Monte-Carlo Best Bets – April 21st
What a Saturday in Monaco where we saw a major upset, and another pretty big upset, occur in the semifinal rounds. Rafael Nadal, the 11-time champion of this tournament and winner of 18 matches in a row in Monaco, went off as a -1,250 favorite against Fabio Fognini and ended up getting thoroughly dominated. Fognini, who went off at +750, broke Rafael Nadal six times in the match and held a 5-0 lead in the second set to advance to the biggest final of his career. Somewhat surprisingly, Fognini has only won one final at an ATP 500 event and has never been to the final of a Masters 1000 event. His opponent on Sunday will be Dusan Lajovic who is set to play in the first final of his ATP career. The Serb was down 5-2 in the first set, but broke Daniil Medvedev three straight times and then cruised into the second set to get his third upset of the week.
As you can probably tell from my tournamnet results this week has been full of surprises, but with the way Fognini and Lajovic are playing we should be expecting a very entertaining final.
Here is my pick for the final of the Monte-Carlo Masters.
Fabio Fognini (-208) vs Dusan Lajovic (+178)
Fabio Fognini had four wins all season going into this week, but now has five wins this week and will enter the biggest final of his career. Fognini has had a weird week where he has gone down a set and break, to Borna Coric and Andrey Rublev, but dominated Alex Zverev and Rafael Nadal in straight sets. When Fognini is on, and focused, he is one of the more unbeatable players on this surface, but you never really know what you’re going to get out of the Italian. Dusan Lajovic is enjoying a magical week in Monaco having not dropped a single set and upsetting David Goffin, Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev on his way to the final. Lajovic has a solid career record on clay and has won a few Challenger events, but no one could have predicted him getting to the final this week. This should be an entertaining final and I like Fabio Fognini to take home the title.
YTD Tennis Results: 70-48
Monte-Carlo Masters Results: 3-6
Monte-Carlo Best Bets – April 20th
The semifinal field is now set in Monte-Carlo and the dream Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal final has been squashed. Rafael Nadal fought back to win a tight first set, and then cruised in the second set, to beat Guido Pella and advance to the semis. However, Djokovic lost a tough three setter to Daniil Medvedev in what was a fantastic performance by the young Russian. Dusan Lajovic easily knocked out Lorenzo Sonego and Fabio Fognini did Fabio Fognini things and came back from a set and a break down to knock out Borna Coric.
It’s not the semifinal matchups anyone expected, but there is still some good action left to be played in Monaco.
Here are my two best bets for the semifinal action.
Daniil Medvedev (-250) vs Dusan Lajovic (+200)
Dusan Lajovic and Daniil Medvedev booked their first Masters 1000 semifinal appearance with impressive wins on Friday. Medvedev won just one match on clay the last two years, so this semifinal run was unexpected by the young Russian. The ATP wins leader so far in 2019, Medvedev will look to advance to the biggest final of his career with a win on Saturday. Dusan Lajovic has been impressive this week with not dropping a set and knocking out both David Goffin and Dominic Thiem on his way to the semifinals. Lajovic has four career clay court Challenger titles, but I don’t think he has the skill to get past the Russian on Saturday. Back Daniil Medvedev to get to the final.
Rafael Nadal (-1,667) vs Fabio Fognini (+900)
Rafael Nadal has won this tournamnet 11 times and is now just two wins away from #12. The Spaniard had a tough first set against Guido Pella, in the quarters, but was able to fight back and easily win the tiebreaker and the second set to advance. Nadal is currently on an 18-match win streak in Monaco and it will be Fabio Fognini who will try to end Nadal’s dominance. Fognini has as many wins this tournament as he did in all of 2019 prior to this semifinal run. The Italian is certainly entertaining on the court, but his inconsistency makes him one of the more frustrating players on tour. Nadal leads the H2H 11-2, and is 6-2 on the dirt, and Nadal wins this easily.
YTD Tennis Results: 70-46
Monte-Carlo Masters Results: 3-4
The quarterfinal is now set in Monaco and the final everyone is expecting, and wants to see, is still alive. Novak Djokovic easily brushed aside Taylor Fritz and Rafael Nadal dropped just five games to get past Grigor Dimitrov. Four upsets took place, on Thursday, as Guido Pella knocked out Marco Cecchinato, Daniil Medvedev beat Stefanos Tsitsipas, Dusan Lajovic got the best of Dominic Thiem and Fabio Fognini brushed aside Alex Zverev.
It’s a pretty underwhelming quarterfinal round, but the semifinals and final have the change to be electric.
Here are my two best bets for the quarterfinal action.
