The Best of the Day preview rips a forehand down the line with tennis tips for Alex de Minaur’s first-round encounter with Gianluca Mager in Rome. 

Tennis Tips – Gianluca Mager V Alex de Minaur

21:00 (AEST) @ Foro Italico, Rome

History: First meeting

Final thoughts: The Best of the Day preview charts Aussie Alex de Minaur’s build-up to the French Open, with his Rome Masters campaign kicking off against wildcard Gianluca Mager.

The 22-year-old was bundled out in the third round of the Australian Open in February by Fabio Fognini, before enduring a tough run of first-round exits in Dubai, Miami and Monte Carlo.

But de Minaur’s clay swing is on the improve. He beat Alexander Bublik (7-6 6-3) first up in Barcelona, before going down to second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas (7-5 6-3).

In Madrid last week, the world No.24 put away Jaume Munar and Lloyd Harris. He was eliminated in the third round by third seed Dominic Thiem, 7-6 6-4.

A hard-court specialist, de Minaur boasts just one win in four French Open appearances. He was rolled by qualifier Dominik Koepfer in the first round in Rome last year.

World No.90 Mager, meanwhile, thrives on clay. Seven of his eight ATP Challenger and ITF Futures titles came on the surface, while his only ATP final to date – a loss to Cristian Garin at last year’s Rio Open – was also on the red dirt.

He took a Challenger tournament in Marbella, Spain, last month.

The 26-year-old does not have a Grand Slam victory to his name as went down in straight sets to Aslan Karatsev at the Australian Open in February.

Mager reached the quarters of the Serbia Open in late-April. He beat Laslo Djere and Aussie Alex Popyrin along the way, before again falling to Karatsev.

The Italian failed to make it through the qualifiers in Madrid.

This shapes as a tricky assignment for de Minaur, who is a somewhat generous $1.59 Best of the Day favourite. But his recent form is solid enough to suggest he’ll get the W and a likely second-round date with Gael Monfils.

Tip: Games Handicap – Alex de Minaur -2.5 @ $1.87