It's quarter-final day at the Paris Masters today, and after a heavy underdog winner yesterday, our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, discusses today's action...
Shapovalov provides us with underdog winner on day four
We picked up an excellent win on day four yesterday with Denis Shapovalov outclassing Alexander Zverev in three sets, but by a fairly dominant six game margin in what was surprisingly a more return-orientated match than anticipated - both players earned double-digit break point chances.
This has derived benefit for both yesterday's column and our long-shot outright on the Canadian, and he's now into19.50 on the Exchange - the fifth favourite - from a pre-tournament 70.00. Today he returns to action against Gael Monfils with the Frenchman still in the hunt for a Tour Finals place in just over a week.
If my maths is correct, Zverev has 2,945 points and has qualified. Matteo Berrettini, who lost in the round of 32 to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, has 2,705 and stands in eighth place. Monfils, who went into this week with 2,350 points, will need to make the semi-finals here (360 points added to his total) to qualify for the Tour Finals - so a win over Shapovalov will see him qualify via the finest of margins.
Monfils accurately priced for must-win clash
The market, so often keen to be on the side of the player who 'needs to win', hasn't really done so for Monfils today in that meeting with Shapovalov. The enigmatic Frenchmanis 2.12 to get that semi-final berth which will be enough to see him qualify, and that's not hugely out of line with their comparative indoor hard court numbers this season.
In these, Shapovalov has a solid 4% edge on service points won but it's Monfils with a 2% advantage on return points won (105.8% combined to 103.4%) and these numbers suggest that it's absolutely justifiable that Shapovalov is the slight favourite in the market at 1.86. I make him a few ticks shorter but it's nothing particularly noteworthy.
Actually, this is the general theme today. I've written fairly often about the markets being more efficient in the latter stages of big tournaments where player ability levels are more exposed, and this event is no exception - I make all the prices today broadly accurate.
Dimitrov a strong favourite to defeat Garin
In the opening match, at 13:00 UK time today, Christian Garin faces Grigor Dimitrov in what is a surprise meeting. Garin is certainly not noted for his prowess indoors - at this relatively early stage of his career, at least - while Dimitrov has had his struggles this season. However, Dimitrov's indoor numbers are still decent, in line with his career in general (he likes conditions quick with his best data coming indoors and on grass) and he should be a heavy favourite here to get to the semi-finals, and he is, at 1.29.
Djokovic not far from value to defeat Tsitsipas
In today's other matches, the elite duo of Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are both priced around the 1.25 to 1.30 mark to get victories over serve-orientated opposition. My perception is that Djokovic isn't a million miles from valueat1.34 to get past Stefanos Tsitsipas (closer to 1.40 would have been more attractive). A straight sets win for the Serbian is a near even money chance.
The world number one is marginally better on serve but considerably better on return, breaking opponents 10% more than his Greek rival on hard and indoor hard across the last 12 months. In addition, Djokovic is another in the 'need to win' category, given his deficit against Rafa Nadal for the season-long race to world number one for the start of next season.
Nadal with big ability edge over Tsonga
As for Nadal, he's1.25 to defeat the home favourite, wild card Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who is starting to improve as the season draws to a conclusion (Tsonga is running at almost 104% combined service/return points won in the last three months, for example).
The price looks about right - Nadal has only lost twice on hard and indoor hard all season (against Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios) and there's a pretty large ability discrepancy here. I'd be pretty surprised if Tsonga caused a shock here, despite Nadal's general distaste for quicker conditions.