Ace Tennis Previews: French Open Tips

The French Open is the biggest clay tournament and the only clay Gland Slam on the Pro Tour. This year, our resident tennis expert, Ace, previews both sides of the draw as well as providing us with daily French Open Tips.

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Nadal v Djokovic

15 days of main draw tennis at Roland Garros comes to an end today. A big thank you to everyone who has come along for the ride over the last couple of weeks, and I hope you have found a winner or two along the way.

We have the two biggest names in the draw meeting in the last grand slam final for 2020, and what a match we have in store. I will certainly be savouring each of these match-ups whilst we still have them, as there will be a time in the not-too-distant-future where this head-to-head will be for the history books only.

My outright selection for the tournament in Novak Djokovic is still alive, with the Serbian coming into this one as an underdog, as you would come to expect given Nadal’s history on this court. Nevertheless, let us dive a little deeper into this match-up and see if we can find a value spot to target for the final.

Rafael Nadal

This Roland Garros has probably had more question marks around Rafael Nadal than any other in recent memory. The lack of tennis in the lead-up, the loss to Schwartzman in Rome, the roof, the cooler conditions, the different tennis balls, it has had it all.

Whilst he was challenged at times against Diego Schwartzman in the semi-final, I am sure that Nadal would have taken a pathway to the final by playing Gerasimov, McDonald, Travaglia, Korda, Sinner and Schwartzman. Nadal has not lost a set along the way, which is both good and bad in a way.

Generally, by this stage of Roland Garros, Nadal has been able to put together a significant body of work on clay, including winning several titles in most years. Generally, we have seen him build and build, working on his fitness base across the tournaments in the lead-up to Roland Garros. This year, prior to the final he has played only four matches that have gone beyond 2 hours on clay:

  • Def by Schwartzman (Rome – 2hr03mins)
  • Def Gerasimov (RG – 2hr05mins)
  • Def Sinner (RG – 2hr49mins)
  • Def Schwartzman (3hr09mins)

Things got a little tight in that third set against Schwartzman, with Nadal unable to consolidate a service break on two consecutive occasions and had to dig exceptionally deep to save three break points at 5-5 in the third set. He found a way and was able to find another level in the third set tiebreak to be able to escape the battle of a fourth set.

The stats backed up that things were getting a little tight, with 14 winners and 16 unforced errors for Nadal in the third set, needing a tiebreak to beat Schwartzman who could only deliver 9 winners and 21 unforced errors for the set.

Be it a win or a loss, Nadal has not seen the late-match tension that can be so difficult to replicate since the start of the year. We also have not seen him pushed to the physical limit since the tour resumes, so there is an ever so slight question mark there for me.

Novak Djokovic

Whilst Nadal perhaps has not been tested physically across the tournament, the same cannot be said for Djokovic. Like most grand slam fortnights, there has certainly been an element of drama in parts for the fortnight of Djokovic. It started with domination, much like Nadal, with wins over Ymer, Berankis and Galan in relatively quick fashion.

He statistically put together a very impressive performance against Karen Khachanov in the fourth round give the form of the Russian, and it looked as though things were ticking along nicely for the Serbian. Things took a turn in the quarter-final, with Djokovic struggling with an apparent neck/shoulder/arm/trailing on the scoreboard type of issue, yet still managed to run through the next three sets 6-2 6-3 6-4, even with a little lapse in the third set.

We have seen neck/shoulder issues in the past, however with these issues coming and going, I actually quite like that he hasn’t suffered any issues to the lower half of his body, as hit fitness and court coverage is going to be the key here.

Whilst the semi-final win over Tsitsipas raised some question marks as well, he was still able to win his sets 6-3 6-2 and 6-1 across the 5-setter.

The Match-Up

Novak has won 14 of the last 18 meetings between the two since 2013, however, Nadal has won 4 of the 6 meetings on the clay. The conditions are so different here that it will certainly make for some intriguing viewing. I do not have question marks over Djokovic’s ability to back up from the semi-final personally, as he is arguably the best endurance athlete on tour. It brings about the question of what is more of an issue:

  • That Nadal has not been challenged physically or found himself in tough match since the tour resumed, or;
  • That Djokovic received such a challenge less than 48 hours before this match.

I like to play to numbers and not the players, and to mine, the current price on Djokovic has now reached a point where it is value. If this were over a best-of-3 set format, the staking would be significantly lower, however, I am comfortable siding with Novak to claim the title here as an underdog.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 2.5 units Djokovic to win (recorded at $2.20)

Swiatek vs Kenin

We have a final here that not too many people may have expected, however is being undertaken by the two form players of the fortnight without a doubt.

First of all, a big well done to those who took Iga Swiatek in the outright markets, putting themselves in a fantastic position with her starting this final as a pretty clear favourite. For mine, she is a little short in the betting today, however I have another market standing out for a small play this evening.

Whilst there have been so many negatives that have come out of 2020, I think Sofia Kenin will be looking back on the year a little more positively than most. She has already claimed the Australian Open title, as well as a career high ranking, one that will only be strengthened as points start to drop off in March next year (barring further delays). After receiving a 0-6 0-6 loss to Victoria Azarenka in Rome, Kenin has showed her ability to produce her best level when called upon multiple times across the tournament. She was taken to three sets in round 1, came from a set down in round 2, came from a set down in round 4, bounced back from dropping the second set to Collins in the quarter final with a 6-0 decider, and was the better player in almost every key moment against Petra Kvitova in the 6-4 7-5 quarter final win. Kenin saved 10/12 break points faced, and broke on 4/5 opportunities. She has shown through the latter stages of the Australian Open and now at Roland Garros that she isn’t afraid of the occasion, and will not back down of withdraw from the contest, which is something that really stands out to me in this match with her as an underdog.

I think Swiatek is a deserving favourite, however it is a little difficult to quantify the impact of experience in this match. Swiatek has never won a WTA level tour title, with her one final coming in Lugano last year. She struggled at times throughout that match, ultimately losing to Polona Hercog in three sets. This is many many steps up in terms of pressure, however from what we have seen from her this fortnight, notably in that win over Simona Halep, she looks to be stepping up to the occasion here quite well. She is yet to drop a set in singles, and has looked to maintain her level quite well from start to finish, including overcoming a break deficit against Hsieh earlier in the tournament.

Given the edge here on form lies with Swiatek, and Kenin has shown her ability to maintain and even step up her level when trailing over the fortnight, I like this match to be incredibly close. The total is currently sitting at 21.5, and with the more inexperienced player as favourite, this looks to be a spot to take the total going over. I will take that for 1 unit.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1 unit total games over 21.5 (recorded at $1.94)

Schwartzman vs Nadal

I need to place a reminder at the start of this preview, as this is something I need to make a little clearer for anyone who may have recently started reading these previews.

My unit staking sits between 0.5 and 5 units for any staked selection. For me, the greater the staking, the greater the value in that spot in my opinion. I do not bet on the confidence of win level, which I feel I need throw that reminder in on occasion as some bet selections would look absurd if the bet was placed on win confidence.

A bit like taking Schwartzman to win here as being a little absurd on a confidence scale for high units. To me though, his price is great value in the conditions.

I want to step away from the tennis court for a moment to highlight a very important transition that looks to have taken place over the last couple of weeks: Diego Schwartzman finally believes in himself. It is amazing what a win or two can do for the confidence levels in this game. You listen to him on court after big matches, such as his win over Thiem, and it becomes quite evident that he genuinely feels like he now belongs in those big matches. We have seen him in the past look a little out of place against the likes of Djokovic and Nadal, however, I was thrilled to see his body language and mindset stay with him for a lot longer against Thiem, especially when he fell down 2 sets to 1.

