Dominic Thiem is the pick to hit Monte Carlo jackpot
Lack of match play could tell on top seed Rafael Nadal
Starts 10am Sunday
Live on Sky Sports from 10am Monday
The clay court season starts in earnest this week with the picturesque Monte Carlo Masters. Since 2005, Rafael Nadal has won the tournament ten times and he goes into the competition this year as the number one player in the world.
He clearly has a terrific chance of making it victory number 11, particularly as he showed he was over any injury concerns at the Davis Cup last week. However, he is far too short a price considering this is his first major tournament since the Australian Open and a lack of match practice could tell as the tournament goes on.
He has also been given an unkind draw, with other big clay-court players Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem in his quarter. They are likely to provide stern resistance, particularly Thiem, and Nadal could find that he has to play some long matches to advance.
Austrian ace Thiem is improving year after year on the surface and last season he demonstrated that he was right up there with the best, making the final in Madrid and performing creditably in the French Open.
He suffered an ankle fracture in Indian Wells so is returning from an injury, but he is recognised as one of the fittest players on tour so conditioning shouldn’t be a problem. If anyone is to challenge Nadal it could be him, and he can be confident he can improve his head-to-head record which currently reads 5-2 in the Spaniard’s favour.
With so many big names in the top half of the draw, it could also be worth looking for some value further down. Marin Cilic is second seed but he will have a tough second-round match against either Fernando Verdasco or Pablo Cuevas and he isn’t nearly as potent on clay as on hard courts or grass.
Milos Raonic has been steadily returning to form, but the best each-way bet could be Pablo Carreno-Busta. The Spaniard is at his best on the slow clay surface and although he might have to face Alexander Zverev and Thomas Berdych, he has the game to see them off.
His all-round game has improved, his second serve is much better than it was, and it would be no surprise to see him progress deep into the tournament.
1pt 14-1 bet365
P Carreno Busta
1pt each-way 80-1 Betfred
Follow us on Twitter @racingpostsport
Like us on Facebook RacingPostSport