I’m heading off to Rome tomorrow for a few days to watch some of the tennis at the Rome Masters 1000 Series, which will hopefully provide me with some valuable insights for betting purposes, which I’ll include in Friday’s blog all going well. At the time of writing on Monday the tournament was just finishing off the first-round matches, which will be completed by the end of play Tuesday, and the top eight seeds enter the fray on Wednesday.
The first-round news was dominated by eleventh seed Djokovic, who swept past Dolgopolov 6-1 6-3, but this was only the Ukrainian’s second match since the Australian Open, so its hard to judge still how far off his best Djokovic he still is, and the real test for him will be when he comes up against another talented match tough player, and that could be Isner (80/1) in the third round if both players win their second-round matches. Ninth seed Goffin impressed winning his opener against the experienced veteran Leonardo Mayer, who he thrashed 6-2 6-1. Tenth seed Carreno-Busta (66/1) had to work a bit harder to win his opener against the talented young American Donaldson in three sets.
Former top ten player Nishikori (Monte Carlo finalist) got back to winning ways on Monday after losing his last two first-round matches at Barcelona and Madrid. He won his opener against the experienced veteran Lopez in straight sets but faces a potentially tougher test against third seed Dimitrov, who has been playing well on clay so far this season, reaching the semi-finals at Monte Carlo and quarter finals at Barcelona. Nishikori is the favourite, leads the head-to-head 3-1, which were all on hard courts between 2013 and 2017. It’s not a match result I can call with any great confidence, but I think it will be a close encounter that goes to three sets.
There were a few first round upsets; twelfth seed Querrey lost in straight sets against the experienced German Gojowcyzk, Outsider, Ramos-Vinolas overcame a 4-1 head-to-head deficit record against Delbonis, who had beaten the Spaniard in straight sets the last three matches they played, and he did it the hard way coming from a set down.
It was a great start for the NextGen of Italian players; the in-form Italian and Wild Card Sonego, who is ranked around the 200 mark and reached the quarter finals at Budapest from qualifying last week, came from a set down to beat the experienced Mannarino. Another Italian Wild Card Berettini also impressed beating American NextGen star and qualifier Tiafoe in straight sets. New Italian tennis star Cecchinato, who won his first ATP title at Budapest from qualifying two weeks ago and is now ranked in the top-100, gave the home fans plenty to cheer coming from a set down to beat the experienced veteran Cuevas. Fognini rounded off a great first round for the Italians making light work of beating Monfils 6-3 6-1.
Thirteenth seed American Sock won a potentially tricky opener against experienced veteran and former top-ten player Ferrer in straight sets. British number one Kyle Edmunds, who has been in great for so far this year, won a potentially tricky opener against the experienced veteran Jaziri. The all French first round encounter between Paire and Gasquet, surprisingly was won by Paire in straight sets, which was Paire’s first win in six attempts against his compatriot.
At the time of writing the remaining first round matches that were due to be contested were between Verdasco and Dzhumur, which is their first meeting. Madrid finalist and NextGen star Shapovalov and fifteenth seed veteran Berdych, who leads the head-to-head 1-0, face off for the second time and Berdych is the bookies favourite to win this one. Qualifiers Basilashvili and Italian Baldi meet for the first time, fourteenth seed Schwartzman plays qualifier Jarry and Schwartzman is the hot favourite as he’s beaten Jarry twice, on clay and hard courts, and both matches were easy straight sets win.
Arguably the match of the day on Tuesday could be between NextGen stars Coric and qualifier Tsitsipas and this is the first time they’ve met, but it should be an entertaining match with both players being so talented and in form, more so Tsitsipas on clay. Finally, sixteenth seed Pouille, who has not been at his best during the European clay swing losing all three first round matches at Monte Carlo, Budapest and Madrid, was due to face a tough opener against Italian veteran Seppi, who has been in better form of late.
From a betting perspective there’s one second round match I like, which is to oppose Kohlschreiber against Thirteenth seed Sock. The American beat Kohlschreiber in their only previous encounter at Paris indoors back in 2016 and I think he will also be fresher than veteran Kohlschreiber, who has played a lot of tennis on clay recently and was involved in a physically draining three set first round match beating Khachanov 7-5 6-7 7-6.