We have seen Diego play scintillating tennis against Nadal; however, he has been unable to maintain the level for long enough. They played a brilliant 4-set match at the Australian Open that was perhaps even closer than the scoreboard suggested in 2018. Diego took the first set in their Roland Garros ¼ final in 2018. Last year, Schwartzman lost to Nadal in straight sets at the US Open, however, found a way to fight back from big deficits in a couple of sets to keep things close. There have been little patches and glimpse that he is edging in the right direction, whilst improving his game overall. The conditions here are more suited than the standard Roland Garros conditions as well, which needs to be acknowledged. The question is: has Nadal improved or regressed in recent years, and how much do we take from their recent meeting in Rome?

I do not read too much into the Rome match, as it was Nadal’s first match back, and the first time he found himself challenged in clutch positions since the tour resumed. The only difference is Schwartzman gaining confidence that his tactics work, which is a big step in the right direction. Outside of the Travaglia match, Nadal has not been blowing players off the court with winners, so this is going to be a different look today against a player that is willing to extend rallies and reduce unforced errors. This is going to be the biggest physical test since the tour resumed for Nadal, and by a long, long way. We know what to expect from Diego, as he handled 5 sets versus Thiem incredibly well (and got an extra day of rest as well), however, this is going to be a genuine test for Rafa off not a lot of tennis.

Nadal looks to not quite be timing his forehand down the line, which is going to be a crucial component of this match-up. In Rome, Nadal was playing it a little safe when attacking down the line of the forehand side, and Schwartzman was not afraid to hit back behind Nadal and go back up the line himself. Schwartzman looked comfortable staying near the baseline, not conceding ground to Nadal and taking the ball early, and he will need to do that again today.

It seems weird to say this about the best clay tennis player I have ever witnessed, and arguably the best of all time, however, I do have some question marks here. It is enough for me to take Schwarzman to win at a high value price. I believe that he will win, however, more importantly, he looks to believe it.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 3.5 units Schwartzman to win (recorded at $6.50)

Djokovic vs Tsitsipas

The multitude of injury concerns that have plagued Novak Djokovic during his quarter final against Pablo Carreno Busta, concerns that I am content in largely ignoring overall, has probably opened some value on him today at the game handicap against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

If there is a significant issue plaguing Djokovic in some capacity in this match, you would almost lean towards the Serbian retiring if things start to look a little bleak. Nevertheless, with all the issues that Djokovic encountered during the quarter final, he was still able to win his match 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-4 in just over 3 hours. We have seen Djokovic’s stats compared to the other top players that he is handling the conditions a lot better compared to preview Roland Garros tournaments, and it showed with his ability to get 53 winners past the Spaniard, whilst also winning 26/36 points at the net. As I am anticipating an improved physical performance from Novak today, this looks to be a nice spot to attack him whilst there are some question marks.

I mentioned the other day that Tsitsipas was far more suited to the conditions in Paris in comparison to Hamburg, and it showed with his ability to turn the tables on Andrey Rublev with a 7-5 6-2 6-3 victory. He trailed 3-5 early, however was in complete control from that moment, finishing the match with 35 winners and 17 unforced errors. We have seen him pressure Novak in the best of 3 set format, however I have some genuine question marks over his ability to sustain his level against Novak in this scenario, especially on heavy clay.

The -4.5 game handicap looks to be a little short, thanks to the question marks over the fitness of Djokovic. Novak will be the better player for longer, and in these conditions, there is enough value in his game handicap for a 2 unit selection.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 2 units Djokovic -4.5 games (recorded at $1.83)

Swiatek vs Podoroska

If you predicted this to be your semifinal for the top half of the draw, then fair play and well done to you. Nerves will certainly be present on the big stage today, with these two both taking part in what is by far the biggest match of their lives.

Iga Swiatek has looked to be quite short in the outright markets since defeating Simona Halep, and is currently the outright favourite for the tournament, having not won a WTA level title previously, and with two grand slam champions sitting in the bottom half of the draw. She is the most likely to reach the final, as she is the shortest odds of the four remaining players, however, today’s task looks to be a little tougher than odds suggest in my opinion.

You know I have a high opinion of Nadia Podoroska based on me backing her in at a solid price in the quarter-final against Svitolina. She showed she was not afraid of the big stage, putting 30 winners past the Ukrainian who looks awfully passive as the experienced player in the situation.

We have seen time and time again over the course of the fortnight that Podoroska is keen to back herself in tight situations, including coming back from a break deficit early in set 1, and multiple times in set 2.

Swiatek’s tournament has been nothing short of phenomenal, however, Podoroska’s weight of shot and court coverage combination is a slightly different look to what she has seen so far this tournament. Her opponents through five matches have averaged 0.71 winners per game to date, with Podoroska on her journey averaging over double that with 1.46 winners per game. This is a more attacking look, meaning Swiatek will not as consistently have the ability to gain control of his match like we have seen through the first five matches.

That is not to say that Swiatek will lose, I just feel as though Podoroska will have at least one patch of control at some stage in this match, which will lend itself to a closer match than Swiatek has seen for the tournament. Given the pressure that will come on the first set winner edging towards their first ever grand slam final, and the ability for both players to dictate and control proceedings at times here, I am happy to take this one to go over 19.5 games for 2.5 units.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 2.5 units total games over 19.5 (recorded at $1.82)

Kenin v Kvitova

Here we have the battle of two grand slam champs, and this semi final looks to be an absolute beauty.

Petra Kvitova leads the head to head in this match-up, with one of her two victories coming against Sofia Kenin in Madrid in 2019. You could almost say that counts for next to nothing, with the conditions in Madrid incredibly different now, along with the form of Kenin in 2020 being significantly better than any year of hers previously.

Kvitova has been able to build a solid fortnight of tennis and is yet to drop a set in Paris through five matches. When you look at the names Dodin, Paolini, Fernandez, Zhang and Siegemund, we have a more experienced opposition, more comfortable with the occasion in Kenin today. I did say that Siegemund was going to be a significant challenge for Kvitova, however, the Czech made me look a little silly.

Siegemund adopted the philosophy that hitting harder early was going to help her when it instead played into Kvitova’s hands perfectly. Siegemund used a little more variety in set two, however, had limited power in her serve late due to her lower back issue. Kvitova was unable to consolidate a couple of breaks in the middle of the set, with some untimely double faults, however, was the better player for longer.

Kenin has found herself in some tricky spots over the course of the tournament, which you would have to say is a success already given her 0-6 0-6 loss to Azarenka in Rome as her lead-up form. She has looked a lot more aggressive in the heavy conditions and has not been fazed by the scoreboard pressure she has felt down a set to Bogdan and Ferro earlier in the tournament.

I have Kvitova advancing here, however much like the first semi-final, I think we are in for a tight tussle. Whilst not as strong as semi-final one, I am happy to side with the total going over 21.5 games for 1.5 units.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units total games over 21.5 (recorded at $1.90)

Kvitova vs Siegemund

There was a reason why I was not keen on Petra Kvitova facing Laura Siegemund, as it was the main reason putting me off jumping on the price for Petra to add to my outright market selections. Nevertheless, Kvitova meets Siegemund in the quarter final, and is under the odds significantly given this style of match-up.

If you give Kvitova the same type of looks point after point, set after set, you are generally going to have a very bad time against her on the court in these conditions. We saw that on Day 9, with Shuai Zhang unable to impact the scoreboard to exert pressure against Petra, losing 2-6 4-6 in relatively quick fashion.

Kvitova was solid, however, did not set the world on fire, with 23 winners and 29 unforced. Importantly though, she found her rhythm early in the conditions, with Zhang unable to come up with an effective plan B in the conditions.

Laura Siegemund is making up for lost time in this edition of the French Open. In 2017, as one of the form players coming into the tournament, Siegemund, unfortunately, tore her ACL in her knee, leading to almost a year of tennis in the prime of her career being lost. It has been a long road back, with some highs, lows, and a bit of luck (see round 1 double bounce vs Mladenovic) has been thrown in as well.

This last week has been a genuine reward for effort, and her ability to absorb the pace of Mladenovic, Goerges and Badosa, whilst also dispatching Petra Martic from a set down has been exceptional. Her ability to return serve against other power hitters in these conditions has certainly been noted.

Kvitova had trouble at times against other players with solid court coverage in bursts, winning only 56% of points on serve against Paolini in a 6-3 6-3 win, and 55% of points on serve against Leylah Fernandez when overcoming a heavy deficit early in set 1. Add in the composure, ability to hit spots with her first serve, and use of variety including lobs and dropshots, and this all adds up to Siegemund looking to be a value price to pressure even further today.

I was not lying when I said this is Petra’s biggest hurdle left in the draw in these conditions, outside of perhaps Swiatek. She is unders here, and that makes it hard to take her in the outright market currently. I cannot let Siegemund go around at this price without making a play. If she can extend rallies, test the fitness of Kvitova and hit her first serve at a decent clip, she is in this match up to her eyeballs.

If Petra were to win this one, and well, I will likely jump into her outright price, so stay tuned for a comment on that tomorrow if needed.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 2.5 units Siegemund to defeat Kvitova (recorded at $3.85)

Tsitsipas vs Rublev

Querrey and Fucsovics have shown that Rublev is vulnerable this week. Can Tsitsipas finish the Russian off and reach the semi-final?

Whilst the trust in Tsitsipas hasn’t truly been regained since he issues against Coric at the US Open, and then against Rublev in Hamburg last week, I think there is value in his price today at the game handicap given the efforts of both players over the course of the clay “season”.

Tsitsipas’ was able to put in his most settled performance of the tournament in round 4, defeating Grigor Dimitrov 6-3 7-6 6-2 in 2hrs26mins. Whilst he did face some set points in the second set tiebreak, his ability to limit unforced errors in clutch situations was crucial, with Stefanos not dropping serve for the entirety of the match. In fact, Tsitsipas has only dropped his serve once through his last 3 matches/8 sets, which will give him a lot of confidence leading into today.

These two have followed similar paths over the course of the tournament, now meeting in the quarter final. They both trailed 2 sets to 0 in the first round and have picked up their games as they have adjusted to the conditions. I do have a couple of significant question marks about Rublev coming off his win against Fucsovics.

The Hungarian led 7-6 *5-3 30/0, before Rublev was able to dig in, claiming victory 6-7 7-5 6-4 7-6 in 3hrs54mins. Rublev was down a break in the third and had to save triple set point in the fourth when serving at *4-5, so it was only a point from being another five set battle for the Russian. He is an immense talent, and a player I will be looking at in Australian Open markets as we edge towards January, however, I just haven’t seen enough dominant tennis from him, outside of his effort against Kevin Anderson coming off a 5-setter, to perceive his price or game handicap as value today.

I have the conditions suiting Tsitsipas here a little more than we saw in Hamburg a week and a half ago. Tsitsipas led 5-3 in the decider that day, before Rublev rattled off 16 of the last 19 points to claim victory.

Tsitsipas generated more break points across the match, however, Rublev was better in terms of conversion. In the heavier conditions here, over the best of 5 format, I cannot help but think this is more suited to Tsitsipas than it is Rublev.

The Russian was able to dig himself out of a number of tricky spots in his fourth round match with Fucsovics, but the fact he found himself in those positions in the first place is the concern, as Tsitsipas in his form over the last couple of rounds, having conserved some energy, should have the advantage. I am happy to take Tsitsipas -2.5 games here for 2.5 units.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 2.5 units Tsitsipas -2.5 games (recorded at $1.91)

Schwartzman vs Thiem

Normally we reach this part of the tournament and we hit Diego Schwartzman coming off far too much tennis for his own good, facing one of the top seeds with not a lot of petrol in the tank. This year, the tables have been turned, with Diego coming into his quarter-final fresh against a top seed that has spent a lot of time on court over the last month, and made his way through round 4 with a 5 set victory.

This is about the best chance Schwartzman may have to push to a semi-final or even a final of a grand slam. The confidence Schwartzman gained from defeating Rafael Nadal is hard to quantify, however his ability to get to the quarter-final with wins over Kecmanovic, Giustino, Gombos and Sonego, without losing a set, is an incredibly important factor in this one. He looks to be one of the players most suited to the conditions, with each of his opponents struggling mightily to get the ball past him on a consistent basis, and DSS has reaped the rewards in arriving in the final eight about as fresh as he could be.

Dominic Thiem on the other hand has not had the smoothest run through his four rounds. He did have straight-set wins over Marin Cilic, Jack Sock and Casper Ruud, however did have lapses in each match. Luckily for the Austrian, he saved his best tennis for almost every clutch moment, hitting some phenomenal shots in each to progress to the fourth round. It was anticipated by many before the tournament that Thiem was going to receive a very stern challenge in the fourth round, however nobody expected that challenge to come from Hugo Gaston.

Thiem looked to be in complete control, leading 6-4 6-4, then went on to drop the next two sets and find himself in a decider. Gaston was able to effectively use the drop shot better than most and was able to capitalize on Thiem’s court position being so far back on average. Thiem was able to find his level again in the 5th, taking it 6-3 with 15 winners and 8 unforced errors. Even with the solid stats, he still faced a breakpoint and chance for Gaston to put things back on serve at *5-3. He remarked after the game that he was not quite at his best physically, and I am sure he would have loved being off court 2 hours faster against Gaston.

Those concerns voiced in the post-match interview have knocked a bit of value out of the price, however I still think there is some decent value in the head to head price of Schwartzman given his form over the last fortnight. Schwartzman is one of the best players at coming in and taking the ball early, to the point it can offset his power disadvantage in a lot of situations.

Thiem starts a fair way back (may not be as far today), however if DSS can pin him deep, his ability to take the ball early and either attack with groundstrokes of drop shots will go a long way to deciding this match. Diego will not lose this match, Thiem will need to win it. To do that, he will need to knuckle down and play a lot better than we have seen this fortnight.

There is no discernable weakness that Thiem can target, and that could be a problem in these conditions. Happy to take Diego to win here for 2.5 units.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 2.5 units Schwartzman to win (recorded at $2.90)

Podoroska vs Svitolina

Elina Svitolina may never have a better chance to break her grand slam drought, however she remains the hunted in the top half of the draw as the most experienced player remaining.

On the surface, Svitolina would be assumed to be the favourite in the top half, however the form of Iga Swiatek has taken over that role. Today Svitolina faces a qualifier in Nadia Podoroska, who has put together an exceptional run over the last month or so on the red clay.

We will start with Podoroska, as I must say I got a little lucky in opposing her in the fourth round. I have Barbora Krejcikova +3.5 games, which looked in great shape after a 6-2 first and still probably should have lost. Podoroska exceeded my already high expectations, rebounding so very well from that first set to win 2-6 6-2 6-3 in just over 2 hours.

I have been impressed with her ability to maintain her aggressive nature, regardless of the type of opponent she has faced this fortnight. For 79 of the 180 points in her match with Krejcikova to be decided by either winners or unforced errors against a player like Krejcikova suggests she is more than confident in her ability to dictate, which is incredibly impressive given her stature.

