Tennis betting tips: Rolex Monte Carlo Masters
1pt ew Casper Ruud at 14/1 (Betfred)
0.5pt ew Diego Schwartzman at 55/1 (Unibet)
0.5pt ew Fabio Fognini at 80/1 (Sky Bet, Unibet)
Rolex Monte Carlo Masters
- Monte Carlo, Monaco (outdoor clay)
The first of three Claycourt Masters 1000 tournaments is this week’s dish served up by the ATP Tour and the draw has thrown up a potentially tasty course.
World number one Novak Djokovic is in the same quarter of the draw as everyone’s expected future world number one, Carlos Alcaraz, who arrives off the back of his recent Masters success in Miami.
That means only one of the top two in the betting can reach the semi-finals and the likelihood is that one will.
Djokovic is actually the bookies’ favorite at a best price of 3/1 but that’s too short for me given current circumstances.
Of course, we all know the Serbian’s talents by now. He’s the reigning French Open champion, has won this event twice in the past and with the injured Rafael Nadal absent will probably fancy his chances of making it three titles in the principality.
I say probably for a reason.
Only Djokovic will really know what sort of form he’s in right now given he’s played just three matches so far this season. All were in Dubai in February, the most recent being a shock defeat to Jiri Vesely, who was the world number 124 at the time.
That event suggests ring rust is something which should very much be considered when backing Djokovic at the moment.
Given he’s likely to play a full claycourt season that will change in the next few weeks, but for now I can’t be backing him at 3/1.
Neither am I that keen on Alcaraz at 4/1.
Perhaps part of that is mental – after all it’s only a month ago we were backing him at 33/1 to win in Indian Wells (he lost in the semis).
Since then that breakthrough at Masters level in Miami has been seen by a much wider audience and the bookies have, unsurprisingly, run for cover.
Alcaraz’s natural domain is the clay so I don’t envisage him struggling to adapt to the new surface, one on which he’s already won this season, albeit in a weaker field in Rio.
Still, with Djokovic in his section – plus numerous other world-class players in the draw – 4/1 just looks a little short.
Instead I’m heading to the second quarter for my headline tip, namely CASPER RUUD.
The Norwegian is a quality clay performer, as evidenced by the fact he’s reached the semi-finals of the last three claycourt Masters tournaments he’s contested, including here in Monte Carlo 12 months ago.
A look at some of the data adds weight to his case.
In 2021 on clay, Ruud was third on tour for service games won (86%), while no-one won more second serve points (percentage-wise).
Ruud’s return game isn’t as strong but it’s notable that only Rafael Nadal won more second-serve return points.
He’s already won on clay in 2022, claiming the title in Buenos Aires for the loss of just one set, while he’s also shown his continued improvement on hardcourts with a recent run to the Miami Open final.
Again, turning to the data we find Ruud sitting seventh in both the service games won and first-serve points won categories.
Basically, this is a man in form with a strong track record on the surface.
With Cam Norrie the other top-eight seed in his quarter, Ruud has received a decent draw, albeit the eventual winner of the top quarter could prove problematic in any semi-final.
There are some alarm bells ringing about that, particularly given the number of semi-final losers this column has already thrown up this season, but I’m still going to take a chance on Ruud at 14/1.
An alternative is to back Ruud in the quarter betting with Sky Bet offering 5/4 about him winning quarter two.
The bottom half has a similar feel to it with one quarter looking stronger than the other.
The fourth quarter is led by second seed Alex Zverev but also contains last year’s runner-up Andrey Rublev and Jannik Sinner.
Both Rublev and Sinner have enjoyed decent seasons to date and prices of 20/1 and 25/1 respectively certainly caught the eye.
However, part of the reason for such quotes is the fact they will have to face each other in the last 16 and I’m finding it hard to predict the winner of such a clash. Zverev (9/1) will be hoping to still be around to face the winner.
There looks more room for opportunity in the third quarter, one which features defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The Greek will be looking to rediscover the claycourt form which so nearly led him to French Open glory in 2021 – he blew a two-set lead in the final of Roland Garros against Djokovic.
He played some great stuff throughout the clay campaign last year and if he is able to click back into that gear then he will be a real threat again.
However, so far in 2022 Tsitsipas has rather disappointed.
It would be wrong to say he’s been poor – with the exception of a shock loss to Roman Safiullin in Marseille he’s only lost to strong opponents – but Tsitsipas has consistently lost ‘big’ matches this season.
Think the Australian Open semi to Daniil Medvedev, the Rotterdam final to Felix Auger-Aliassime and recent hardcourt clashes Jenson Brooksby and Carlos Alcaraz which was a good chance to really give those rising stars something to think about.
I’m therefore happy to look at some bigger prices in this section and DIEGO SCHWARTZMAN and FABIO FOGNINI are the two who stand out.
Both are strong clay brokers with the potential to go deep here.
Schwartzman should be relishing a return to the clay.
He’s not been far away at the French Open in recent years – two quarter-finals and a semi-final in his last four visits – and famously beat Rafael Nadal in Rome in 2020.
That match is notable for the fact it was played in cold conditions which slowed the court considerably, something which favored the Argentina.
The forecast this week suggests Monte Carlo won’t be as hot as it often is in April so Schwartzman will hope that can help him improved an admittedly poor record at the event.
He has made the quarter-finals before though and a decent draw offers him a chance of at least matching that 2017 effort.
With Schwartzman having already reached two claycourt finals this season (Buenos Aires and Rio), 55/1 about his chances is hard to overlook.
As for Fognini, he’s a former champion of this tournament, winning it in 2019, and has long been a player capable of beating the best on a claycourt.
Last year, the impressive shot-maker was back in the quarter-finals, adding to a semi-final showing in 2013.
He was a semi-finalist at that aforementioned Rio event in February and so is another who will be happy to have the red dirt back under his feet.
The problem with backing Fognini is that he’s 0-3 against potential second-round foe Tsitsipas, albeit only one of those matches was on the surface.
Still, that will be Tsitsipas’ first claycourt match since July and if he is to be caught cold, then a player of Fognini’s quality is exactly the sort capable of taking advantage.
Backing him at 80/1 looks worth some small change.
Posted at 1120 BST on 10/04/22
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