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Lloyd Harris to beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina at +260 at FanDuel
Tie-break in first set of Reilly Opelka v Sebastian Korda at +155 at PointsBet
Over 1.5 tie-breaks in Reilly Opelka v Sebastian Korda at +370 at FanDuel
Pedro Martinez to beat Alex de Minaur at +163 at bet365
Albert Ramos-Vinolas to beat Marin Cilic at +100 at Caesars Sportsbook
Andrey Rublev to win the Madrid Open at +2600 at PointsBet
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I’d give Nikoloz Basilashvili a decent shot against Fabio Fognini, as well as Alexander Bublik (if fit) against Miomir Kecmanovic, but the one I’m siding with at a big price at this week’s Madrid Open is Harris.
The South African’s serve should prove a decent weapon at this altitude – Madrid is well known for producing faster-than-average claycourt conditions.
I think the venue can help Harris build on a couple of impressive wins in Barcelona recently – Roberto Carballes Baena and Albert Ramos-Vinolas were both defeated there.
Admittedly, his opponent has been in decent form himself, although you wonder how much mental damage was done by Fokina losing his Estoril quarter-final to Frances Tiafoe on Friday from 5-2 up in the deciding set.
He’s not had too much time to get used to the different conditions and it’s notable that Harris won their only previous meeting, in Indian Wells last season where the conditions also favour the big server (Harris lost serve once on that day).
A price of +260 looks rather large.
Martinez is another underdog who looks worthy of support in round one.
He’s established himself in the top 50, largely thanks to his claycourt efforts. Stereotypes would suggest the Spaniard might be fazed by a move up to 650m above sea level but the fact is Martinez’s maiden ATP title came at a similar altitude in Santiago earlier this year.
I’m not sure De Minaur would have started this match as the favourite a couple of weeks ago but he did play well in Barcelona recently, reaching the semi-finals and pushing Carlos Alcaraz hard.
That said, his week there wasn’t all plain sailing and the Australian also benefited from a withdrawal.
Having finally found some form on the slow red clay, a move up to the faster conditions of Madrid might not be what he needs right now. De Minaur is just 2-2 here with one of his wins coming via way of retirement.
Martinez has often delivered on home soil – he won clay Challengers in Marbella and Seville last season – and he looks a decent wager at +163 here.
John Isner showed on Sunday what a massive serve can do in Madrid, slamming down 30 aces, and something similar should be expected from Opelka.
With Korda also a decent server, tie-breaks look on the cards.
Opelka has already had a 7-6 set in 16 of his 23 matches in 2022 with Korda seeing one in nine of his 21.
Twelve of Opelka’s 23 ‘first sets’ have also gone the distance and so +155 about another doing so in this one looks good business.
For a bigger price, another angle worth pursuing is over 1.5 tie-breaks which is on offer at +370. That’s occurred in eight of Opelka’s 23 matches this season – or 35% of them.
The odds suggest it’s a 21% chance here and while they are obviously playing on clay, the thinner Madrid air should make breaking serve tough given the big deliveries which will be coming down from both ends.
One last underdog worth siding with is Ramos-Vinolas.
His been a real altitude performer over the years with eight of his 11 ATP finals coming at a notable height above sea level.
The Spanish veteran has been in good form on the clay this year, winning in Cordoba – a lower venue than this but still well above sea level – while last week he made the semis in Estoril.
Maybe Cilic’s extra power will prove decisive but that’s far from certain.
He’s struggled since hitting the clay with his only win coming against the semi-retired Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
The Croatian does lead the head-to-head 6-3 but on clay it’s just 1-1.
As a slight outsider, I’ll back Ramos-Vinolas to move ahead on that count on Tuesday.
Rafael Nadal has never lost back-to-back claycourt matches on the ATP Tour. Is this the week it will finally happen?
Well, he’s returning here after a stress fracture of the ribs and could face a tricky opening match against the in-form Miomir Kecmanovic, who was a semi-finalist in Munich at the weekend.
Kecmanovic took a set off Novak Djokovic recently in Belgrade and may be worth siding with against the King of Clay in the circumstances.
He’ll obviously be going off at a big price (if they do meet) but perhaps the best bet will be to get with the Serb on the handicaps.
Second seed Alex Zverev is a two-time champion here but has been rather up and down this season, summed up by last week’s heavy loss to Holger Rune in Munich.
Albert Ramos-Vinolas wouldn’t be the easiest first opponent for the German, who clearly isn’t firing on all cylinders right now.
Finally, Casper Ruud is worth a mention. He’s been a let-down since moving onto the clay – much more had been expected of the Norwegian, who last week lost to Botic van de Zandschulp.
Dusan Lajovic is a wily operator on clay and could add to the 23-year-old’s problems should they meet.
Andrey Rublev looks a chunky price in Madrid, especially for each-way bettors who will be rewarded if he reaches the final.
The Russian has landed in the bottom half so can’t face Nadal, Djokovic or Alcaraz until the final.
Instead, Stefanos Tsitspias and Alex Zverev are the big dangers in his section but both look priced up correctly.
At +2600, there’s value in Rublev, who arrives boosted by his title success in Belgrade where he took a love set off Djokovic in the final.
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|ATP Madrid Information|
|What||ATP Mutua Madrid Open|
|Time||Sunday, May 1 to Sunday, May 8|
|How to Watch||Tennis Channel|
Andy is a sports journalist of more than 20 years’ experience and is a former betting editor of the UK-based website, Sporting Life. He has specialized in tennis for many years, previewing hundreds of ATP Tour events and reporting from tournaments such as the ATP Finals and Davis Cup final. Andy has also covered numerous other sports, with a particular interest in soccer and cricket.More info on Andy Schooler
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