Dusan Lajovic (-152) vs Lorenzo Sonego (+120)
Dusan Lajovic could not win a match when he participated in the South American clay swing, but has picked up three wins this week including back-to-back upset wins over David Goffin and Dominic Thiem. Lajovic hasn’t win an ATP tournament in his career, but has won four Challenger titles on the dirt. The Serb will be looking to get to his first ATP semifinal since Lyon in May 2018 with a win over rising Italian Lorenzo Sonego. The Italian had to qualify to get into the main draw and has fully taken advantage of it. Sonego has beaten Andreas Seppi and Karen Khachanov and has now reached back-to-back quarterfinals after doing so in Marrakech last week. I like Lorenzo Sonego to get the win and advance to his first semifinal.
Borna Coric (-139) vs Fabio Fognini (+110)
Borna Coric had a so-so start to the season, going 9-5, but the Croat made a quarterfinal appearance in Miami and is now on to the quarterfinals in Monte-Carlo. Coric has had a tough draw, but has handled it nicely with two three set wins, over Jaume Munar and Huey Hurkacz, and one straight set win over Pierre Hughes Herbert. Coric has won one ATP title, on this surface, back in 2017 Marrakech. Fabio Fognini needed a three set comeback win, in the first round, over Andrey Rublev and then used a retirement from Gilles Simon to get to his first third round since the Aussie Open. Now, after a bug upset win over Alex Zverev, the Italian is into his first quarterfinal of the 2019 season. Fognini has seven ATP clay court tiles, and leads this H2H 1-0, but I like Borna Coric to win this one.
YTD Tennis Results: 70-44
Monte-Carlo Masters Results: 3-2
Monte-Carlo Best Bets – April 17th
Day three at the Monte Carlo Masters provided us with a few upsets and two three set thrillers. Marco Cecchinato game back from a set and a break down to knock off Stan Wawrinka as a +150 underdog. Other notable upsets were Lorenzo Sonego defeated Karen Khachanov, Guido Pella getting the best of Marin Cilic and Pierre Hughes Hubert knocking out Fernando Verdasco. Other notable results were Taylor Fritz knocking out Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, with the Frenchman retiring down a set and break, and Felix Auger-Aliassime defeating Juan Londero in straight sets.
There are some exciting matches on Wednesday headlined by Alex Zverev vs Felix Auger-Aliassime and Gilles Simon vs Fabio Fognini.
Here are my two best bets for Wednesday’s action.
Gilles Simon (-125) vs Fabio Fognini (-111)
Coming off a semifinal run in Marrakech, Gilles Simon opened up his Monte-Carlo campaign with a straightforward 7-5 6-1 win over Alexei Popyrin. Simon was a premier clay court player earlier in his career, but he has not had much success since the 2012 season on this surface. Fabio Fognini needed a three set comeback win, over Andrey Rublev, to register just his 5th win, in 13th matches, in the opening round of Monte-Carlo. Fognini just doesn’t seem to have it right now, but the Italian won two clay court titles last season and has won seven ATP clay court titles throughout his career. Simon leads the H2H 5-0, with all matches played on clay, and I expect the Frenchman to get the job done on Wednesday.
Grigor Dimitrov (-175) vs Jan-Lennard Struff (+125)
Grigor Dimitrov opened his clay court season with a straightforward 7-5 6-4 win over Matteo Berrenttini on Sunday. The Bulgarian is definitely not a prolific clay court played, going 15-15 between 2016 and 2018, but he does have one clay court title under his belt on the main tour. Dimitrov had a breakthrough 2017 season, but was not able to back that up in 2018, so the Bulgarian will look to get back to where he was just two years ago. Jan-Lennard Struff secured an impressive three set comeback win, over Denis Shapovalov, on Monday and will look to advance to the Round of 16 with a win Wednesday. Struff is a solid clay court player, going 54-31 between 2016 and 2018, having won five Challenger clay court titles in his career. The H2H is tied 1-1, with Jan Lennard Struff leading 1-0 on the dirt, but I like Dimitrov to get to the Round of 16.
YTD Tennis Results: 69-44
Monte-Carlo Masters Results: 2-2
Monte-Carlo Best Bets – April 16th
Day 2 at the Monte Carlo Masters brought us six upsets on the day and plenty action throughout. The biggest upset of the day was Martin Klizan, who went off at +200, knocked out Federico Delbonis in straight sets. Other notable results were Fabio Fognini notching a comeback win over Andrey Rublev and Diego Schwartzman coming back and knocking out Kyle Edmund. Marton Fucsovics, Daniil Medvedev, Marco Cecchinato and Radu Albot also advanced to the second round.
