ATP Daily Hitter: Madrid Monday Afternoon Action

ATP Daily Hitter: Madrid Monday Afternoon Action article feature image

The Mutua Madrid Open gets fully underway Monday, with 10 matches on tap, starting at 6 a.m. ET.

After a first glance at the card, one match stuck out — the clash between Novak Djokovic (-185) and Kei Nishikori (+155). I’m somewhat surprised to see oddsmakers instilling this much confidence in Nole after his recent miseries — the latest of which was a first-round defeat in Barcelona against Marty Klizan. I think this presents another pretty decent opportunity to oppose the Serb, who continues to get line respect on name alone.

I also expected the Japanese player to get a little more love here, especially after a run to the final in Monte Carlo. All of the value lies with Nishikori at this price — if physically fit, which remains a question after his retirement last week in Barcelona. Too many question marks to qualify as a hitter, however, especially since Djokovic has won 10 straight over Nishikori.

I did single out another match worth betting today. Let’s get into Monday’s hitter.

YTD: 44-41 +11.43 units

Pablo Andujar (-120) vs. Feliciano Lopez (+100)

Where: Madrid, Spain
Surface: Clay
When: Not before 2 p.m. ET
H2H: 1-1

Kicking off sometime after 2 p.m., we’ll find an all-Spanish clash between two Tour veterans at a pick ’em price. I like Andujar to ultimately get the better of fellow countryman and serve-and-volleyer Lopez.

After a short week in Portugal, where he drew a tough first-round matchup against a red-hot rising star in Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andujar should come into this home tournament feeling fresh and extra hungry for a win.

As I wrote last week (when we backed him against Tsitsipas), I’m really impressed with the level Andujar has shown since returning to Tour from injury. Although Madrid is known as one of the quicker clay courts — thanks to the altitude and surface — the conditions will still suit Andujar far more than they will Lopez at this point in his career.

Lopez has struggled for most of this season, and, finally, at 36 years old, he has started to look his age. Unless Lopez hits an abundance of aces to get free points off his serve, Andujar should apply enough pressure on the return side to throw Lopez off his game.

Andujar should have the edge in most of the extended rallies. I just don’t think Lopez’s backhand slice will hurt a player like Andujar — an established point constructor on the clay.

They have split their two career meetings (2012 U.S. Open and 2015 Barcelona) — but Andujar won their only clash on clay in straight sets, which also came in Spain.

At less than a buck and a quarter, gimme the younger (by four years) Spaniard.

THE PICK: Pablo Andujar -120


Photo via Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports