NextGen star 20 year old Borna Coric made amends for his final defeat at Marrakech in 2016 by going on to win his maiden ATP title there yesterday. He had to do it the hard way this year as he was unseeded and in the final he saved five match points in the second set tiebreak before going on to defeat third seed Kohlschreiber 7-5 7-6 7-5. Over in Houston on the green clay fourth seed Steve Johnson became the fourth American player in the last seven seasons to win the title when he defeated eight seed Bellucci in yesterday’s final, which was his second ATP Tour level title after winning Nottingham last season.
On to this week’s ATP action and we have the third Masters 1000 Series tournament (first on clay) of the season at Monte Carlo. Roger Federer who has dominated and won all of this season’s major tournaments, including the two Masters Series events at Indian Wells and Miami, has wisely chosen to bypass this year’s event in favour of rest. Fourth seed and defending champion Rafa Nadal has dominated Monte Carlo since 2005 winning a record nine titles and he will aim to win a 10th title this year and do the same at Barcelona and Roland Garros where he has also won a record nine titles.
Monte Carlo has been dominated by the top five seeds over the last decade, one of the world’s current top five Djokovic, Wawrinka or Nadal has won the last ten titles and a player seeded no higher than 13 was a losing finalist the last ten seasons. The top seed has won three of the last ten titles (last Djokovic 2015) and they were a losing finalist five times in this period (last Djokovic 2013), which suggests Murray has a decent chance statistically of reaching the final. The second seed has won four of the last ten titles (last Nadal 2012), none since 2012, and they were never a losing finalist in this period, which does not bode well for second seed Djokovic’s chances this year.
Top seed Murray, whose best result at Monte Carlo is three semi-final appearances (2016, 2011 and 2009) has avoided Djokovic and Nadal in the draw and if he was entering Monte Carlo with some competitive match play under his belt and without injury concerns (elbow) he would be of interest from a betting perspective. However, with too many doubts he can’t be backed with any confidence this week.
Third seed Stan Wawrinka (13/2) resides in the top half of the draw and fits the statistical profile of a potential finalist/winner this year. He is a former winner of this tournament in 2015 and has been in good form this year reaching the Australian Open semis and Indian Wells final. If he can repeat that level of form this week he will be difficult to stop reaching the final. As a fail-safe, seventh seed Tsonga (28/1) is also worth siding with in the top-half of the draw this week as he’s been in good form this year winning two titles at Rotterdam and Marseille, he reached the semi-finals here last year and has beaten Wawrinka on clay here and at other tournaments in the past.
From the bottom half of the draw fourth seed Nadal (11/4) has to be backed to win a record 10th Monte Carlo title this week, while sixth seed Thiem (9/2) is worth siding with to win the Fourth Quarter given Djokovic’s poor form so far this season and the record of the second seed at Monte Carlo over the last decade.
From A first round match betting/trading perspective there are a few matches that catch the eye. Qualifier Klizan, Wild Card Chardy and 13th seed Carreno-Busta all have winning form against their respective first round opponents Almagro, Coric and Fognini and are worth backing in a treble at around 3/1. Veterans Feliciano Lopez (1.6) and Kohlschreiber (1.44) are worth opposing against Next Gen star Medvedev and qualifier Berlocq respectively.