Rome Masters Day Three Tips: Dimitrov value to get past Nishioka

The big guns play in Rome today with Djokovic and Nadal among the eight matches on the schedule. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, previews the action...

Djokovic and Nadal dominant in the outright market

Day three in Rome sees the introduction of the seeded players into the draw after the received a first-round bye. However, one big name exited in yesterday's first round matches, with Stan Wawrinka shocked by teenager Lorenzo Musetti.

The outright market is very strong towards a Djokovic or Nadal winner of this tournament, and both are in action today. Nadal is at 1.93 and Djokovic 3.20 to lift the trophy, which is around an 80% implied chance that either one of the elite duo will succeed here. In truth, given the historical huge ability differential that they have over the field on clay, this is difficult to dispute. Both are sub-1.10 favourites today, against Pablo Carreno-Busta and Salvatore Caruso, respectively.

Unsurprisingly, they are the two strongest favourites on today's card. The likes of Matteo Berrettini and Stefanos Tsitsipas are slightly weaker favourites - but still strong at around the 1.30 mark - against Guillermo Coria and Jannik Sinner, and even though they are yet to play their first clay match, they look reasonably priced.

Dimitrov looks like the value spot on day three

Most of the favourites look quite accurate in the market with the exception of Grigor Dimitrov, who I think represents some value at 1.64 for the win and [1.91] on the handicap -2.5 games for his match with Yoshihito Nishioka. I'm surprised to see this price, in all honesty, after a relatively straightforward win over wild card Gianluca Mager in the opening round.

This win was pretty dominant - Dimitrov won 59% of points in the match - but I think the market may be overvaluing Nishioka after his win over Miomir Kecmanovic in round one. Nishioka, longer-term, has mediocre clay data and I'm not hugely convinced of the merit of the win over a potentially fatigued Kecmanovic given the Serb won the title in Kitzbuhel on Sunday, so had to travel to Italy after five matches and 13 sets in very different conditions in Austria last week.

Dimitrov has a pretty decent edge in both medium and long-term clay data. For example, across the last three years on the main tour he has won just over 6% more service points with only a marginal deficiency on return. Because I don't really see what has changed in that time period, I think the market price is wrong here. I wanted to use round one as a watching brief and find value in a match featuring two players who played in round one, and I think I've managed to do so here, backing the Bulgarian conceding 2.5 games to get a little extra on the price.

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