ATP Italian Open Tennis Betting: Back Zverev To Regain Crown
Rafael Nadal defends his Italian Open title in Rome this week, but the Spaniard is under something of a cloud with the French Open just a fortnight away.
Since the Madrid Open switched to clay in 2009, Nadal has won seven French Open titles. Only once has he failed to win either Madrid or Rome in the build-up, back in 2011 when he had already triumphed at both Monte-Carlo and Barcelona, meaning he generally dominated the tennis betting market.
This time around, the King of Clay is 0-3 in clay-court events this season having been beaten in the semi-finals in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid. The latest failure came in front of a passionate home crowd at the hands of Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The Greek played superbly but Nadal was below his best, particularly in the decider. I watched a couple of his earlier matches where he was able to dominate with his forehand, but Tsitsipas showed a superb fleet of foot to not only stay with Nadal in rallies but also convert defence into attack in an instant.
Bookies Split on Nadal Chances
If Nadal fails to retain his Italian Open crown, there must be serious doubts about him doing the same at Roland Garros. The draw has not been the kindest with Dominic Thiem, his conqueror in the Italian capital two years ago, a likely quarter-final opponent probably followed by either Tsitsipas or Roger Federer in the semis.
The best tennis bookmakers are split on whether to take Nadal on, with both Ladbrokes and Coral offering the biggest outright price at 7/4. He did come into Madrid having just recovered from a stomach virus, so perhaps he could be forgiven for that. But the manner of his defeat to Tsitsipas tells me that his game isn’t quite where it needs to be - perhaps he is just half a yard short of pace - and he’s still too short to be backed.
It was no great shock to see Tsitsipas - a big shotmaker with serious talent - unable to follow up that emotional victory in the final against Novak Djokovic. However, he may not have been able to beat the Serb on any day. Having struggled since winning the Australian Open, the world number one was back to his impossibly durable best in Madrid, claiming his first title on clay since the 2016 French Open, something to consider for your tennis betting strategy.
His semi-final victory over Dominic Thiem was most impressive, although the Austrian might still be kicking himself for handing back a break of serve immediately after going 4-2 up in the second set. Djokovic won 7-6 7-6, but Thiem played well enough to suggest he will be in contention again this week. The 6/1 with BetVictor does make some appeal, although Nadal in the quarters could be a tough nut to crack.
2017 Final Repeat On The Cards
The top half of the draw certainly looks the easier of the two with Djokovic and Alexander Zverev the big names. Djokovic has what appears to be a trouble-free route to the semis. Meanwhile, 2017 champion Zverev faces a tough early test against home wildcard Matteo Berrettini who is up to 31 in the world rankings after winning the ATP 250 in Budapest and reaching the final in Munich.
The German showed signs of a revival in Madrid after a somewhat disappointing start to 2019. Speaking in Madrid, he revealed some personal issues but insists he has put them behind him and “can finally be 100 percent a tennis player again”. He went out in three sets to Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals but this was a step up on previous performances this year.
His record in Rome is excellent having been denied consecutive triumphs by Nadal in last year’s final. After Berrettini in round two, Gael Monfils could pose a threat before a potential quarter-final meeting with Kei Nishikori. Then it would probably be Djokovic in the semis in a repeat of the 2017 final.
I have found it hard to form a strong opinion on this tournament. You can make a case for all the top six in the betting, including Federer who made a promising return to clay after three years off in Madrid.
I was tempted by Djokovic, who looked so clinical in the Spanish capital, at 9/4 with William Hill. But he has suffered a couple of shock defeats this season, and following up in Rome is no easy task with Nadal in 2013 the last to complete the Madrid-Rome double.
At the prices, Zverev has to be my pick this week. He clearly enjoys playing in the Eternal City and has a 2-2 record against Djokovic - including victory in their only previous clay meeting in the 2017 Rome final - which would give him confidence ahead of a potential semi-final meeting. At 20/1 with BetVictor, I believe he’s somewhat overpriced and well worth an each-way bet.
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