Novak Djokovic, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Marin Cilic and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga all get their campaigns started on what may be a very wet Tuesday.
Rain may derail the action, but here are my three best bets if they do get play in on Tuesday.
Felix Auger-Aliassime (-250) vs Juan Londero (+175)
FAA returns to action after his breakthrough performance in Miami a few weeks back. The young Canadian knocked out Borna Coric and Nikoloz Basilashvili en route to his first Masters 1000 semifinal. FAA returned to clay where he has a career 73-32 record and has won four career clay titles on the Challenger and ITF circuits. He played his in the clay final at Rio and will look to continue riding his 2019 momentum into the clay court swing. Juan Londero won his first career ATP main draw match, and title, on the clay in Cordoba earlier this season, but has not been able to duplicate the success since his triumph. Londero leads the H2h 1-0, but I think FAA gets the win and evens the H2H.
Marin Cilic (-139) vs Guido Pella (+100)
Marin Cilic is off to a terrible start this season, going just 4-4, and will look to get back into form this week as he begins his clay season. Cilic has won two career ATP clay court titles and has gone 27-10 over the last two seasons on this surface, so it seems like a good time for the Croat to hit the dirt. Cilic’s first round opponent is the veteran Guido Pella is enjoying a fantastic year on the dirt. The Argentine has gone 12-3 this season and won his first career ATP title in Sao Paulo. Pella is 62-27 on clay since the start of 2016, but Cilic gets the victory in this one.
Stan Wawrinka (-200) vs Marco Cecchinato (+150)
2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka gets his clay season started at the same place he won back in 2014. Stan only played a few matches on the dirt last season, as he came back from injury, but the Swiss has enjoyed great career success on this surface. Wawrinka has won seven career clay court titles which includes the most recent tournament he won – Geneva 2017. He has a tough second round opponent in Marco Cecchinato who has quickly turned into one of the better clay players on tour. The Italian has a career 263-136, but it took until 2018 for his success to translate to the main tour. This is going to be a good second round battle and I like Cecchinato to advance.
YTD Tennis Results: 67-44
Monte-Carlo Masters Results: 1-2
The third Masters 1000 series event of 2019 is underway, in Monte-Carlo, and clay season is officially in full swing at this point. Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Alex Zverev and Dominic Thiem are the top four seeds, but there are plenty of contenders in the field this week. Action got underway Sunday with Borna Coric, Grigor Dmitrov, Stan Wawrinka and Guido Pella got their Monte-Carlo week underway with victories. Coric and Pella needed three sets to seal their wins while Wawrinka and Dmitrov advanced in straight sets.
The tournament really gets started on Monday, with 16 matches and tons of big names, so here are my three best bets for all of the action on Day 2.
Kyle Edmund (-175) vs Diego Schwartzman (+125)
Kyle Edmund got his clay season started in Morocco, but fell in the second round to Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and is facing a tough first round opponent this week. Edmund has six career clay court Challenger titles, but has never been able to replicate that success on the ATP tour. His first round opponent, Diego Schwartzman, has won two career ATP titles, five ITF titles and eight Challenger titles all on clay. The Argentine participated in the South American clay swing earlier this season and coupled a finals appearance in Buenos Aires with a first round defeat in Rio and a second round defeat in Cordoba. This is anyone’s match, but I like Edmund to get through to the second round.
Nikoloz Basilashvili (-120) vs Marton Fucsovics (-120)
This is one of the more interesting first round matchups as both players enjoyed breakout seasons in 2018 and both won their first ever ATP titles last season. Basilashvili won the clay title in Hamburg, to become the first player from Georgia to win an ATP title, while Marton Fucsovics won the clay title in Geneva to become the first Hungarian to win an ATP title since 1982. Basilashvili is 41-28 on clay, since the beginning of 2016, while Fucsovics is 43-31 during that same time frame. Fucsovics leads the H2H 3-1, but this is the first meeting the two on clay. This is a very even first round matchup, but I like Nikoloz Basilashvili to advance.
Marco Cecchinato (-333) vs Damir Dzumhur (+240)
Marco Cecchinato had a breakout 2018, on clay, winning his first two ATP titles and advancing to the semifinals of the French Open. The Italian followed up his breakout 2018 with a title in Buenos Aires earlier this season, but did have two disappointing first round defeats in the South American clay swing. His first round opponent, Damir Dzumhur was an impressive clay court player earlier in his career, but has gone just 19-20 over the past two seasons on this surface. Dzumhur has had a rough start to the 2019 season and that will continue on Monday as Marco Cecchinato advances to the second round.
YTD Tennis Results: 66-42
Monte-Carlo Masters Results: