The Barcelona Open plays host to a whole slew of clay-court specialists, including the “King of Clay” and No.2 seed, Rafael Nadal, who is looking to regroup after Novak Djokovic brutally ended his eight-year reign in Monte Carlo last weekend. It remains to be seen whether that loss will affect him negatively this week, but as far as the tennis betting floors are concerned, the bull market is back on. And now that top seed, David Ferrer has been unceremoniously dumped out of the tournament by Dmitri Tursunov, straight out of the gates, the market is only going to get more bullish. To put it bluntly, the way it’s cornered now, Nadal is the best bet to win the tournament. No ifs or buts about it.
Installed as the 1/5 betting odds favorite at William Hill to win the tournament, the tennis odds makers have shrugged off Nadal’s Monty defeat – mind you, it was a sensible move you’ll concede after taking a glance at the draw and taking stock of the players (no disrespect intended) that RSVP’d to the event. Not to mention the fact that Nadal has earned such consideration where his beloved dirt is concerned.
The odds makers weren’t the only ones to shrug off Sunday’s defeat in the Monty final though. Nadal did as well, powering into the R16 with a solid 6-4, 6-2 victory over Carlos Berlocq. (Nadal has never lost back-to-back clay court matches.)
So kick starting successfully his bid for an eighth Barcelona title, Nadal next takes on Benoit Paire of France. Perched in his way as threateningly as a bowling pin at a 100/1 shot to win the title, Nadal should knock him down easily and move into the quarters where he could potentially come up against either compatriot Albert Ramos (80/1) or Kei Nishikori (66/1). Since both Ramos and Nishikori, who is making his European clay-court debut in Barcelona, are beatable, Nadal should bowl his way into the semis without too much fuss.
Levelling the playing field
The stiffest opposition to Nadal is Nicolas Almagro, tipped at betting odds of 8/1 at William Hill for the title, followed by Tomas Berdych, who is listed at 14/1.
It might seem surprising to some that Almagro, who ranks below Berdych, is listed at shorter odds to win the title. But the reason is quite simple: he’s not in the same half of the draw as Nadal is; the upshot of which is that he could only cross swords with Nadal in the final. This makes his road to the title easier than Berdych’s road, which would go through Nadal in the semis, and that correlates to better odds.
Easier road it might be but it’s not one without inherent stumbling blocks, make no mistake. Almagro is a player that flirts with inconsistency on occasion, losing matches he should win on paper. Almagro faces compatriot Marcel Granollers in the R16 and either Chardy (80/1) or Monaco (20/1) in the quarterfinals – the latter of which took a set of Djokovic in Monty. In the semis, several darkhorse threats could emerge to challenge Alamgro from clay-court specialists Thomaz Bellucci (33/1) or Martin Klizan (66/1) to veterans Philipp Kohlschreiber (33/1) and Dmitri Tursunov (50/1). Indeed, Almagro has his work cut out for him before he can contemplate a clash with Nadal – against whom he incidentally trails 0-9 lifetime.
Berdych, who is in Nadal’s half of the draw, would need to overcome potentially Nadal in the semis (he trails 3-13 to the Spaniard) and another opponent in the final, in order to win the title. That makes his path to the Barcelona title that much arduous and thereby his odds longer than Almagro’s odds.
Before he too could contemplate a game plan against Nadal however he has to overcome veteran Tommy Robredo (50/1) in the R16 and either Milos Raonic or Ernests Gulbis in the quarterfinals (both of which are listed at tennis betting odds of 25/1 to win outright). Berdych has never beaten Raonic (trails 0-1 lifetime), and although he leads the H2H series with Gulbis 3-2, he was pushed to a tough three set win in Marseille by the Latvian earlier this year. The take away for tennis bettors: nothing is a given as far as the flighty Czech is concerned.
Tennis Betting Verdict: Matchups and past accomplishments of said matchups are a measure for tennis bettors of what to expect in the present. If there is one player though that leaps off the page and turns this maxim into an almost absolute is Rafael Nadal. Not for nothing is the Spaniard dubbed the “King of Clay”. To date, none of the players mentioned above has beaten Nadal on his beloved dirt. That honour belongs to only a handful of players, all of whom have given the Barcelona Open a miss this week. Of course, this doesn’t mean that one of them couldn’t pull off the unthinkable and beat him on clay – in theory, on any given day, every player is beatable. Law of Averages says it is so. But the likelihood of that happening to Spain’s prodigal son in Barcelona is slim to none.
Tennis Picks: Nadal to win the Barcelona Open title at 1/5 at William Hill.