I have been comfortable opposing Svitolina with players who are able to move relatively well (given Svitolina’s low winner rate this fortnight) and can pull the trigger and backing themselves when necessary. We saw that with Podoroska in her win over Putintseva earlier this week, so she is certainly capable. Svitolina does have a significant experience edge however and handled Caroline Garcia and her 16 winners and 34 unforced errors quite comfortably. The form of both players this last few weeks has been stellar, and this shapes as a fascinating contest.

I have Svitolina at longer odds here than the current quote, meaning there is value in the price on Podoroska. Given the experience edge of Svitolina in this type of situation however, I will keep it to 1.5 units. I think there is more value in the head to head price than the games handicap, as when you look at price and predicted win percentage over time, I would rather take the $3.75 for 1.5 units.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Podoroska to win (recorded at $3.75)

Kvitova vs Zhang

From what I have seen over the last couple of weeks, we would need to see a significant uptick in form today from Shuai Zhang for this one to be close to a competitive match.

Break point saves were the order of the day in round 3 for Zhang, saving 17/23 opportunities earned by Clara Burel in a 7-6 7-5 victory. Over half of call points won by Zhang were from unforced errors off the racquet of Burel, who looked to struggle a little bit with the occasion, especially in key moments.

After a slow start in the previous round against Leylah Fernandez, Kvitova came charging back to take the match 7-5 6-3 in just under two hours. Her slow starts have been a little bit worrying at times and is part of the reason my play on this match will be limited to 2 units. Whilst clay is not her strongest surface

This match has the makings of a similar result to Zhang’s loss to Rybakina last week in Strasbourg. Whilst this is the best run Zhang has put together over multiple tournaments on clay in recent memory, I think she might be outgunned a touch by Petra.

Whilst you could make a case that Zhang won against Keys in round one and can handle the pace, Keys did not look comfortable in the conditions in the slightest. The centre court conditions suit Kvitova today, and the -4.5 game handicap here looks to be worth a play.

Zhang will need to be successful with some lower percentage tennis to keep this one close, and I am happy to take her on today.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 2 units Kvitova -4.5 games (recorded at $1.85)

Rublev vs Fucsovics

I have been waiting for Andrey Rublev to come up against an experienced player capable to exploiting opposition weakness. The time has come.

This is arguably a part of the Fucsovics vs Monteiro match-up that I should have taken into more consideration when making the play. Fucsovics has shown multiple times this year, including vs Shapovalov at the Australian Open, that he is capable of targeting opposition weaknesses, even if it means he must change up his game at times.

Fucsovics did just that against Monteiro in the previous round, winning almost every key point across the three sets on his way to victory. He was broken in his first two service games, however, broke back instantly each time and only faced one more break point for the rest of the match. I did not think the match-up against Monteiro was suitable for him, and he made me look silly. Today, I think the match-up actually does suit him.

It ended up being a bit of a cheap kill in round 3 for Rublev, with Kevin Anderson struggling significantly off his 5-setter with Lajovic. 27 winners and 16 unforced errors was all it took for Rublev to win 6-3 6-2 6-3, not facing a break point for the match. Since Querrey served for the match in round 1, Rublev has gone largely unchallenged since, however today looks to be a significant step up in clay opposition.

Whilst it is too far back to really take into significant consideration, it is worth mentioning that Fucsovics has a 2-0 record on clay against Rublev, winning their meetings at Barcelona in 2016 and in Davis Cup in 2017. Fucsovics will have taken a lot from viewing Dan Evans’ win over Rublev in the Western & Southern Open, as well Hurkacz a couple of weeks ago.

If you can defend well, use angles well and draw Rublev inside the baseline playing shots from a low contact point, Fucsovics is going to be able to open the court up to attack himself. I have high hopes in his ability to be able to achieve this, as well as continuing to hit his spots on serve.

I will split this play across the head to head price and game handicap. This looks one of a couple of potential upsets on Day 8. I cannot wait to watch this one.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Fucsovics +5.5 games (recorded at $2.10)

BACK — 1.5 units Fucsovics to win (recorded at $5)

Outright selections conversation

I remarked at the start of the tournament that I would wait until the first weekend of the tournament to make a call on Petra Kvitova from an outright perspective. There have been a few upsets take place around her in the draw, so her price is currently a touch below $7 on the exchange.

Left with her in the quarter are Shuai Zhang, Paula Badosa and Laura Siegemund. If she makes it out of the quarter, she will face one of Kenin/Ferro/Jabeur/Collins. On form, I would like her chances against all those four, however, strangely enough, I think the match-up that could cause her the biggest headache amongst this list is Siegemund, given her variety.

Her price is unlikely to come in significantly unless Halep finds her way out of the tournament, so I would look to keep her safe in your outright market if you have made a couple of selections. If Siegemund loses to Badosa tomorrow, I may look to jump in. I will comment more once we know the schedule for tomorrow.

Zverev vs Sinner

Whilst the straight set run of Jannik Sinner has been impressive over the first week of the tournament, it does feel as though it has been a touch overblown, leading to a game handicap on Alexander Zverev today that is incredibly appealing.

Do not get me wrong, I am all aboard the Sinner train for the years to come, and he will continue to rise rapidly through the rankings. That being said, the love for his performances this week have been a little too over the top in my opinion.

Had you inserted the name Zverev or Djokovic instead of Sinner, and said they would make the 4th round of Roland Garros with wins over an out-of-form David Goffin, then Benjamin Bonzi and Federico Coria, the run to the fourth round would have been labelled as quite weak.

He also caught Tsitsipas in Rome at a tournament without his dad for the first time, which apparently meant Stefanos did not have someone coaching him through every point of the match like we have come to know.

Today is going to be a completely different look for Sinner, with an opponent capable of generating some cheap points behind their first serve. For perspective, Coria’s average first-serve speed on Day 6 was actually 6km/h slower than Zverev’s average SECOND serve speed vs Cecchinato.

After not playing on clay since the US Open, Zverev has built into his work over the first three rounds. The German overcame an early break deficit in round 1, defeating Dennis Novak 7-5 6-2 6-4. I do not feel too concerned that it took Zverev 5 sets to get beyond Pierre-Hugues Herbert, given Herbert is such a different look, coming into the net 93 times across the match.

It led to Zverev struggling to gain rhythm in rallies, as 28% of points finished with his opponent at the net, something we will not see as much today from Sinner (69 approaches across three matches, mostly against Coria). Zverev bounced back in round 3, and was the better player in all key moments, defeating Marco Cecchinato 6-1 7-5 6-3. Given the lack of clay tennis in the lead-up to the tournament, it is nice to see Zverev build his confidence across the three rounds so far in Paris.

As I said earlier, I can completely understand and am well on board with the hype surrounding Sinner, however, it is leading to his prices being well below what should be a true reflection of his odds.

At the end of the day, Sinner is yet to win a grand slam match that has gone longer than 3 sets. Although the conditions are significantly different to New York, the last time we saw him in a long match it ended with a drop in level due to physical distress (he was lucky to force a 5th set tiebreak thanks to Khachanov’s inability to convert).

With a CV containing grand slam wins over Max Purcell, David Goffin (check his form since the tour returned and you will realise this doesn’t carry as much weight), Benjamin Bonzi and Federico Coria, stepping up to play one of the in-form players on tour, on arguably their favourite surface, is an incredibly tough ask.

Aided by his ability to generate cheap points on serve (that should far outweigh the double fault count), and against a Sinner serve that is just touching 200k/h at top range, it should lead to break point opportunities on a consistent basis for the German. Across the best of 5 format at this stage of his career, I think the going will be too tough for Sinner.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 5 units Zverev -3.5 games (recorded at $2)

Bertens vs Trevisan

Right, now that we have the “Wheelchair-Gate” match out of the way, it looks as though things have returned to normal for Kiki Bertens, as she takes on Martina Trevisan today in the fourth round.

