Rome Masters Final Tips: Djokovic should justify short price to lift trophy

Novak Djokovic is short odds to beat Diego Schwartzman in the Rome Masters men's singles final today. Dan Weston returns to see if there is an upset in store...

Schwartzman fights back in epic final set last night

Despite not having to face any player in the top 30 so far in this event, Novak Djokovic has done what he needed to do to reach the final in Rome, which rather unusually for a Masters 1000 level tournament, is played on a Monday afternoon (we tend to have these finished on Sunday).

This is obviously a positive for the world number one following his default at the US Open, and rather in line with his matches against Filip Krajinovic and Casper Ruud in Rome, is priced at 1.20 to get the better of the Argentine, Schwartzman, who fought back superbly to take a final set tiebreak against Denis Shapovalov last night in the semi-finals.

Schwartzman came back from a break down three times in a superb final set, including breaking to stay in the match when returning at 4-5* down, but the match lasted just over three hours, which probably isn't ideal preparation for a clash with the world number one.

Serve likely to be an issue for the Argentine

Certainly, Schwartzman will need to serve better than his display in the semi-final. He faced 15 break points against an opponent in Shapovalov, who doesn't possess the best return data generally, and this assertion is also rubber-stamped by his service numbers from the four previous meetings against Djokovic.

In those head-to-head matches, Schwartzman has held serve just 62% of the time, and it's very unlikely that those sort of figures are likely to get the job done against Djokovic today. If we are to see a shock in the final, we will need to see Schwartzman holding much more than this unless Djokovic has a real off day.

Market pricing pretty accurate

Such an off-day, realistically, appears pretty unlikely. Based on 18-month clay data, my model has Djokovic at 1.24 to lift the trophy, so there's broad agreement between model and market with just a few ticks separating them. Djokovic also has better data in the tournament to get to this stage - unsurprisingly on serve - with the duo largely similar on return, although it's worth pointing out that Schwartzman needed to beat Rafa Nadal to get here, and faced three top-30 opponents.

However, in summary, while it's too short to put up as a recommended bet the price looks about right to me, and I don't see any pre-match value here. Those looking to boost the price on Djokovic will be looking to the handicap or set betting markets where he is around 1.60 to beat a -4.5 handicap or win in straight sets.

There could be quick turnaround for Schwartzman after this too - he's still in the main draw list for Hamburg - but I'd be very surprised if he didn't pull out from that to try and rest up before the French Open, which starts in a week's time.

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