Clay court specialists lead the Italian Open betting
The last major clay court event before the French Open takes place this week, and there’s a strong field heading to the Italian capital. Rome is one of the most glamorous stops on the ATP World Tour, and it’s the clay court specialists who are the favourites to win.
Keep reading for our full Italian Open tennis betting preview.
Rafa the red-hot favourite in Rome
It won’t surprise you to learn that Rafael Nadal has won a record seven titles on the clay in Rome. The Spaniard has been dominant on the red surface for over a decade now, although it’s worth considering that he hasn’t won the Italian Open title since 2013.
Having already won the Barcelona and Monte Carlo tournaments this year, the Spaniard was expected to claim a hat-trick of titles in Madrid last week. Nadal’s victory over Diego Schwartzman set a new record for the number of consecutive sets won on a single surface (50) – and of course he then fell to a straight sets defeat in the next round.
The world number two lost to Dominic Thiem – the last player to beat him on clay – ending a superb run of 21 wins on the surface. Nadal will briefly lose his world #1 ranking as a result of his defeat to the Austrian, although he will return to the top if he can win in Rome at around 4/9.
Nadal’s most likely rival for the Rome title is defending champion Alexander Zverev. The world number three was in scintillating form in Madrid, completing the week without losing his serve and facing just one break point throughout the entire tournament.
After his win the German said: “So far it’s been pretty good for me on clay this year. Hopefully I can continue this kind of streak in Rome. Obviously, the altitude fits me a little bit with my serve, with how I play, with me playing a little bit more aggressive than others. That definitely fits me. But I just feel confident and comfortable right now.”
Zverev looks the most likely to stop Nadal winning the title and looks decent value at around 7/1.
Kevin Anderson was a semi-finalist in Madrid and is an outsider to consider at the 40/1 generally available, and it may also be worth keeping an eye on 11th seed Novak Djokovic as he continues his return from injury. The Serb is a four-time champion in Rome and defeated Kei Nishikori in Madrid last week – his first win over a top 20 player in 10 months. The former world number one can be backed at around 14/1.
Kvitova withdrawal leaves Italian Open betting wide open
Picking the winner of any WTA event right now is difficult, with no dominant force in the women’s game. Previous results in Rome also don’t help this time around, as six of the last seven Madrid finals have been won by either Serena Williams or Maria Sharapova, one of who is missing this year while the other is in decidedly average form.
After withdrawing from the Madrid Open, Williams also pulled out of Rome as she prepares for the summer’s Grand Slams. The 23-time Grand Slam champion, who raised the trophy at the Foro Italico in 2002, 2013, 2014 and 2016, has not played since her Miami first-round loss to Naomi Osaka in March.
Sharapova is still ranked outside the world’s top 50 and has only won four matches in 2018. She lost in the round of 32 on the clay in Stuttgart to Caroline Garcia, before being unexpectedly beaten in the quarter-finals in Madrid by world number 20 Kiki Bertens. A tournament win here looks like a long shot.
Considering her recent performances on clay, the favourite in Rome would certainly have been Petra Kvitova until the Madrid champion withdrew through exhaustion ahead of this week’s tournament. That looks to have left the door open for Simona Halep to claim her second title of 2018.
Halep looked to be marching towards a third consecutive title in Madrid last week before losing in the quarter-finals to world number 6 Karolina Pliskova. The Romanian got off to a great start to 2018 by winning the Shenzhen Open but hasn’t won a WTA event since and hasn’t even reached a final since the Australian Open.
The world number one did reach the Rome final in 2017 and it would be a boost to her French Open chances if she could go one better this year. You can back Halep at around 5/1.
Elina Svitolina is the defending champion having beat Halep in the 2017 final and the 23-year-old could go well at around 8/1. We also like the chances of number 7 seed Caroline Garcia. The French player has reached the semi-finals of her last two clay court tournaments and has won a couple of WTA tournaments on the surface.
The 24-year-old is likely to face Simona Halep in the quarter finals but is due a final appearance at a clay event. She looks a lively each-way bet at around 16/1.
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.
Also published on Medium.