@JRTWEETSTENNIS PREVIEWS THE MADRID TENNIS OPEN
The meat of the clay season has arrived, as the next month of action will see several big clay court events, culminating in the season’s second major in Roland Garros. First up, though, is the Madrid Masters – a combined ATP and WTA event from the Spanish capital.
Before we get to some players that could be incredibly beneficial for your FanTeam tennis lineups this week, let’s first take a look at conditions. Madrid, unlike Rome or Roland Garros, plays a tad differently. The bigger servers and hitters tend to fare a bit better here than in Rome or Paris. The reason? The tournament is played at around 650 meters above sea level, meaning the thinner air accentuates the power of serves and groundstrokes. On the women’s side, we’ve seen the vast majority of finals dominated by servers and hitters over the past several years (we’ll get to the one exception in the favourites section). The biggest names have dominated on the men’s side for the last five years as well, but the likes of Dominic Thiem and Alex Zverev have been able to crack the “Big 3” code a little easier here where they aren’t forced to break the bigger names down in prolonged rallies. The other thing worth noting, is that the women actually began the tournament late last week and are already into the 3rd Round (final 16).
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As I alluded to earlier, there’s one glaring outlier to the power player rule on the women’s side in Madrid. Romanian ace Simona Halep has had an incredible amount of success in Madrid when she’s been healthy and playing at the top of her game. Since 2014, Halep has made the final four times and been crowned the champion twice. Thanks to the women starting their tournament earlier, we’ve been able to see her in action a few times and she has not disappointed. Entering the tournament, Halep was one of the three favourites in the betting markets to take the crown, and has already taken another tournament favourite in Paula Badosa out in the early stages. In addition to past success and impervious form, Halep has posted some dominant set scores, which are crucial to success in FanTeam tennis contests. She hasn’t needed more than nine games to close any of her four sets and has won half of those four in eight games or fewer.
On the men’s side, one name to watch for a few matches is Casper Ruud. While he hasn’t been the dominant force many have expected to this point on the red dirt, it is worth noting that his draw is favourable for at least a few rounds – meaning you should be able to work him into your lineups a few times before his potential quarterfinal with Novak Djokovic. Even then, Djokovic himself hasn’t looked like he’s back up to speed just yet, struggling in most matches he’s played in 2022. This is a great chance for the young Norwegian to prove he can find a result on one of the tour’s bigger stages.
In terms of pick ’em matches and underdogs, I’d lean towards a pair of Americans here. In the women’s draw, I’m intrigued by what Jessica Pegula can do as this tournament progresses. She’s been priced up in the betting markets as a toss up against Canadian Bianca Andreescu in her 3rd round tilt, but she certainly has the game to make a head-turning type run late into the week. Her ability to play the long rallies with consistency should bode well against players like Andreescu and either Daria Kasatkina or Sara Sorribest Tormo (her next potential opponents). Looking further down the line, she can also play the power game well enough to stick with the tall, power-oriented Elean Rybakina as well. She should be priced a pick ‘em against Andreescu, a slight favourite in the next round and then an underdog against Rybakina. Pegula could provide some value in your FanTeam tennis lineups this week.
In terms of the men’s draw, I’m keen on Sebastian Korda. A slight favourite in his first match against compatriot Reilly Opelka, Korda profiles well in Madrid, with his powerful, yet still athletic game style. Another reason to like Korda in your lineups would be his placement into Alexander Zverev’s quarter. While it may sound odd to think that being in the defending champion’s quarter is a good thing, Zverev’s performance on court this season has been lacking. It’s a great chance for Korda to make a deep run and put the blown semifinal lead in Portugal behind him.
Jon is a tennis handicapper and bettor, running a tennis betting podcast since the beginning of the 2021 tennis season. You can find his work at Tennis Betting Tidbits in any podcast app, or on Twitter at @TidbitsTennis.
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