Neither Alex de Minaur nor Lloyd Harris enjoy playing on clay, but they both scored relatively big wins in Madrid’s opening round. The Aussie dispatched Spaniard Jaime Munar from a set down, while the South African upset Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 in the third. With their wins, they move to 4-13 and 3-8 on clay, respectively.
According to the oddsmakers, de Minaur is listed as a surprisingly large -225 favorite, despite losing their only encounter at the 2019 Japan Open on the Aussie’s favorite surface, a quick hard court. Harris has done nothing but improve since then, which makes his +185 underdog status a very tempting bet.
It’s no secret that flat-hitters tend to struggle on clay, as a flat ball slows down when it hits the dirt, while a heavy topspin shot tends to explode off the court. Harris is a heavy hitter, especially off the forehand side, and should have ample time to line up his strokes and pick his spots wisely.
The Aussie is nicknamed "the Demon” due to his incredible quickness, but Harris is also one of the swiftest and most explosive movers on the ATP Tour.
Few players defend better than de Minaur, but Harris is too solid to defeat with defense-only tennis. Look for the Aussie to play aggressively and try and control the points with crafty angles like this.
Here we see what happens when de Minaur plays it a little too safe. Especially on clay, this type of indecisive “just make it in” return doesn’t cut it, and Harris makes him pay.
Clearly the oddsmakers believe the Aussie is more suited for clay than Harris, but a blowout in either direction seems unlikely. This match feels like a toss-up, made more unpredictable by each player’s abysmal record on clay. Safe money should be on Harris to lose by less than 3.5 games, but the South African at nearly a 2 to 1 return sure seems like a winnable bet.
The Pick: Lloyd Harris +3.5 games at -125