Madrid Open Men's Day Five Tips: Tsitsipas unlikely to dominate Dimitrov

ATP action at the Madrid Masters continues on Thursday with eight third round matches on today's card. Dan Weston returns to preview the schedule...

Dominant favourites a theme today

The same as previous days, matches get underway at 1100 UK time with there being British interest in both of today's openers at that time. Dan Evans is a heavy underdog against Andrey Rublev, but the main attention will surely be on Andy Murray's clash with Novak Djokovic. Both favourites are priced around the 1.20 mark.

Dominant market favourites represent something of a theme today with Jannik Sinner being the only pre-match favourite priced north of 1.50. In theory, at least, it should be a day of mismatches.

Sinner a big test for Auger-Aliassime

Auger-Aliassime got past Christian Garin with, to me at least, unexpected ease, but should find Sinner a bigger test. The Italian has got past Alex De Minaur and Tommy Paul already, and wasn't far off beating Alexander Zverev in Monte Carlo a few weeks ago in the quarter-final, having already beaten Andrey Rublev to get to that stage.

However, that dominant win for Auger-Aliassime yesterday has improved his 12-month clay numbers and looking at those, I don't see enough evidence to suggest that Sinner's market line of 1.62 is particularly out of line.

Norrie a big underdog against phenomenon Alcaraz

As well as Murray and Evans, there's further British interest tonight as well when Cameron Norrie faces the phenomenon, Carlos Alcaraz. On clay in the last 12 months, it's Norrie with the better serve data but Alcaraz with a huge edge on return - winning around 6% more return points - plus evidence that he's on a big upward trajectory.

For example, Alcaraz's season data on clay so far is running at an almost 110% combined service/return points won percentage, which is the mark of an elite player on tour, and given this, I don't see the current 1.20 being drastically out of line. Having said that, it's shorter than the 1.45 which Alcaraz started at in their last meeting, at Indian Wells on slow hard court in March, and although Alcaraz won that match, Norrie was competitive and missed a number of break point opportunities.

Tsitsipas looks short-priced against Dimitrov

The one clash where I think the favourite is a little over-valued is Stefanos Tsitsipas at 1.36 against Grigor Dimitrov. Again, looking at 12-month clay data, Tsitsipas has a decent serve edge but a marginal deficiency on return - there's not a huge amount in it.

When this is the case, I often take a look as to why a player without a big edge is valued so strongly by the market, and I think there are a number of factors here. One is reputation - Tsitsipas has a higher reputation and is often overvalued by the market in my opinion - and two is variance. He's won 8/10 tiebreaks on clay in the last 12 months. Dimitrov has been a victim of variance, struggling to save break point chances in this sample at a rate in line with his service points won percentage.

Dimitrov should go into this in good heart, following a straightforward win over Diego Schwartzman in round two, and I think he can keep this pretty tight in quick conditions against a serve-oriented opponent. In line with general market pricing, we should be able to get around 2.15 on the Exchange about the Bulgarian with a 3.5 game head start in the run-up to this afternoon's match.

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