Rome Masters, 4th Round, Tuesday, 16.05.2023
After two matches without losing a set, Holger Rune has to play Alexei Popyrin in the fourth round of the Rome Masters. The young Australian is also playing a strong tournament so far.
Can he hold his own against the world number seven? In my Popyrin Rune tip, I pick the best bet for the match.
Popyrin feels at home in Italy’s capital. The 22-year-old has already played five matches in Rome. First, he held his own in two qualifying matches against local heroes Riccardo Bonadio (6-4, 4-6, 6-3) and Andrea Pellegrino (6-0, 7-6).
In round one, his compatriot Christopher O’Connell (6-3 ,7-6) had to pack his bags. A surprise came with a win in round two against top-10 player Félix Auger-Aliassime, who is currently struggling with his form.
At 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, he dropped only his second set after the first qualifying round. Roman Safiullin (5-7, 5-7) failed to bag a set against Popyrin in round three.
The young Australian is currently playing one of his best tournaments of his career. Never before has he reached the fourth round of a Masters tournament.
However, he cannot make a big leap up the world rankings with this performance if he were to fail in the last 16.
Last year, he won the Challenger tournament in Bordeaux at the same time, where he picked up 175 points, which he was able to defend for the most part by reaching round four in Rome.
If he manages to beat Rune as an underdog, he would surpass the Challenger winning points from last year. But bettors are not convinced.
With a 4.50, the oddsmakers see the probability of victory at around 22 per cent. Rune is the clear favourite at 1.20 at Bet365.
The Dane, who turned 20 a fortnight ago, has never met Popyrin on court. In terms of play, he is one of the best players in the world.
He is currently ranked seventh in the world. His start on the clay court season began with a final appearance at the Monte Carlos Masters.
On his way to the last round, he prevailed against Jannik Sinner and Daniil Medvedev, among others, eventually failing to beat Andrey Rublev.
A week later, he celebrated a curious title defence at the ATP tournament in Munich. After suffering several injuries against Botic Van de Zandschulp in the final, he prevailed after numerous match points from his opponent.
At the Madrid Masters, he was surprisingly eliminated in round three. Twice he lost in tiebreaks against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (6-7, 7-5, 6-7).
In his first matches against Arthur Fils (6-3, 6-3) and Fabio Fognini (6-4, 6-2), Rune presented himself in stronger form again.
I think a win after two sets is also realistic against Popyrin. Bet365 offers 1.66 for this market.
The Australian plays with a lot of risk and relies on quick points. But against the fast, defensively strong Rune, he will have a hard time implementing his game.
Especially in the service games, where the first serve does not come regularly, it will be dicey for the 1.96 metre tall Australian.
I see clear advantages for Rune in the rallies due to the already versatile game repertoire of the 20-year-old.
With his speed and explosive forehand, Rune has developed into one of the best tennis players in the world in a very short time.
The Dane is also characterised by his intelligent shot selection as well as his precise, powerful strokes from full speed.
Conclusion: If the first serve comes on the flowing line with Popyrin, I see potential for many games in the match against Rune. But that he stumbles now and then is shown by the statistics.
Aliassime came to four and O’Connell to six break opportunities in the match. Both players, however, are not on the current level of Rune, who I believe has even more chances to break Popyrin’s service games.
Due to the better quality of play, I see little chance for Popyrin to win a set against Rune in the end. At the most, it could be close in a tiebreak.
But the strong returning Dane will probably not let it get that far. Therefore, in my Popyrin Rune tip, I opt for a 2:0 for the Dane.