2020 ATP Rome Masters: Semifinal Picks

September 19, 2020

The quarterfinals of the ATP Rome Masters were full of surprises from start to finish. From the lone Italian remaining in the draw being eliminated, to the king of clay being defeated in straight sets, the only thing that could be expected in the quarters was the unexpected. In the semifinals, there could very well be more surprises in store. In today’s round of ATP Rome betting picks, we predict at least one more match could defy expectations with a pick at a plus price.

Diego Schwartzman vs. Denis Shapovalov

Diego Schwartzman pulled off one of the biggest upsets on the ATP Tour in a long time in the Rome quarterfinals. As a 14/1 underdog against Rafael Nadal, the Argentinean won in straight sets. He broke the king of clay five times in two sets. More impressive was Schwartzman holding his nerve late despite some immense pressure from his legendary opponent.

The win from Schwartzman was all the more surprising based on his form during the tournament to that point. He needed a second set tiebreak to put away John Millman in his first match. And Schwarzman dropped a set to Hubert Hurkacz in his match prior to the Nadal clash. But there is no such thing as an easy match for an opponent of Diego Schwartzman, something Shapovalov will learn in their first matchup here in Rome.

Schwartzman’s biggest advantage in this match will be his ability to return serve. On clay, Schwartzman has broken his opponents in 36.5% of their service games in the last year. That number puts him in the company of only Rafael Nadal as players who have broken their opponents a third of the time or better on clay over the last year.

Denis Shapovalov enjoyed a route to the semifinals that did not include a shocking win over the king of clay. But he still had to work hard to reach this point in the tournament. He started by winning in straight sets against Guido Pella and Pedro Martinez. But his last two matches have gone the distance, with wins over Ugo Humbert and Grigor Dimitrov taking three sets.

The Canadian went up by a set against Dimitrov, before his level dropped off to allow Dimitrov to claim the second set. Against an opponent like Schwartzman, a player cannot afford to check out mentally the way Shapovalov is wont to do, as every point is a grind against the diminutive player who will be across the court from Shapovalov in this match.

Shapovalov has broken his opponents 16 times in four matches on the red clay in Rome. He has only been broken four times in four matches, for an average break to hold ratio of 4:1 in his first competitive clay court tournament since last year’s French Open. Break chances should be plentiful for the Canadian in this match, as Schwartzman has faced 18 break points and been broken eight times in three matches.

This is the first matchup between these two players all-time, and it is a significant one at that. Schwartzman has never reached a final at a Masters 1000 event in his career. Shapovalov reached the final of the 2019 Paris Masters, and was defeated by Novak Djokovic in that final. The winner of this match could face Djokovic again, or could take on a player who is red-hot on clay in Casper Ruud. Either way, it will be rare for the winner to receive so many ranking points from a tournament.

This match features two very different players, as Shapovalov is better at hitting through the court while Schwartzman likes to coax errors out of his opponents. Both players should get their share of break chances as Schwartzman has had a tendency to create them for both himself and his opponents all tournament long. Expect this match to go the distance, just like Shapovalov’s last two, as these players will make things difficult on each other throughout the evening.

Pick: Over 2.5 sets played (+133)

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Jay Sanin
Jay Sanin is a sports writer and broadcaster from Albany, NY. He has covered sports betting and the gambling industry since 2013.