This looks to be a pretty favourable match-up for Bertens, who admittedly did well to overcome her physical issues in her win over Sara Errani in round 2. That match-up was particularly difficult for her, so I was impressed with her ability to keep the pressure on and come away with the controversial win.

She put any fears regarding her fitness aside with a dominant round 3 win, defeating Katerina Siniakova 6-2 6-2 in under an hour. Bertens is going to be a different look for Trevisan, with the only other player the Italian has faced here in Paris being the injured Camilla Giorgi.

Whilst Trevisan has been able to find her way into return games consistently against the likes of Sakkari and Gauff in the previous rounds, the Italian is going to consistently find herself on the back foot today. She has overperformed on break point conversion over the last two rounds as well, converting 16/23 chances whilst saving 16/32.

Whilst her run here this week has been impressive, I think it ends today for Trevisan. She is into unfamiliar territory against a stronger, more favoured player coming off a confidence boosting win. Bertens knows how to handle this situation, having made the semifinals here in the past, and should be too good. I am happy to back her in at the -4.5 game handicap for 2.5 units

Suggested Bet

BACK — 2.5 units Bertens -4.5 games (to be recorded at $1.97)

Monteiro vs Fucsovics

I have generally been quite wary to either avoid or oppose form lines that have come through Daniil Medvedev on clay over the last couple of weeks, as it just doesn’t seem to be stacking up in comparison to some of the other top players. We have an opportunity to take on this form again today with Marton Fucsovics taking on Thiago Monteiro as a heavy favourite.

Fucsovics was able to generate one of the upsets of the first round, defeating Medvedev 6-4 7-6 2-6 6-1, breaking the Russian 6 times. It was a poor showing from the Russian, producing 27 winners and 51 unforced errors, compared to Fucsovics’ 36 and 49. Whilst the Hungarian was solid, it did feel as though this was more a case of the Russian struggling more than Fucsovics dominating, however you can only beat who is on the other side of the net.

Fucsovics continued his winning ways in round 2, defeating the largely out-of-form Albert Ramos 7-6 6-3 7-5 in just over three hours. Fucsovics did a great job of attacking the second serve of the Spaniard, winning 20/35 points on second serve return. The unforced error count remained on the high side; however, it was a statistically improved performance on his round 1 efforts. When you cast on eye over his last five matches, all at grand slam level, it looks a little better on paper than further research suggests in my opinion.

Today he comes up against a very capable, and in-form claycourters in Thiago Monteiro. The Brazilian has backed up his form from Forli last week with two straight set wins over Basilashvili and Giron in quick fashion. Whilst neither opponent is anywhere near as difficult as what he will face today in Fucsovics, it is the way in which he has won both matches that has stood out to me. He has been consistent in building pressure up on return games across the match, and this has been aided by his own first serve, which I still feel is a little underrated to be completely honest.

As soon as I saw these two players win in round 2, I had a feeling the form of Fucsovics was going to be overrated. Continuing with the trend of opposing the ‘they beat Medvedev’ form lines, I love Monteiro to win today at what looks to be a value price.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 3 units Monteiro to win (to be recorded at $2.76)

Garin vs Khachanov

If you feel as though you have a strong understanding of what style of players match up well for particular opponents, it can go a long way to helping you find value in markets.

The perception that Cristian Garin struggled against Marc Polmans means next to nothing to this match-up in my opinion. Whilst Garin did not dominate the match-up in a way I thought he might (personally took the -8 games which missed by 2), he does struggle a little more against players that don’t generate a lot of pace. If you are the one that must consistently generate power and pace into rallies for the benefit of your own game, it can be a little more difficult to maintain consistency across a best of 5 set match. Nevertheless, the Chilean was able to generate 80 winners across the match, taking it 6-7 6-2 7-6 6-4.

Karen Khachanov was another to struggle at times in round 2 and was very lucky to not need a fifth set to defeat Jiri Vesely, taking it 6-1 6-7 7-6 7-6. It was a patchy performance, with both players really struggling behind their second serves. If Khachanov, who doesn’t have the biggest first serve on tour, struggled against Vesely at times on serve, then I do have some big question marks over the Russian’s ability to handle Garin in these conditions over five sets.

When I saw these two were scheduled to meet, I was anticipating needing to give up around 3 games in a handicap if I wanted to back Cristian Garin. Instead, we look to have a value price on Garin to win the match outright, and I am happy to take this for 3.5 units. His consistency on the surface will be too much for Khachanov in his current form.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 3.5 units Garin to defeat Khachanov (to be recorded at $1.88)

Muguruza vs Collins

After a positive result on Danielle Collins against Clara Tauson in the second round, it looks to me as though the American has again been posted up at a value underdog price, this time against Garbine Muguruza.

Part of the reason for not jumping into the outright price on Muguruza for the tournament was the fact she was coming into the tournament with a slight injury concern, whilst also facing one of the underrated clay players in the Top 100 in Tamara Zidansek. After trailing 0-3 in the final set, Muguruza found a way to win, claiming the decider 8-6 in just over three hours. It was a far more favourable match-up in round 2, with the Spaniard comfortably accounting for Kristyna Pliskova6-3 6-2 in 68 minutes. The conditions did not suit Pliskova and Muguruza did well to get the job done in quick time.

Collins was fantastic in her second-round win over Tauson as an underdog, hitting 26 winners and 10 unforced errors in a 6-2 6-3 win in 70 minutes (which also included a medical timeout). She won over half of points on the first and second serve return and dominated the match-up from start to finish. Collins is becoming one of those players that you know will deliver her best tennis at grand slam more often than not, and she will have gained a lot of confidence from her last 4 sets on the surface.

These two met in Rome last year, with Muguruza winning in three sets, however the form of both has changed quite a bit. Personally, the $4+ for Collins looks to be value, as does the +4.5 game handicap at $2+, so I will split up my stake across the two in what should be a fascinating match to close out the day.

Suggested Bet

BACK —  1.5 units Collins +4.5 games (recorded at $2.02)
BACK —  1 unit Collins to win (recorded at $4.20)

Martic vs Siegemund

I will keep this one short and sharp, with Laura Siegemund under a significant injury cloud coming into this match.

I was already keen on Petra Martic in this match-up, and the fact Siegemund had to retire from her doubles yesterday has strengthened this enough to make is a play for today. It sounds as though it was a lower back issue for Siegemund, with the retirement a precaution to allow her to take part in the singles today. What needs to be considered here though is Siegemund has had a charmed run, giving up big deficits to two players struggling to find wins at the moment (Mladenovic and Goerges), and arguably should have found herself in an even bigger hole in round 1 were it not for the chair umpire missing the ball bouncing twice on set point at 5-1 for Kiki. Whilst Siegemund has been able to come back in both matches, she cannot afford to do the same today against Petra Martic.

The win of Martic over Kudermetova cannot be underestimated, with the Croatian coming from a set down to claim victory. Break point conversion was an issue, converting only 4/16 chances. Generating that many chances against Kudermetova bodes well for Martic today, given the weaker serve she will see today.

This will be a crafty game that will make for fascinating viewing. With the question marks over the fitness of Siegemund and having already liked Martic at the -3.5-game handicap, I am happy to get involved here for 1.5 units.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Martic -3.5 games (recorded at $1.82)

Pironkova vs Krejcikova

When you look at the odds and the draw, you would not be crazy in thinking that people have treated the win from Pironkova over Serena as a genuine, dominant, straight set victory. Instead, we have near even odds for both players with Pironkova only owning one win on the clay since her resumption to the tour after 39 months away.

