On Wednesday, April 10th, world No. 7 Holger Rune will take on Sumit Nagal at the Monte Carlo Masters. Facing Nagal on clay isn’t quite like facing Nadal on clay, but the 26-year-old has won four of his last five matches on the surface. Meanwhile, Rune didn’t win a single match in Miami, and is playing his first clay-court match of the season. That should open the door for Nagal to cover a 4.5-game spread.

Rune is undoubtedly a better player than Nagal when he’s at the top of his game, but he looked miserable in his 6-1, 6-1 loss to Fabian Marozsan in South Beach. The Dane has been way too up and down for the better part of 12 months, making it hard to trust. Rune is an effective clay-court player, but he hasn’t played a match on dirt since last July. He also lost his final three clay-court matches of the 2023 season.

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Nagal isn’t going to let Rune ease into this match. The talented top-ranked Indian player is aggressive from the baseline, so he’ll pound the ball and try to push Rune around. He’s also a decent player at the net, so don’t be surprised if he comes in quite a bit and tries to make Rune pass him. I have my doubts over whether or not he’ll be able to do so consistently. Rune has had time on the practice courts, and he’s also playing doubles this week. But nothing can simulate executing in a big singles match.

Overall, Rune should find a way to win this match. After all, he did earn a 7-5, 6-3 win over Nagal in last year’s Davis Cup. But that was a highly competitive match, and Nagal has made strides since then. And given the context here, I think we can expect another close encounter.

Pick: Nagal +4.5 Games (-135)