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Nikoloz Basilashvili to beat Dan Evans at +120 at Caesars Sportsbook
Albert Ramos-Vinolas to beat Tommy Paul at -115 at Caesars Sportsbook
Federico Delbonis (+4.5) to beat Pablo Carreno Busta on the game handicap at -118 at FanDuel
Novak Djokovic to win the Rome Masters at +350 at PointsBet
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Evans was part of an impressive British effort in Madrid last week but beating an undercooked Roberto Bautista Agut in conditions which suited the underdog probably wasn’t as impressive as some made out.
Despite his two wins in the Spanish capital, Evans is still only 3-5 since hitting the clay.
Here he’ll face much slower conditions than in Madrid and that will make things hard for him against a decent clay player.
Basilashvili can blow rather hot and cold but he’s shown enough to me over the past few weeks to suggest he shouldn’t be +120 to win this contest.
In Munich he beat Ilya Ivashka before losing to the in-form Miomir Kecmanovic, while last week in Madrid the Georgian saw off Fabio Fognini before giving eventual champion Carlos Alcaraz a decent match.
I’m far from convinced Evans should be the favorite for this one, so backing ‘Basil’ at +120 makes good sense.
Admittedly, last week’s column produced some disappointing results with Ramos-Vinolas losing from what looked a winning position against Marin Cilic.
However, I’m prepared to keep the faith with the Spanish clay specialist this week when he meets American Paul, who has now lost three in a row on the dirt.
He did hold match points against Jannik Sinner in Madrid last week but the Italian’s subsequent hammering at the hands of Felix Auger-Aliassime added some unwanted perspective to that effort.
Ramos-Vinolas beat Cam Norrie in Monte Carlo before making the last four in Estoril so he’s got decent form in conditions similar to those which he’ll find at the Foro Italico.
Paul has lost five of his last 11 matches against left-handers and another can follow here.
Delbonis leads this pair’s head to head 5-3 and while form clearly favours Carreno Busta, I find it hard to think there’s not some kind of value to be had in backing the Argentine.
Admittedly, Delbonis has been beaten by Dan Evans and Marton Fucsovics in the last few weeks but it’s not that long ago he was a semi-finalist in Buenos Aires and a meeting with a player he consistently troubled in the past should help raise confidence.
That’s before we mention the fact that the Davis Cup winner reached the quarter-finals here last season, beating three top-25 players along the way.
Meanwhile, Carreno Busta has only won back-to-back matches on one of his six main-draw appearances.
With PCB having lost a lot of tight matches of late, north of +300 about the underdog looks tempting but given that lack of form from the underdog, a handicapping approach is probably the wiser option.
Delbonis therefore gets the nod, receiving a 4.5-game start.
The top eight seeds all get first-round byes in Rome, so who could be under early pressure?
The obvious candidate is Casper Ruud, whose disappointing clay season continued in Madrid where he was beaten by Dusan Lajovic.
The Norwegian has been well below his best and whoever he plays in round two – it will be Sebastian Korda or Botic van de Zandschulp – won’t be easy.
Andrey Rublev, edged out by Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals last week, may also be tested by Filip Krajinovic, who is always capable when his serve fires.
There was lots of talk about a changing of the guard in Madrid last week, especially after Novak Djokovic lost to Carlos Alcaraz.
However, it was a tight defeat – 7-6 in the third set – and it’s been well documented how Djokovic hasn’t been at his best having played little so far this season.
Upon reflection, the Serb was probably quite pleased with how he was able to compete with a red-hot opponent and with another good week under his belt, Djokovic looks worth siding with in Rome at +350.
He’s a five-time champion at this event and has made the final in seven of his last eight visits.
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|ATP Rome Information|
|What||ATP Internazionali BNL d’Italia|
|Time||Sunday, May 8 to Sunday, May 15|
|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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