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P.J. Murray 1st May 2011 - 21:54

There can be only one

ATP Madrid betting preview

Unquestionably the story of the 2011 Tennis year has been Novak Djokovic and his amazing unbeaten record, but with the French Open just around the corner both Nadal and Djokovic now put their records on the line in Madrid.

Nadal has been dominant on clay this season, the world number one has not only won his seventh successive Monte Carlo Open but he has also claimed a sixth tournament win at his home competition, the ATP Barcelona Open.

However for the first time this year both he and Djokovic can come together on clay and really determine who is the better of the two.

It is no surprise that Nadal is clear favourite to lift the ATP Madrid title in two weeks time and at 1/2 he is a very short fav. He has a bye into the second round, but the Spaniard will not have it all his own way as he faces a tough draw. Juan Martin Del Potro, Jurgen Melzer, Andy Roddick and a possible quarter-final meeting with Roger Federer all lie in wait for Nadal.

At 3/1 Djokovic takes his place as second fav in the betting, the number two seed has already beaten Nadal twice this season in his streak. After steam-rolling his opponents in his home tournament in Belgrade Djokovic will not be short on confidence. There is also the possibility of closing the gap on Nadal in the rankings and the world number one spot is well within reach.

Things were looking up for Andy Murray until he faced Djokovic in Australia, since then the temperamental Scot has failed to flourish. He did manage to make the semi-final at the Monte Carlo Open but once again failed to follow through, losing heavily to Nadal. Murray has yet to appoint a full time coach, but at 20/1 he is well worth considering for an each way bet. It is worth noting that Murray won this event in 2008.

Mardy Fish, at 200/1 has shown huge improvements recently, he was just edged out of the top 10 recently by Nicolas Almagro, but his draw is favourable and considering he makes it to the quarters he will meet David Ferrer.  Fish is well capable of making the semi-final and from there it is not beyond the realms of possibility that he will be playing so well that he can actually make the final making him a viable each way bet.

Fourth seed Roger Federer has failed to produce any real form as of late, he crashed out of the Monte Carlo Masters and the 10/1 about the Swiss winning the tournament seems too short to back. If he were to meet Nadal in the semi-final it would be hard to envisage him going any further.

The high altitude of the space age Madrid courts will create more of a hard court environment as opposed to a normal clay court effect. The ball will travel faster and more erratically and this could favour hard-court specialist Ivan Ljubicic.

The Croat is currently ranked at number 32 and he would have to navigate Gilles Simon and Andy Murray in his first two games if he were to make an impact on the tournament. But at 150/1 there is a small bit of value to be had. He is Even money to beat Simon in the first round and this could well prove to be a good punt.

It is just too difficult to really look past either Nadal or Djokovic for the title, but Nadal is just too short, so I would have to back the Serb at 3/1 for the title and to keep his unbeaten record alive.


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