As suspected, Rafa Nadal was able to reverse his loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas here in slower conditions to those which he lost on in Madrid last week, and covered the game handicap at even money for us in a straight-set victory as we continue a solid week in the Italian capital.
Yesterday, we discussed Nadal's issues in quick conditions which (along with poor break point performance) contributed to that loss in Madrid, and how slower conditions would make it a completely different match-up in Rome. The pre-match market didn't quite factor those thoughts into it's pricing, so it was a pleasing victory. Indeed, Tsitsipas' comments post-match about the conditions weren't far from a carbon copy of my pre-match assertions yesterday.
Nadal value given hold/break edge
Today, Nadal faces Djokovic in an attempt to win his first clay tournament of the season. This is virtually unheard of for Rafa by this stage of the campaign, but he's priced up at 1.59 by the market to lift the trophy this afternoon.
I actually think this is solid value. Across the last 12 months, there's almost an 11% advantage in Nadal's favour when looking at their combined hold/break percentages, and while Djokovic is 8-2 in their head to head in the last three years, both of Nadal's wins were on clay, in Madrid in 2017 and Rome in 2018.
That match last year saw Nadal priced around the 1.20 mark, and while Djokovic had his struggles at that stage last season, it's a rather large gap between that price and today's market pricing. Interestingly, the head to head matches between the two players are rather polarised.
Djokovic has dominated on hard and indoor hard, holding over 85% to Nadal's 70%, and winning around 80% of their matches, but Nadal has a strong edge on his favoured clay, holding 74% to 68% and having a 15-7 lead on the surface when disregarding their first meeting where Djokovic was ranked outside the top 50.
Fatigue also a concern for Djokovic
So, it's pretty fair to suggest that the head to head series is very surface dependent, and after two consecutive three-setters taking almost five and a half hours between them, Djokovic has played considerably more time this week - and have accumulated more fatigue - than Nadal who has practically breezed through his matches so far.
I expect the Nadal -2.5 game handicap market to settle in the high 1.80s on the Exchange, and either this, or simply the 1.59 about Nadal to be celebrating tonight look to be the value spots for today's final.