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Madrid Open Men’s: best bets from Thursday’s clay court action

After Novak Djokovic’s toppling of clay court don Rafa Nadal in Monte Carlo, he looked a shoo-in for a Madrid Open final spot at the very least, but the Serbinator was beaten by Grigor Dmitriov in round two, opening up the way for Andy Murray and Roger Federer to reach the final  The pair look set to progress as 1/6 favourites in Thursday’s action.

Andy Murray is 1/6 favourite to overcome world number 17 Gilles Simon in the pair’s third round meeting in Caja Magica, just as he has done in 10 of their 11 past meetings. Murray had to battle past Florian Mayer to get to this stage, taking both sets on tie breaks, meaning his last five matches have contained four sets won on a tie break – Coral offer 9/4 that his match with Simon contains a deadlock buster.

Spaniard Pablo Andujar-Alba looks a cracking bet to beat Daniel Gimeno-Traver at 8/13 despite being some rated some 61 places below his compatriot in the ATP world rankings. Both men have come past some quality opposition in the early rounds with Andujar-Alba besting Marin Cilic and John Isner and Gimeno-Traver taking out Feliciano Lopez and Richard Gasquet, but where the former’s second round win over the towering Isner was a straightforward 6-6, 6-4 affair, Gimeno-Traver had to grind out a second successive three setter against Gasquet.

Andujar-Alba has had the better of the pair’s head-to-head record – currently 5-2 in his favour – of late winning their last five meetings, all of which have been on clay.

The third clash due off at 11:00 BST is the meeting of Kei Nishikori and defending champion Roger Federer. Federer has reached at least the quarter final of his four completed tournaments this season and the Swiss has made at least the semis in the last three years at Caja Magica.

The world number two is a hot 1/6 favourite to beat 7/2 under dog Nishikori, just as he did in their sole past clash in a Basel indoor event in 2011. The “Fed Express” took that encounter 2-0 and with all but one of his Japanese rival’s six defeats this term coming in straight sets the favourite can be backed to triumph 2-0 at 4/9 with Coral.