Damien Kayat tips a tasty little 7/2 double in the Mutua Madrid Open quarter-finals.
2021 ATP Tour
Masters 1000 Series
Mutua Madrid Open
Caja Magica (Outdoor Clay-court)
Selected Quarterfinals- 7th May
Alexander Bublik 24/10 vs Casper Rudd 31/100
Well, this event has produced some shock results this week. But nothing can compare to Casper Rudd’s stunning victory over Greek wunderkind Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Greek was looking immense on clay, winning in Monte-Carlo before a gruelling Barcelona final defeat to Nadal. But read a little deeper into the Rudd discography and you will discover a growing force on clay. He won his first ATP title in Argentine last year. He then reached his maiden Masters 1000 semi-final in Rome. He entered this event riding high off the momentum of back-to-back semi-finals in Monte-Carlo and Germany (that Monte-Carlo result was his 2nd Masters 1000 semi-final). So, he’s becoming quite accustomed to defying expectations in these massive events- especially on this surface. The Norwegian served brilliantly against Tsitsipas in what was a razor-thin straight sets victory (he took the one-and-only break-point in the match). His first-serve percentage of 75% will likely get the job done here. But he will do well not to underestimate his pugnacious opponent.
In reality, it is Alexander Bublik who has been the major success story this week. The Kazakhstani is really a noted hardcourt specialist. All four of his ATP Finals have come on faster surfaces. That includes a final at the decidedly understrength Singapore Open earlier this year. His most notable result of the season was undoubtedly a quarterfinal run in Miami. But his clay-court credentials are virtually non-existent. He had only won one of his four matches on clay coming into this event. So how do we process this run? He has beaten Fucsovics, Shapovalov and Karatsev en route to this point. What do they have in common? They are all aggressive baseliners who generally perform better on hard surfaces. Having said that, the way he blew away the formidable Karatsev does give pause for concern. Can Bublik repeat that performance against a man seemingly destined for clay-court greatness?
Verdict: Rudd in straight sets 88/100
The Norwegian won their one and only encounter on the indoor hardcourts of St Petersburg. I’m always inclined to look for potential value. I think that Bublik’s stunning demolition of Karatsev is going to give some punters the jitters. But I believe that Rudd is a far more imposing presence on this surface. I think he has the goods to win in straight sets at 88/100.
Cristian Garin 14/10 vs Matteo Berrettini 56/100
Here’s a quarterfinal line-up that managed to stay slightly more on-script. Clay-court specialist Cristian Garin has looked exceptional this week. The way he dealt with Fernando Verdasco- routing him in straight sets to open his account his week- was a potent message to the field. He also just dismissed 2nd seed Danil Medvedev with relative ease, surviving a 2nd set loss and surging through the 3rd. This was the 2nd time in his career that he took down a World Number 3: he also disposed of Alexander Zverev en route to the 2019 BMW Open. All six of his ATP Finals have been on clay: he’s won five of them. His most recent victory came earlier this year in a hometown victory in Chile. One note of caution: outside of that BMW Open win he hasn’t been able to consistently translate his South-American form into European success. He lost in the first round in Barcelona and the 2nd in Estoril (but he only advanced to the 2nd round due to Richard Gasquet’s withdrawal).
Two weeks ago, it would have been easy to say that Berrettini was coasting on the coattails of his 2019 US Open semi-final run (many of his ranking points had been protected by the post-COVID-19 ranking changes). Since the pandemic turned the world upside-down, Berrettini’s form has really plummeted. It was only his heroics at the ATP Cup that showed any promise. But the powerful Italian proved his naysayers wrong with a timely victory at the Serbia Open. Sure, he was the 2nd seed in a fairly anaemic field. But it nonetheless would have given him that winning feeling back. He has eased his way past two seasoned clay-courters this week: Fabio Fognini and Federico Delbonis. Berrettini will be looking to make his first-ever Madrid semi-final.
Verdict: Garin to win at 14/10
This will be the 3rd meeting between these two and the honours are currently shared. Garin won their only clay-court tie in a 2019 Munich meeting. I think that Berrettini is getting far too much respect in the markets. He won a sub-par event last week and his previous form was shocking. Garin is coming off a world-class win against Medvedev and is well worth your money.
Madrid Mutua Open QF double tipped at 7/2
Rudd in straight sets at 88/100
Garin to win at 14/10