Andrey Rublev just became the first player to win a three-set match against Rafael Nadal in Monte Carlo with an impressive 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, victory over the 11-time champion. The ATP match-wins leader will next face 22-year-old Casper Ruud for a spot in his first Masters 1000 final. The Norwegian continues to impress on clay, dispatching Fabio Fognini in more straight-forward fashion, 6-4, 6-3.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Russian opened as a sizable -435 favorite (Ruud +335), but that line has since shifted to -315, which indicates a lot of money flowing in on the Norwegian. As we’ve seen all week long, upsets are in the air. Dan Evans was +1150 against Novak Djokovic, and prior to Friday's match, Rublev was listed as a +800 underdog. The adjusted line makes much more sense, as Ruud on red clay should not be a +335 underdog against anyone except Rafa himself.
When playing an opponent with a forehand like Ruud’s, you must first attack to that very side in order to open up the backhand corner.
Rublev knows this, so look for him to rip his backhand down the line and crack his forehand sharply cross-court, like he does here.
Rublev will need to keep the ball away from the middle of the court, because once Ruud finds a forehand, it’s off to the races.
Because of his incredible spin production, Ruud’s forehand might actually be more effective than Rublev’s on red clay. It sounds crazy, but at just 22, Ruud is an overwhelmingly positive 51-26 on clay. There is no defense for his unrelenting barrage of massive forehands.
One can’t help but wonder if Rublev is due for a letdown after scoring one of the most impressive wins of his career. The Russian is extremely fit, but after spending nearly six hours on court in wins over Spain’s two best players—surviving Roberto Bautista Agut on Thursday—fatigue could also become a factor.
From a betting perspective, the value lies with the Norwegian, who is never a bad bet on clay. This week’s action has given us two of the biggest upsets we’ll see all year, so why not aim for one more? Rublev will likely prove too much in the end, but there is still tremendous value on Ruud as a +245 underdog.
The Pick: Casper Ruud