The clay swing of the 2013 ATP World Tour continues in Monte Carlo, as the players switch to Monaco for this week’s Masters 1000 event. The opening clay Masters tournament of the season has been Rafa Nadal’s own personal preserve over the last eight years, with the Spaniard compiling a 44-1 record and winning eight straight
The stars will be on show from Wednesday, but for today it’s first round action. There are some trappy-looking encounters on Monday’s schedule in an event where last year 15 favourites won from 24 first round matches.
I think the best value pick today is Daniel Brands at around 2.25 to beat the struggling Nikolay Davydenko, who is vulnerable on the red dirt these days. Since winning the title in Hamburg in 2011, Davydenko has been beaten as a 1.50 favourite or shorter nine times in 12 clay events and this is his first match on the dirt for almost a year.
Brands has played two matches in qualifying here this week and dished out a double bagel thrashing to another Russian, Igor Andreev, before coming through a much tighter encounter against Thiemo de Bakker yesterday. Andreev was coming back from a long time out with injury, so that result wasn’t all it appears, but the German has the game to beat Davydenko.
They have only met on one previous occasion, which was on grass back in 2010. Brands won on a surface that Davydenko loathes, but there are far too many doubts about Davy these days to take a 1.62 quote about him winning first up here.
After beginning the season in what seemed to be his form of a few years ago, Davydenko has only once been past the second round of any tournament and looked all at sea last time out against Alex Dolgopolov in Miami.
Best bet: Back Brands to beat Davydenko at 2.25