nadal has no real history of struggling in his opening match in Rome, being extended to three sets only twice since 2008, and an upset seems unlikely.

No tie breaks looks a decent wager in the matches featuring Nishikori, Raonic and Stan Wawrinka, with Stan and Benoit Paire on a run of no breakers in their last 15 sets against each other.

Paire has a low tie breaks per set mark of 0.08 anyway on clay at main level, but even lower are Nishikori (0.03) and Ferrer (0.07), while Raonic should be much too powerful for Haas.

Best Bets
2 points win Struff to beat Querrey at 1.76
2 points win Sock -2.5 games to beat Vesely at 1.90