Whilst I can understand and certainly appreciated the comeback from Pironkova on the hardcourts during her run at the US Open, at least she had an impressive body of work on the hardcourts before she stepped away from the tour.

On the clay, she had never made it past the quarter final of any WTA level tournament, with a 42-47 record over her career. She made one run at Roland Garros, reaching the quarter finals before losing to Sam Stosur in 2016. I think too much is being made of the victory over Andrea Petkovic, who looked to really struggle in her first match on the surface.

Whilst she is known for her doubles exploits at the top level, the singles form of Barbora Krejcikova is continuing to gain pace. After putting together a very solid month in the Czech Republic, which included pushing Simona Halep to three sets in Prague, The Czech has put together two very impressive wins against Nina Stojanovic and Barbora Strycova.

Her win over Stojanovic was very impressive in the conditions and showed she can handle the harder hitting players (like Pironkova) in these conditions. What impressed me against Strycova was her ability to remain aggressive, even though she had lost the second set. She continues to make big strides forward and looks to be a great price today.

I cannot justify a price that short for Pironkova given her previous clay form and given the body of work Krejcikova has been able to put together on the surface, I am more than happy to attack this price today.

BACK — 4 units Krejcikova to defeat Pironkova (to be recorded at $2)

Martinez vs Korda

I thought a few too many people had bought in to the thought that the conditions at Roland Garros suited John Isner, purely off a victory over Benchetrit and some positive comments from John Isner in the press conference after the match.

Whilst I was incredibly impressed in the efforts of Sebastian Korda to defeat Isner in round 2, the 20-year-old is going to have an incredibly tough task today against another in-form qualifier in Pedro Martinez.

Korda was incredibly consistent in his 6-4 6-4 2-6 6-4 victory over Isner, generating 46 winners and 28 unforced errors in his 2hr26 victory. It capped off a fifth victory of the tournament for Korda, having knocked off Krueger, Schnur, Karatsev and Seppi along the journey.

Whilst I think Korda has terrific upside, and can match it with the out-of-form players who struggle at times on clay, such as Seppi, and big strikers who aren’t suited to the conditions such as Isner, I think today’s match with Martinez will be far and away the toughest task he has faced over the last ten day.

Martinez has been exceptional through his five rounds to date in my opinion. After kicking off with a 3-setter against Daniel Masur, Martinez has put together straight set victories over Haase, Blanch, Vukic and Kukushkin, including delivering a 6-0 to each of Vukic and Kukushkin. He is really starting to build the consistency in his game that has previously been lacking, which can lead to a higher comfort level in taking him at minus game handicaps in this situation.

Korda took a medical timeout in his win over Isner and benefitted from being able to keep points very short in that match. He will have no such luck against Martinez today, and I have the Spaniard being far too strong in this one in the conditions across the best-of-5 sets.

BACK — 2 units Martinez -4.5 games (to be recorded at $1.90)

Alexandrova vs Svitolina

Whilst Elina Svitolina has looked solid on the clay when she has had the ability to dictate and control terms in her matches, she will have no such luck today against Ekaterina Alexandrova.

I cannot wait to see how this match unfolds, as it is the first meeting between the two players. Whilst she was able to get the job done in set 3, the significant lapse from Svitolina in the second set against Renata Zarazua, who served her with a bagel to force a third set.

Svitolina was able to progress 6-3 0-6 6-2 and did a great job in saving 9/14 break points she faced for the match. With 16 winners and 31 unforced errors, on top of her 12 winners and 33 unforced errors in round 1, I just do not have enough confidence in her to justify her price being so short today against Alexandrova.

I backed Alexandrova -4.5 games against Astra Sharma in the previous round, and I was incredibly impressed in her ability to produce a consistent performance from start to finish, winning 6-3 6-3 in 61 minutes. She did not face a break point for the match and looked far more comfortable in the conditions in comparison with her first round.

She is one of the few players who has the near majority of points on her racquet given her power and aggressive nature, so if you are following this one, I would suggest strapping in as it may be a slightly bumpy ride in Paris.

In this style of match-up, I am more than happy to get involved with Alexandrova at a longer price. Whilst her second serve can let her down at times, and the gulf between her best and worst tennis can be quite significant at times, there is value in this price given the form of both players.

BACK — 1.5 units Alexandrova to win (recorded at $3.50)

Podoroska vs Schmiedlova

Whilst I was on Schmiedlova at long odds to defeat Victoria Azarenka in the previous round, I think there has been a significant overreaction to that victory in my opinion. Meanwhile, her opponent today has continued to fly under the radar.

Whilst Schmiedlova was fantastic in her 6-2 6-2 victory over Azarenka, not losing her serve on her way to victory. It was an uncharacteristic performance from Azarenka, who hit 38 unforced errors across the two sets. Whilst I am keen to get involved in Schmiedlova at larger prices as the price is worth it with the inconsistencies that can come with her game, I cannot get involved in her price today below $2.

Nadia Podoroska had one of the wins of the tournament in round 2, knocking off Yulia Putintseva 6-3 1-6 6-2 in just over 2 hours. Her win could have been even more dominant were it not for some poor break point conversion at times as well. Podoroska has put together a seriously impressive body of work over the last month, having gone on a 15-1 run on the clay. Her confidence is sky high, and her craft and all-round skill on the clay here will be a major advantage for her against Schmiedlova today.

At the prices on offer, I would rather side with Podoroska at the prices on offer. It will take a great performance from Schmiedlova to continue her run, and I think this match-up is nowhere near as suited to her today.

BACK — 2 units Podoroska to win (to be recorded at $1.93)

Ostapenko vs Pliskova

Even with the dominant win from Jelena Ostapenko in round 1, there appears to be some value in the Latvian here to upset one of the top seeds to kick off day 5 from Roland Garros.

Whilst I did expect Ostapenko to defeat Madison Brengle in round 1, it was the way in which she was able to achieve the victory that caught my eye. We know that Ostapenko is a significant confidence player, and nothing would bring confidence like generating 46 winners on this surface. As a result, 63% of the points Ostapenko won for the match ended up being clean winners.

Whilst Brengle is certainly the polar opposite of Karolina Pliskova, the confidence gained from that sort of win will be telling for round 2.

Pliskova received quite a fright in round 1, having to come from a set down to defeat Mayar Sherif 6-7(9) 6-2 6-4. It was the first time we have seen Pliskova on court since her retirement to Halep in Rome, and she looked a little on the rusty side overall. Her 45 winners were matches with 46 errors, and her inability to close out the first set, despite having eight opportunities, was a little uncharacteristic from the Czech.

This is not the worst match-up for Ostapenko, who has won two of their past three meetings. Whilst she lost the clay meeting 4-6 in the third set, the conditions were a lot faster and more conducive to Pliskova performing well. I like Ostapenko at the underdog price.

Whilst she is erratic, my preference is to take her at underdog prices, especially when you consider her ability to exploit Pliskova’s movement on clay in these conditions. Happy to take the Latvian to win for 2 units.

BACK — 2 units Ostapenko to defeat Pliskova (to be recorded at $2.40)

Shapovalov vs Carballes Baena

This is going to be the second biggest test on clay for Denis Shapovalov since the tour returned.

His biggest challenge? Well that was his match against Diego Schwartzman, which resulted in the Argentine winning what turned out to be a marathon in Rome. Today, he faces the player that had arguably the most dominant win from the first round in Roberto Carballes Baena.

