Stan Wawrinka’s win in last week’s ATP Rotterdam helped us to an 11.6 point profit on the week – and there’s a big temptation to lump it all on Rafael Nadal to win this week’s Rio Open at a generous looking price of even-money.
However, that’s a little too impetuous for my blood and I’m going to split our usual 10 point staking plan between Nadal to win and David Ferrer to reach the final at 6/5.
Nadal’s record on clay is the most dominant statistic in world tennis – and it’s surprising that he is the price he is here. Sure, he got thrashed in the Australian Open quarter-finals by Tomas Berdych – but he should meet no one of that calibre here until he hopefully plays and beats Ferrer in the final.
To put the even-money into some sort of context, Nadal is only 6/4 to win the French Open again this year and he will have to face the world’s best players including Novak Djokovic to do that.
Nadal, at 28-years-old, and having endured lots of injuries recently, might never quite reach the level he once was – but he should still be good enough to win this. His fitness and his confidence seemed to grow with every match in Australia, and he will no doubt have been practising hard before his return to the clay courts. Some early low-ranking opponents should allow him to build his fitness up further whilst getting his eye in – and it will be a major disappointment to him should he not be able to easily reach the final.
Assuming Nadal does play Ferrer in the final, he will also take confidence from his overall record of 22 wins from their 28 head-to-heads, which is even better when you look at the clay court head-to-heads of which he has lost just two of 20.
Only two players beat Nadal on clay last year, Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro and, whilst Ferrer could prove a worthy opponent, Almagro has had just as many injury worries as Nadal recently.
However, some punters may think Almagro can repeat his win from last year, and the 25/1 may appeal to those who don’t like backing players at short odds.
The 25/1 for Almagro certainly appeals more than the 20/1 for Tommy Robredo or the same price for woefully out of form Fabio Fognini.
Robredo hasn’t claimed a title since 2013 and Fognini has only won one match this season so far – let alone looked capable of winning this.
This week’s bets:
5 points Nadal @ evens (Coral)
Ferrer to reach the final 6/5 (Skybet)