ATP Masters Rome – Quarter Final – Stan Wawrinka vs Rafael Nadal

It’s the quarter-final of the Rome Masters this evening, and defeat will curtail players’ match preparations for the French Open, which starts in just over a week.

Today’s preview focuses on a match between two players who have both had their problems in recent time.  Stan Wawrinka has announced the separation from his wife, amidst some mud-slinging, whilst there has been much speculation that Rafael Nadal is nowhere near his previous levels.

As is often the case in Tennis betting, and indeed life itself, the truth is somewhere in between, and this can be proven by statistics.  There can be no doubt that some of Nadal’s defeats have been affected by negative variance due to the loss of key points:-

1) In both of his defeats against Fabio Fognini, the Italian won the matches without creating more break point chances than Nadal, and in the recent match in Barcelona, Nadal lost despite creating six more break point opportunities (14-8).

2) Against Milos Raonic at Indian Wells, Nadal lost the match despite having match points and trading at 1.01 in-play.

3) Against Fernando Verdasco in Miami, Nadal’s countryman saved 9/12 break points, and converted 3 of 6.  Nadal again lost the match despite getting six more break points than his opponent.

The only matches where he has been outclassed by his opponent was against Tomas Berdych in the Australian Open (where he was far from fully fit), Novak Djokovic (excusable) in Monte Carlo and an on-fire Andy Murray last week in the Madrid final.

In addition to this, Nadal’s 12 month clay stats are still better than Djokovic’s, holding 84.3% and breaking 41.8% (combined 126.1%), facing 0.43 break points per service game and creating 0.88 opportunities per return game.

In 2015, Nadal’s stats have dropped slightly, holding 85.1% and breaking 36.5% (combined 121.6%), which is still elite level.  Interestingly, he’s faced fewer (0.36) break points per service game, whilst creating 0.88 chances this year as well.

On this basis, reports of Nadal’s demise is clearly incorrect, and again illustrates that he is only losing matches due to an inability to take break points (he’s 5.1% down on his expectation based on return points won this year).

Wawrinka hasn’t impressed hugely this year, winning four of six matches on clay, holding 79.7% and breaking 24.2%, and it’s clear that these stats aren’t even close to Nadal’s level, although he’s well down on break point conversion as well.

In previous head to head clashes, Wawrinka lost 12 matches in a row in straight sets, until the Australian Open final last year, where Nadal had various injuries.  Nadal has won all five clay court meetings in straight sets and by at least four games, which seems a viable proposition today, particularly given Nadal’s propensity to win by this margin when a heavy favourite, and Wawrinka’s horrific record when a heavy underdog.

Recommendation: Split Stake – Back Rafael Nadal -4 games at 1.86, and to win 2-0 at 1.74

Prices correct at time of writing.

By @Tennisratings.

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