pick

On Tuesday, world No. 79 Holger Rune takes on world No. 30 Aslan Karatsev in the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. This match might not be on the minds of many tennis fans, but bettors should always look at the whole slate for the best value. And considering the way both of these players are performing at the moment, backing Rune could be the best bet on the entire board.

While Karatsev is probably the better all-around player, he has been struggling to find his game of late. Coming into this match, Karatsev has lost seven of his last nine matches—and in four of those, he didn’t even end up winning a set. The Russian also hasn’t played in a clay-court match since last year’s French Open, and this just isn’t his best surface to begin with.

The 18-year-old Rune needed to go through qualifiers to get into this tournament, but he won both of his matches in straight sets—and now has a seven-match winning streak on clay. He has also played 10 matches on the dirt this season, which should mean that he’ll be a lot more comfortable than Karatsev in this environment.

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Karatsev’s rise to the Top 25 last year came on the heels of some fantastic serving and all-around solid play. He rarely let his level dip too much, and that’s happened far too often in 2022. Karatsev has not been as consistently on serve this season, with his first delivery often escaping him in big moments. He has also had a couple of matches in which he was double faulting far too regularly. When you combine that with the fact that he can occasionally pile up unforced errors, it just isn’t hard to see why wins have been harder to come by for Karatsev this year. (He's 8-7 overall.)

It also should be noted that the oddsmakers appear to be setting a bit of a trap for casual bettors in this one. It isn’t often that you see the higher-ranked player as an underdog, as that will naturally lead to bettors thinking that there’s great value on that individual. When you combine that with the fact that Karatsev also beat Rune in straight sets in Marseille back in February, understand that the sportsbooks are expecting bettors to back the Russian.

Yet, for whatever reason, the books are clearly okay with that. It’s always crucial to dig a little deeper to find out why, and we feel it’s because of Karatsev’s poor form and lack of match play on clay.

The Pick: Rune To Win (-150)