After leading by two sets to love and a break, things got a little tricky for Shapovalov against Gilles Simon. The Canadian dropped the set, before responding with a strong fourth set to claim victory 6-2 7-5 5-7 6-3 in 3hrs29min. 55 winners and 65 unforced errors were the final tallies for Shapovalov, winning only 59% of points on his first serve and 48% of points behind his second serve.

They are not dominant stats; however, his break point conversion rate of 11/24 was very solid against Gilles Simon in the circumstances.

There were some question marks over the fitness of RCB coming into the tournament, as we had not seen him since he retired hurt to Corentin Moutet in Rome. Any concerns were blown out of the water in round 1, with a 6-1 6-0 6-0 victory over Steve Johnson in 83 minutes. The Spaniard’s ability to grind, extend rallies, and force errors was exemplary in round 1, and given that style of play is something that Shapovalov has struggled with at times on clay, taking him today at $5+ to cause upset looks to be exceptional value.

I am on the upset here, given the consistency and effort we saw from both players in round 1. I am comfortable taking the Spaniard here at the price because I know that he will not hand the victory to Shapovalov, the Canadian will have to earn it. If Shapovalov produces a high winner rate then fair play to him, however, I am happy to take him on at the price.

BACK — 2 units Carballes Baena to win (recorded at $5.20)

Tig vs McHale

I have been incredibly impressed with the form of Patricia Maria Tig on clay since the tour restarted, and this looks to be a great spot to jump on board against American Christina McHale.

On paper it looks like McHale put together a very impressive win in round 1 against Karolina Muchova, however I get the feeling that the Czech may still not have been at 100% after sustaining an injury at the US Open against Victoria Azarenka.

Muchova struggled on both her first and second serves, and McHale was able to get the job done with a stat line that included 13 winners and 15 unforced errors. McHale’s form on clay leading into Roland Garros was also a cause for concern in my opinion, as it included some poor performances against Diyas and Kawa in particular.

Tig overcame what was a bit of a tricky round 1 match-up in Stefanie Voegele, ultimately winning 7-5 7-5. Voegele has a little more power in her game than McHale, so whilst I am happy she was able to progress, I see more comfort and control in the match-up for Tig against the American this evening.

The game handicap is currently sitting at -3.5 games, and I am comfortable to side with Tig in this one for 1.5 units.

BACK — 1.5 units Tig -3.5 games (to be recorded at $1.88)

Collins vs Tauson

Whilst I can completely appreciate that Clara Tauson is going to be a star on the women’s tour for at least the next decade, there appears to have been a significant overreaction to her round 1 win over

If Danielle Collins has shown us anything over the last couple of years it is the fact that regardless of her overall form, you need to be wary of her at grand slam level.

Her intensity and…let us call it…court presence, is something to behold, and is the type of player that will look to impose herself on the teenager from the outset in this one.

Whilst it looked as though Collins was on the way to a quick exit in round 1, she rallied incredibly well from a set and break down to defeat Monica Niculescu 2-6 6-2 6-1 off the back of 53 winners. She looked to become more comfortable as the match progressed, which is impressive against a player as crafty as Niculescu, who had a lot of heavy support in betting.

There will not be many occasions in the past that Tauson will be able to call on in terms of the dominant presence coming from the other end of the court. The Tauson form is solid, however the significant experience edge for Collins here cannot be underestimated.

I am happy to take the underdog price for the American here for 1.5 units.

BACK —1.5 units Collins to win (to be recorded at $2.44)

Hsieh v Swiatek

I was incredibly impressed with the efforts of Iga Swiatek in round 1, and I see no reason to jump off in round 2.

Swiatek was completely and utterly dominant to kick off the tournament, making quick work of last year’s finalist Marketa Vondrousova 6-1 6-2 in 65 minutes. She did it off the back of 23 winners and 19 unforced errors, however, most impressively was able to win 55% of points when returning the first serve of the Czech.

She continues to play with more patience and margin than I have seen in the past, and that is something that continues to be a theme on the pathway to success on these courts in Paris for the fortnight.

Patience and margin are also incredibly crucial against her opponent today in Su-Wei Hsieh. One of the smartest and craftiest players on tour, Hsieh was able to get the better of Barbara Haas as a slight underdog in round 1, winning 6-3 7-6. Much of the match rested on the racquet of the Austrian, and she simply couldn’t convert, ending the match with 39 unforced errors.

Whilst the statistic is referred to as an unforced error, the pressure Hsieh can build against opponents lacking confidence can be stifling, and Haas felt that today.

Personally, I do not see Swiatek being as fazed by the match-up today, given her tactics shown in these conditions recently. A player who has some similarities to Swiatek is Elise Mertens, who has shown some great success against Hsieh in the past, as recently as Rome the other week. This looks to be the worst possible style of match-up for Hsieh, and one that I am happy to attack today.

BACK — 1.5 units Swiatek -5.5 games (recorded at $1.96)

Sharma v Alexandrova

I think the fantastic run of Astra Sharma will come to an end today, as she faces Ekaterina Alexandrova in the second round at Roland Garros.

You make your own luck in this game; however, Sharma has been a little lucky on a couple of occasions on her way through to the second round. She was able to snare one of the lucky loser positions, having lost in the final round of qualifying, and was able to dig her way out of a 3-5 deficit in the final set against Anna Blinkova in round 1.

If you have seen any of my writing over the last couple of weeks, you will be aware that I haven’t been particularly keen on the form of Blinkova since the tour restart, as I have thought a couple of her recent results have flattered her a touch.

Alexandrova will be looking to double her tally of Australians defeated at Roland Garros, having defeating Maddison Inglis 6-3 6-3 in 83 minutes in round 1. The Russian won 56% of points on return of the first serve, and 57% of points on second serve, and hit 27 winners on her way to victory.

I generally prefer Alexandrova to face medium the harder hitters of the ball, as she does use pace a lot better at times than generating her own consistently, so this win serves as a good measuring stick in my opinion.

If we were playing of faster clay, perhaps at a higher altitude, this match would probably lean towards being a “no play” as those conditions are far more suited to Sharma. I am struggling to see a way through this match-up for Sharma in the conditions, save for a Alexandrova no-show.

I am happy to take the Russian at the -4.5-game handicap for 1.5 units given the price at this handicap.

BACK — 1.5 units Alexandrova -4.5 games (recorded at $1.94)

Sock v Thiem

Perhaps I was the only person to be a little unimpressed with the round 1 win of Dominic Thiem? Here I am sitting down and writing my preview, looking at the current price of Jack Sock to win this match sitting at odds over $20. Maybe I am alone on this one.

Having sat through the Cilic vs Thiem round 1 match from start to finish, I did not get the feeling that Thiem was comfortable in the conditions at all. If anything, Cilic looked to be far more attacking here on the clay than what we saw during their meeting at Flushing Meadows a couple of weeks ago. The scoreline ended up flattering Thiem, with Cilic producing some very poor decision making in several key moments, costing him a chance of forcing at least a fourth set in this match.

Cilic managed to pull off a wonder drop volley early in the first set and must have decided that was something he could pull off time and time again. That did not end too well for the Croatian. For Thiem, the match ended with 17 winners and 21 unforced errors, compared to Cilic’s 24 and 43. Overall, you could tell that Thiem wasn’t entirely happy with his game, looking visibly frustrated with parts of his game whilst up 2 sets to 0 and a break.

I have been thoroughly impressed with Jack Sock through his four wins on the clay over the last week, and he was incredibly emphatic in his straight-set win over Reilly Opelka in round 1 to progress to face Thiem. There were not many things to fault Sock on over the course of the three sets. He was broken on one occasion, whilst already up a break in the third, and responded by instantly putting pressure back onto Opelka.

