The ATP Tour rolls to Madrid for the third Masters event of the season, and one name stands out for those interested in a little tennis betting fun.
Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been’. So said Mark Twain.
And the men at the top of this week’s ATP rankings have had plenty to smile about in recent seasons despite their advancing years.
Novak Djokovic remains top dog age 31. Rafael Nadal is a year old and number two in the world while behind them sits a 37-year-old Roger Federer.
At some point of course their era will end, and we may not see the like of it again. But for the time being at least this trio are still bossing the men’s game and are in the same draw for a tournament on clay this week for the first time since way back in 2016.
The Mutua Madrid Open, the third clay Masters 1000 event of the year is loaded with star names and some potential blockbuster matches in the early rounds.
Five-time winner Nadal will enjoy partisan home support as always and he owns a 49-11 lifetime record in the Spanish capital.
It’s been a tough season so far for Rafa, who has normally picked up at least a couple of high profile titles by this point. He’s lost in consecutive semi-finals on his beloved red dirt in recent weeks and his status as the King of Clay is finally under threat.
Nadal has a pretty decent draw this week though, provided he comes through what could be compelling R2 test.
Felix Auger-Aliassime would be fascinating, should the young Canadian upstart beat his fellow countrymen Denis Shapovalov.
Auger-Aliassime is red hot and at just 18 looks set for a huge future in the game. Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas are also in Nadal’s half but both could be jaded after going deep at recent events in Munich and Estoril respectively.
Zverev comes here as defending champion but he’s had a worse season than Nadal in many respects with some shocking losses and various on court meltdowns.
The top half of the draw looks stacked with Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem all vying for supremacy.
There’s not much pressure on Federer, who is playing his first clay event since 2016.
He’s been victorious in Madrid three times previously and has already won titles this season in Dubai and Miami.
Despite this the bookies don’t seem to think he has a squeak and the Swiss legend can be backed at a whopping 20/1.
I’m not sure the last time Federer started a tournament as a 20/1 outsider but even at such inflated odds he looks impossible to back given his complete lack of recent form on the dirt.
Djokovic won here in 2016 and goes off as second favourite. The Serb is matched tough though and potentially gets Grigor Dimitrov first up.
Dimitrov’s form has been patchy this term but he’s a terrific baller on his day who could upset the odds if he is mentally tuned in.
It would get no easier if he came through that with possible tests against Italian clay specialist Marco Cecchinato and then a potential cracker against Argentine powerhouse Juan Martin Del Porto, who are both in his quarter.
Thiem looks the most interesting proposition at 6/1. He has beaten Nadal on clay in each of he last three seasons so should be primed for a full blooded assault at the title in Madrid.
The Austrian will have to work for it in that top half with the likes of Pablo Carreno Busta and Fabio Fognini possible opponents early on.
But after winning Barcelona in style recently and having had a week off to prepare for this, he ticks plenty of boxes and it is Thiem who will carry our cash at La Caja Magica.
Bilko’s Banker: Dominic Thiem to win the Mutua Madrid at 6/1 (bet365/Paddy Power“>Paddy Power)
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