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ATP Tennis Betting: Ramos can grind Nishikori down in a physical battle in Rome

ATP Tennis Betting: Ramos can grind Nishikori down in a physical battle in Rome

Masters 1000 tennis on the clay makes its return this week at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome and Sean Calvert is here with his take on the possible value bets in round one.

We’re back in Rome at the Foro Italico in week 39 of the tour and it’s looking like a hot one, with 34C temperatures in the shade expected on Monday.

Given that it was 35C on Sunday as well, playing conditions can be expected to be on the quicker side in the day session, while being slower at night, as usual here.

It’s a tournament that doesn’t usually produce many underdog winners – just 28% on average in the last seven years making it one of the six poorest tournaments in terms of underdog winners on the tour.

That could well change this year, with most of the big names not having played on clay competitively since last year’s French Open some 15 months ago now, although some will have practiced or played exhos on the dirt during the tour’s hiatus.

Round one has usually been the best round in terms of frequency of underdog winners in Rome anyway, with 34% of them prevailing on average in the last seven years, so I’m happy to take a chance of a couple this time around, too.

Kei Nishikori vs Albert Ramos

Nishikori admitted after losing to eventual champion Miomir Kecmanovic in Kitzbuhel last week that he wasn’t quite ready after a long lay off due to elbow surgery followed, of course, by the suspension of the tour.

“I was not 100 percent, but I was happy with the way I played,” Nishikori said. “I was not fit enough and maybe if I finished in two sets it would have been different, as I had some chances.”

Against Ramos that suspect fitness may be tested again and we know that Ramos loves nothing more than a long drawn out grind on the clay, which may well prove beyond the physical means of Nishikori at the moment.

Nishikori has beaten Ramos four times from five, but two of those were on hard courts and it was Ramos that won their most recent clash on clay as a 2.62 underdog, albeit back in 2013.

That was in similar conditions to this in Barcelona and Ramos showed that he’s in fair touch when he should have beaten Laslo Djere in Kitzbuhel last week (losing from 4-0 up and 1.02 in-play in the final set) and Djere went on to beat Diego Schwartzman.

In these circumstances it’s likely that Nishikori will have to win this in two to prevail, but I’m happy to chance the 6.50 about Ramos taking this one in a decider.

Borna Coric vs Cristian Garin

I talked about Garin in my outright preview and I’d have taken him at 1.93 against Coric on clay, with the latter having not long returned from the US Open, where he played several very tough matches.

Coric looks to be being priced here on his somewhat fortuitous run to the last eight of the US Open in which he should have been beaten in round three by Stefanos Tsitsipas, who somehow blew six match points and a 5-1 lead to win it in four.

The Croat’s recent clay stats are pretty average (102.7 hold/break total in his last 10 matches), which doesn’t compare favourably to the 111 of Garin in his last 12 months (11 matches) on the red dirt at main level.

Garin should have defeated Coric in all three of their lifetime clashes, with a win in French Open Juniors on the clay followed by a daft loss from 5-2 up in the decider on grass last season and most recently a straight sets victory on the clay of Rio in February this year.

Garin has talked about struggling mentally with the post-Covid resumption and all that it entails and he hasn’t shown much form so far, but a return to the clay will suit.

“When I got here [to New York] I was happy. I liked being back in the competition but playing it felt weird. I had a hard time adjusting. I am going to evaluate what I will do now, I have not felt comfortable with all the protocols and I am not sure if I will play the US Open. I have to evaluate how I feel.”

He withdrew from Kitzbuhel, so there is doubt over how he’s feeling, but I was ready to back him here at the original odds of 1.93. The line has now changed to 1.76 and I can’t back him at that price.

Elsewhere on Monday, Benoit Paire is moaning about not being given a Tuesday start and he’s got a tough one against Jannik Sinner, but it’s even less possible to back Benoit at the moment than it usually is, so I’ll pass on that one.

Gianluca Mager played some nice stuff to make the final of Rio as a qualifier just before the tour’s suspension and on that form the Italian is in with a fair shot of upsetting Grigor Dimitrov.

Mager played the Aix En Provence Challenger last week and lost first up to Thiago Seyboth Wild, but that only his second match on clay since that Rio final, so I wouldn’t be too worried about that defeat.

Dimitrov is hardly one to trust, as his record of having lost his last four (and six of his last nine) main level clay matches when priced between 1.41 and 1.59 shows. Definite opportunity for Mager in that one, I feel, and one that I’ll take a chance on now that Garin is too short.

Dimitrov’s hit and miss baseline game has seen him win only 45% of his second serve points on clay in his last 10 main level matches on this surface and although he’s got better form in him than Mager he doesn’t produce it anywhere near often enough and Mager’s desire playing in Rome might be enough if this goes long and Dimitrov gets tired again.

Stefano Travaglia beat Taylor Fritz on a good paced outdoor hard court back in January, so at home in Italy, on clay, he’ll fancy his chances of repeating that success against the American, but he was a 3.56 shot that day and now he’s 2.10.

Travaglia lost 0-6, 3-6 to Pablo Andujar on the clay at the Prostejov Challenger a few days ago and I’m not sure there’s much value in his price here against an opponent that can play on the clay on his day (beat Pella in straight sets here last year) and in hot, quickish conditions.

Nikoloz Basilashvili will win again at some point and the price will be good, as his current form is awful and he’s due in court next month.

Still, should he be as big as 3.0 to beat Lorenzo Sonego?

Sonego won a lot of lower level matches during the tour’s suspension, but he’s only won two of his last 15 at main level and five of his last 15 on clay at main level.

Sonego has a 1-4 win/loss record in Rome and he hasn’t won since the tour’s resumption, while Basil’s clay main level stats in his last 10 matches are still better than Sonego’s in his last 10.

Basil still has a hold/break total of 104.8, while Sonego is down at 96.2 (breaking serve only 13% of the time), so Sonego at 1.41 against even this Basil looks a scary bet to take on.

Best Bets

0.5 points win Ramos to beat Nishikori 2-1 at 6.50
0.5 points win Mager to beat Dimitrov at 2.70



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Sean Calvert
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