Tennis betting preview: King of Clay Rafael Nadal to rule over Rome once again
Derek Bilton is here with your tennis betting preview for this week’s Italian Open, but not before he takes you down memory the Trainspotting memory lane.
Those familiar with the movie Trainspotting will be au fait with Sick Boy’s unifying theory of life:
Sick Boy: It’s certainly a phenomenon in all walks of life.
Renton: What do you mean?
Sick Boy: Well, at one time, you’ve got it, and then you lose it, and it’s gone forever. All walks of life: George Best, for example. Had it, lost it. Or David Bowie, or Lou Reed.
So after a series of stunning defeats on his favourite surface the big question is, has Rafael Nadal, the King of Clay, lost it forever?
Nadal remains without a title in 2019 and has now failed to progress beyond the three clay semi-finals he has contested this year, losing each time to a different opponent.
Given the sheer physicality of his game everyone pretty much predicted an eventual physical decline and a career that would not be defined by longevity. What stood out from that Madrid semi-final loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas, though, was the fact that Nadal, who used to be like lightening around the court, might be starting to slow down. He’s no longer the indomitable Iberian he once was. One also gets the impression his recent troubles have not all been physical.
This recent lapse is much more about a deficit of self-belief. It’s jarring to watch – his self-belief and consistency was unshakeable for so long but the old red dirt master, privately at least, must be doubting himself now.
If ever there was a time to make a statement however, and prove Sick Boy wrong, it’s this week in Rome, the ancient city of the gladiator. And you’d be a fool to write him off.
The Rome Masters is a tournament where Rafa has dominated down the years. From 14 outings, Nadal has collected eight titles in the Italian capital and compiled a lifetime record at the event of 56-6.
It’s not that he’s been playing terribly either. Yes Fabio Fognini pretty much blew him off the court in Monte-Carlo but he pushed Dominic Thiem all the way in Barcelona and Tsitsipas outlasted him as much as anything in Madrid.
He’s gets an immediate chance of revenge against Thiem, who is in his quarter this week. Much has been made of the fact that Thiem has beaten the Spaniard on clay in each of the last three seasons. However Nadal is still 8-4 up in their head-to-head and will be out to make a statement. Tsitsipas and Roger Federer are also in his half, but the tip here is for a revved up Nadal to show his contemporaries he’s not a spent force.
In the other half of the draw top seed Novak Djokovic could be fatigued after his run to the title in Madrid. He’s been pretty erratic this season so looks a short price at 3/1.
If you fancy a bigger price alternative in his half then Kei Nishikori could be worth a punt. The Japanese star has been steady rather than spectacular on clay so far this year. A semi-final run in Barcelona (where conditions are pretty slow like Rome) is his best showing to date.
His draw is decent and he’s good enough to set up a last eight clash with Alexander Zverev. That would be a fascinating duel but Nishikori beat Zverev on their only ever previous meeting on the dirt (Monte Carlo 2018) so he looks worthy of an each-way tickle at 40/1.
Bilko’s Banker: Rafael Nadal to win the Rome Masters at 5/4 (bet365)
Best of the Rest #1: Kei Nishikori to win the Rome Masters at 40/1 (bet365/888 Sport (both have betting sites offers)
Best of the Rest #2: Name the finalists – Nadal/Nishikori at 70/1 (Paddy Power)
More from Tennis365:
Timeline of Andy Murray’s injury nightmare as he pulls out of Australian Open
Andy Murray is out of next month’s Australian Open here we look at the timeline of Murray’s injury troubles since 2017.
Andy Murray ‘gutted’ as he shelves plans to play at Australian Open
Murray has been unable to solve a quarantine conundrum.
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal learn their fate in ATP Cup draw
Serbia will begin…
‘Really unjustified’ – Boris Becker leaps to Novak Djokovic’s defence over his quarantine pleas
Boris Becker believes world No.1 Novak Djokovic has come in for unfair criticism after writing a letter to Australian Open chiefs.
Umpire suffers heart attack as another Australian Open player tests positive for Covid-19
Spanish player Paula Badosa has announced she has tested positive for coronavirus during quarantine in Australia.
Laura Robson unsure about tennis future after third hip operation
The 27-year-old said her priority now is to live a pain-free life.
Andy Murray believes he can still play at the Australian Open as he plots return to action
Former world No.1 Andy Murray is still hopeful of playing in next month’s Australian Open.
Players are urged not to feed the mice in their hotel rooms as Heather Watson turns to Tik Tok
Britain’s Heather Watson has turned to Tik…
On this day in 2014: Stan Wawrinka ends Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open run
The Swiss won a five-set epic to deny Djokovic a piece of history.
Novak Djokovic hits back at allegations of being ‘selfish, difficult and ungrateful’
Djokovic says he finds it tough to be ‘a mere onlooker’.