There’s round one and two action from the 2017 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters in store for us on Tuesday on day three at the Monte-Carlo Country Club.
It’s been a typically tricky start to the European clay swing and the irony of Viktor Troicki being the only man who suffered a second set bagel was not lost on me on Monday.
Pablo Cuevas broke all sorts of trends in that one and Troicki was never likely to be much of a factor without a first serve. He made only 48% of them, which put far too much pressure on his second delivery.
We did get the perfect result in the other match I looked at on Monday when Andrey Kuznetsov covered the +4.5 games handicap against Tomas Berdych, but after a typically slow start it was the Czech that came through in three sets in the end.
We’ve got 15 matches on a busy day in Monaco on Tuesday and three of them are of interest to me from a betting perspective.
Federico Delbonis vs Robin Haase
We didn’t any joy with our trends in the Cuevas match yesterday, but there are some more strong pointers towards tie breaks in this 10:00 UK time start out on Court 11.
Both men have high tie breaks per set ratios on clay at main level over the past 12 months, with Haase up at a very high 0.38 tie breaks per set, and the Dutchman has also played at least one breaker in six of his last eight main level matches versus left-handers on clay.
Haase’s service hold/break numbers on clay over the last year at main level show that he’s held serve 84% of the time and broken only 15.3% of the time, hence the high tie break ratio.
Delbonis too is no stranger to tie breaks, with 0.22 per set on clay, in the aforementioned time frame, and he too holds over 80% of the time, so on paper this should be a tight one.
We’re unlikely to get close to the actual mathematical odds of 3.70 that is the true likelihood of there being a tie break in any given match here in Monte-Carlo, so we have to choose the right matches and this has the right credentials.
Nicolas Almagro vs David Goffin
This price of 1.23 on Goffin is very risky given the sort of game styles that both men bring to the court and I’m taking a chance on Almagro to take a set in this 16:00 (approx.) UK time start on Rainer.
Almagro loves the big stage and usually performs his best when he has no pressure on him and he can really go for his shots, with little to lose as underdog.
And a powerful opponent who goes for it can certainly do major damage to Goffin, as Almagro has proven in the past, with three wins from four matches against the Belgian.
While it’s certainly the case that Goffin is a different proposition now to the player he was when he faced Almagro in three of those clashes, their meeting at the French Open last year showed how dangerous the Spaniard can be to Goffin.
The Belgian eventually came through that one in five sets and he was priced up as a 1.60 chance that day (ranked 13 in the world), so after that struggle and still at the same ranking now as he was then, Goffin is a 1.23 chance today?
Much of that can be put down to Almagro’s poor run of late, but he’s had injury problems, and on his day he can still test the best, as he showed earlier this season against Andy Murray in Doha.
It was only a year ago that he won Estoril after losing in a final set tie break to Dominic Thiem in another final in Buenos Aires, so if he fancies it the ability is still there, and if he finds a groove on serve it could be a tough day for Goffin.
The Belgian started well in Monte-Carlo, but Steve Darcis on clay has little to test the better players and this will be a totally different match.
Almagro still has decent service hold/break numbers on clay at main level over the past year, despite some poor results of late, with 80.1% holds and 25% breaks and he should fancy it today on a show court against an opponent he knows he has a shot at beating.
Gilles Muller vs Tommy Robredo
I expected Robredo to be a bit shorter than 1.50 for this opening match of the day on Court de Princes, but I’m happy to take it and side with the Spaniard -2.5 games on the handicap.
Slow clay is a nightmare for Muller, who holds that big serve only 67.4% of the time on clay at main level in his last 10 matches going back to May 2013.
Unsurprisingly, his break of serve percentage is poor too, with just 15.9% breaks of serve in those matches, and his total of 83.3 is some distance behind Robredo’s 100.0 in his last 10 matches at main level on clay.
Robredo’s level is perhaps not what it was, but he was good enough to beat Grigor Dimitrov last week on clay, and that sort of form should be more than good enough here against Muller, who hasn't yet taken a set at a clay court Masters 1000 tournament.
Another one that might prove to be decent value is Marcel Granollers, who made the quarter finals here a year ago as a lucky loser and it would be pretty typical of Granollers to go from losing to the 946 on week and go on a run in a Masters 1000 the next.
A year ago he was crushed in qualies by Daniel Gimeno-Traver, yet went on to beat Goffin and Alexander Zverev, so he’s more than capable of beating Paulo Lorenzi as a 2.75 chance.
1 point win tie break played in Delbonis/Haase at 2.60
1 point win Almagro +1.5 sets to beat Goffin at 2.14
2 points win Robredo -2.5 games to beat Muller at 1.80