Barcelona is the current stop of the ATP Tour with Rafael Nadal the odds-on favourite to take the title. With No Federer or Djokovic there that is no surprise of course and the fact the tournament is on clay further justifies Rafa’s status at the top of the betting. Or does it?
Nadal has won this tournament for the last 3 years just as he had Monte Carlo until last week when he was soundly beaten by Fabio Fognini. The Italian edged the first set before annihilating Nadal in the 2nd set, going 5-0 up at one stage before quashing a late Nadal fightback and taking it 6-2. In the previous round Nadal had found himself 4-1 down in the first set to Guido Pella, losing serve a staggering 4 times but still managing to take it to a tiebreak.
These things are not supposed to happen to Nadal, especially on clay, but his advancing years – in sporting terms that is – and the wear and tear that the dynamic nature of his game has put upon his body do seem to be taking their toll.
The latest knee issue stems back to Indian Wells where he withdrew after beating Karen Khachanov from a break down in the first set. The knee flared up in the second set and while Nadal was able to nab a straight sets win via two tie breaks he promptly pulled out of the tournament, giving Federer a bye in the next round.
It would have been quite the coincidence if that problem had resolved itself just in time for Monte Carlo and if it wasn’t sorted then it can’t have improved for this week. During the Khachanov match Nadal’s serve slowed down by 10MPH which may explain why he’s been finding service holds so difficult of late.
That’s enough about Nadal then, what about the opposition? Well, we have Fognini who went on to take the Monte Carlo title as well as Pella who also troubled the Spaniard last week. They are in the other half of the draw along with Alexander Zverev, Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime. Daniil Medvedev, Djokovic’s conqueror last week, also lurks in the draw’s bottom half.
To earn the right to play any of those in the final Nadal has a huge task ahead of him. Lucas Pouille has beaten him at the US Open and is a likely early opponent, followed potentially by finalists in the last two years in Stefanos Tsitsipas and Dominic Thiem. Although it was Nadal who won those finals both of these players are very much on the up whereas Nadal, even were it not for possible injuries, is not. We also have to question whether or not he would really push it in the face of any adversity and risk defending his French Open title next month.
All of these things make the price of 3/5 with some bookmakers on a Nadal title look far too short. When we have the opportunity to lay Nadal or back the field and have every other player on our side at 5/4 we simply have to take it.
How we placed our bet
Tournament: ATP Barcelona Tennis
Betting Market: Outright
Selection: The field v Nadal (Lay Nadal)
Bookie: Betfair Exchange
Published on: Apr 23, 2019 @ 05:56