ATP tennis betting preview: Italian stallions to make hay on the clay

Fabio Fognini

In his latest tennis betting preview, Derek Bilton backs the Italians to do well at the Estoril Open and Munich Open.

Despite back-to-back semi-final defeats on clay Rafael Nadal has only been eased marginally in the French Open betting. The Pearl of Manacor was odds on with most firms to win again at Roland Garros before the European clay swing started, but shock defeats in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona have seen him eased to an industry top price 11/8 for a major he has dominated for over a decade.

This week there is clay action in Estoril and Munich, where once again Alexander Zverev looks a very fragile favourite.

Zverev is top seed at the BMW Munich Open, an event has won twice before. However this year has been stinker so far for the German. He has suffered early exits at Indian Wells, Miami, Marrakech, Monte Carlo and Barcelona in recent weeks and has been brutally honest in assessing his recent shortcomings.
Alexander Zverev hand to mouth

The 22-year-old said after defeat to lucky loser Nicolas Jarry in Barcelona, “I’m in a hole and I don’t know how to get out of it.”

Longer term he’s too good a player not to turn things around, but he is missing first serves and backhands all over the place just now and a crisis of confidence means he’s definitely one to swerve again this week.

There are five players in the Munich draw that have already won titles on clay in 2019. Of these last year’s surprise French Open semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato makes plenty of appeal at 12s.

Cecchinato has enjoyed a decent year, winning the Argentina Open in February without dropping a set and outlasting Stan Wawrinka recently in Monte-Carlo. At 26 he’s at the very peak of his powers and has skyrocketed up the ranking in the past 18 months.

The Sicilian remains the highest-ranked player ever to be suspended for match-fixing, but those dark days of a few years ago are very much behind him now and he’s a real handful on his beloved red dirt.

Last year he became the first Italian man to reach a Grand Slam semi since Corrado Barazzuti way back in 1978, and ‘Ceck’ has the tools to go deep this week. He is a solid server and has a lovely disguised drop shot. With doubts surrounding the form of Zverev and second seed Karen Khachanov, the Italian looks to have a real shout this week at a big price.
Marco Cecchinato serving

Elsewhere a decent field will assemble at the Clube de Ténis do Estoril, where Stefanos Tsitsipas is the favourite to land the Millennium Estoril Open. The young Greek has established himself within the world’s top 10 this season, but his results on clay have not been great.

Indeed he’s won precisely one match on the dirt so far, and was last seen losing to Daniil Medvedev in Monte-Carlo. On paper Tsitsipas has a game well suited to the clay. He’s fast, tenacious and gets a lot of balls back. However it’s clear his best results have come on faster surfaces and he looks a bit short here at around the 4/1 mark.

Indeed it could pay to roll the dice on another Italian. Fabio Fognini recorded the biggest win of his career in Monte-Carlo, taking down his first ever Masters 1000 event and vanquishing Nadal en route. He can be forgiven for his swift exit in Barcelona last week after such a big effort in Monaco, but he should be fresh here and if he’s motivated he will take all the beating.
Fabio Fognini fist pump

It’s always a gamble going with Fognini. Beside the word ‘erratic’ in the Oxford English Dictionary there should be a picture of his smouldering face.

But after beating the King of Clay in the Principality he won’t fear a soul this week and if he wants it this is a tournament he can definitely win. A solid outsider as an alternative would be Pablo Carreno Busta at 25/1.

The Spaniard has accepted a wildcard this year and loves it here. He was a champion in 2017 and has a very tidy 13-3 lifetime record at the event.

Bilko’s Banker: Fabio Fognini to win the Millennium Estoril Open at 4/1 (bet365)
Best of the Rest #1: Marco Cecchinato to win the BMW Munich Open at 12/1 (bet365)
Best of the Rest #2: Pablo Carreno Busta to win the Millennium Estoril Open at 25/1 (Betfair)

Derek Bilton

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