The clay court tennis continues on Sunday in week 15 of the ATP World Tour, with finals in Houston and Marrakech and the start of the Monte-Carlo Masters.
Our outright interest in week 15 ended with defeat for 33-1 chance Jiri Vesely at the Grand Prix Hassan II, but we covered that outright stake and more by backing Borna Coric on Saturday.
And I chose the wrong bet in hindsight in the Jack Sock versus Stevie Johnson match, in which any of the other wagers based on opposing Sock would have won, as Johnson came from a set down to win.
I’d never have called a Johnson vs Thomaz Bellucci final here in these circumstances and the prospect of betting on it leaves me cold, while over in Marrakech I’d expect Philipp Kohlschreiber to win the title, but he is a tad short in price at 1.43.
But we have three main draw matches from the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters to look at on Sunday and conditions at this Masters 1000 event at the Monte-Carlo Country Club are very similar to those usually encountered at the French Open.
Consequently, Rafa Nadal has won here a lot over the years, but more on that in my outright preview to come later.
Looking back at the results from the last three years in Monaco we find that bagel sets are just as likely, if not more likely, than tie breaks, with just 43 tie break matches from the last 162 played.
That equates to a 1.37 chance of ‘no tie breaks’ and 3.70 on ‘tie break played’ and in last year’s round one in Monte-Carlo a quarter of the matches had a 6-0 set in them – the same total as there were tie break matches (six from 24).
Gilles Simon vs Malek Jaziri
The head-to-head in favour of Simon may have given us a sniff of an opportunity in this 14:00 (approx.) UK time start on Court Rainier III, with Simon in such poor form of late he didn’t make the depleted French team for the Davis Cup.
Yannick Noah chose Jeremy Chardy ahead of Simon, with Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet all out and that’s perhaps not that shocking given the state of Gillou’s last performance – a thrashing at the hands of Jan-Lennard Struff.
Indeed, Simon hasn’t won a match since February and he hasn’t won one in straight sets since the Australian Open, so his form (and probably confidence) isn’t up to much just now.
And looking at Simon’s service hold/break stats from the past year (11 matches) at main level on clay we find that the Frenchman’s are actually worse than Jaziri’s and I’m sure the Tunisian wouldn’t list clay as his favoured surface.
Gillou has held serve only 72.5% of the time and where he’s usually up in the 30% plus mark in breaks of serve he’s managed just 22.8 in those last 11 matches on the red dirt.
And Jaziri has been getting better, both on the clay and in general, and looking at his matches on the dirt in 2016 versus top-50 opponents we find that Jaziri took set one against Alexander Zverev and Benoit Paire and set two against Tomas Berdych in his three matches.
He lacks the raw power of a Struff, but he’s playing well at the moment and he just needs to improve his dismal first serve percentage if he wants to crack the top-30, having reached his career high rank of 47 a couple of months ago.
Simon hasn’t played on clay since a straight sets thrashing at the hands of Thiago Monteiro in Gstaad last July and he clearly showed little in practice at the Davis Cup.
The Frenchman is a notoriously slow starter anyway (lost set one in eight out of his 12 matches this year) so the 2.48 about Jaziri winning the opener looks the pick of Sunday’s wagers in Monaco.
I wouldn’t be shocked if the 6-0 sets trend continued today, with Florian Mayer and Steve Darcis possible candidates for heavy defeats.
Mayer’s fitness is complete guesswork and if he’s not able to compete physically Joao Sousa might well run all over the German and Sousa did bagel Edouard Roger-Vasselin here two years ago.
David Goffin has dished out a few too, bagelling Feli Lopez here last season, and he knows the Darcis game so well that the latter could well raise the white flag if he’s a long way behind in the match.
All speculative of course and Jaziri looks the best option on day one.
1 point win Jaziri to win set one at 2.48