Whilst his backhand can be a little hit and miss, he also has the potential to come into the net as a change of tactic, however that was not needed as he trusted his game from the baseline against Opelka. He has dropped serve only 4 times through 4 matches, and this looks to be the most confident I have seen him since his return to the tour.

I did not see enough from Thiem in round one to have him sub-$1.05 in this one, and I am more inclined to make a 1-unit selection on Sock at the long odds. His confidence is high, and he should be high double figures at most in these conditions.

BACK — 1 unit Sock to defeat Thiem (to be recorded at $17, however $20+ is currently available)

Svitolina v Zarazua

This is going to be a strange thing to say considering she won a tournament last week; however, I am not overly keen on the recent form of Elina Svitolina. She did not convince me in round 1, and I am not sure I can justify her giving up 5.5 games to Renata Zarazua on form.

The Mexican has enjoyed a career-best year and is already on the front of newspapers at home given her four wins over the last week. After a slow start against Danilovic in the first round of qualifying, she has now won 8 sets in a row and looks to be riding incredibly high on confidence. She is hitting her first serve at a high rate, and returning the ball incredibly well, which should hold her in good stead in both serve and return games against Svitolina.

Svitolina’s last three wins have come against bigger strikers of the ball, so this is going to be a different look for her. She won only 38% of points behind her second serve against Gracheva and ended the match with 12 winners and 33 unforced errors. For mine, it just is not enough to justify the 5.5 game handicap today.

Whilst Svitolina does have the experience edge, I am still inclined to make a small play on the Mexican today. Her form is solid, she is high on confidence and she should give a terrific account of herself today. Whilst I will have 1 unit on the game handicap, I also think the match line north of $5 is worth I also like the total going over the 19 to 19.5 listed.

BACK — 1 unit Zarazua +5.5 games (recorded at $2)

BACK — 0.5 units Zarazua to win (recorded at $5.10)

Kostyuk vs Hibino

For those who read my preview at the start of the tournament, you will have noticed I was incredibly keen on the chances of qualifier Marta Kostyuk, who looked exceptional at times in the three rounds leading into the tournament. Today she faces Nao Hibino, who put together some of the best tennis of her career on clay to reach the semi-final in Strasbourg last week.

I was really happy to see Kostyuk drawn into a section of the draw that is really attackable given her form. Whilst she did drop sets in two of the three matches, her six winning sets were 6-1 6-0 6-2 6-2 6-0 6-2.

She is high on confidence coming off her efforts at the US Open, where she was one of only a couple of players to genuinely push Naomi Osaka to the limit. She had a minor setback after the tournament rolling her ankle at practice, however, has looked fantastic through the qualifying phase of the tournament. She is projecting confidence in her press conferences, and it is showing on the court.

As someone who doesn’t allow wins in the week before a grand slam to carry a lot of weight, I am not reading too much into the efforts of Hibino in Strasbourg. Neither Stephens nor Diyas has shown a great deal of form on clay recently and trying to gauge form around Ostapenko victories is an absolute disaster waiting to happen.

Once you consider the fact Kostyuk has the advantage having played three games on these courts with these tennis, and the heavier conditions in play here favouring her, I am more than happy to attack the price on Kostyuk at the game handicap at plus money.

BACK — 1.5 units Kostyuk -5.5 games vs Hibino (recorded at $2.15)

Badosa vs Kozlova

Another player who I anticipate will find the conditions to be very tough going for Kateryna Kozlova, who I don’t see as being particularly suited to the conditions in Paris.

After watching the first couple of days and listening to the press conferences of a number of the top players, there is a particular style of player that is not going to thrive here.

Kiki Bertens and Simona Halep both said they started their matches with the intention and effort to try and hit harder and produce winners to progress. Once they realized this was not easily achieved in the conditions, they both started to play with more margin for error, and their performances improved out of site.

Whilst Badosa Gibert does have the ability to play with more margin and handle the conditions here quite well, I just haven’t seen that from Kozlova in her recent clay form. It is a little too one-dimensional for the conditions, and when they are as heavy as what we are witnessing in Paris at the moment, I don’t see a way through for the Ukrainian.

I was impressed with the form of Badosa in Istanbul and given we haven’t seen Kozlova since the US Open; I am happy to take the Spaniard here at the -3.5 game handicap.

BACK — 1.5 units Badosa -3.5 games vs Kozlova (recorded at $1.95)

Siegemund vs Mladenovic

Whilst some of the value in this price has gone, I do think there is a little bit of value in Siegemund here at the game handicap.

I remarked in the outright market preview that these conditions are certainly suited to Siegemund, who thrives in the heavy conditions with her variety and mix of stroke play, including her impressive dropshot ability.

Whilst she hasn’t played since the US Open, neither has Mladenovic, however she did put a solid body of work together on the clay both prior to the US Open and in the exhibition period. I have no issues with her handling the conditions, and the fact this is on centre court potentially under the roof doesn’t concern me either in this one.

Kristina Mladenovic did also play a couple of exhibition matches on the clay; however, it did end in a retirement. She struggled in Palermo against Ekaterina Alexandrova, winning one game across sets 2 and 3. The last time we saw her on-court she was up 6-1 5-1 and match points on her way to losing in three sets to Gracheva at the US Open, and I just worry about her ability to consistently hold serve in the conditions with such a solid neutralizer of serves at the other end of the court.

Some will look to Mladenovic winning this match-up in 2019 in Madrid, however, the altitude and warmer conditions would favour her a lot for than what we are seeing in Paris. Patience and variety are the order of the day today, and Siegemund has it in spades. On recent form, I cannot have Mladenovic at the 2.5 game handicap. I still have question marks over her serve, which also doesn’t help her cause in this one.

BACK — 1.5 units Siegemund -2.5 games (recorded at $1.86)

Balazs vs Uchiyama

This one could get a little ugly.

The recent clay form for Yasutaka Uchiyama makes for some very concerning reading, and that is before you consider the conditions here being incredibly unfavourable for the 28-year-old from Japan.

Were this anything other than a grand slam, I wonder if we would have seen Uchiyama in action in this one. After a 5-setter at the US Open against Carreno-Busta, Uchiyama retired down 6-7 0-4 to James Duckworth in Rome qualifying.

The form around Duckworth doesn’t stack up overly well though, with Duckworth losing convincingly in the first round here yesterday to Tommy Paul. There are so many question marks around his fitness, his ability to handle the conditions, and his overall form on clay for his career. Too many to ignore.

To make things even more difficult for Uchiyama, he comes up against a proficient claycourters in Attila Balazs, who has generated the majority of his ranking points over his career on clay. He made an ATP final on clay in Umag last year, losing to Dusan Lajovic in the final.

He even looked to improve his form on hard courts to start 2020, winning the Bangkok Challenger tournament in January. He backed it up with a Rio semi finals appearance at ATP level in February and looks to enjoy these kinds of conditions. He did struggle a little at Kitzbuhel against Huesler playing at home, however, conditions today look more suited to the Hungarian.

I am comfortable taking Balazs here at the -5.5-game handicap, however, I also like him at the -1.5-game set handicap if that is available to you. He should be too strong in the conditions for Uchiyama, and progress to the next round.

BACK — 1.5 units Balazs -5.5 games vs Uchiyama (recorded at $1.90)

Swiatek vs Vondrousova

Staking remains low today in Paris, with conditions still taking some adjusting for a number of players. Higher unit selections are likely to come as the tournament progresses.

This play will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone who read my outright preview or tuned in to my preview before the start of play on Day 1.

Cases can be made for both players in the outright markets that are on offer for Roland Garros, however it is incredibly unfortunate these two meet in the first round of the tournament. Marketa Vondrousova commands a lot of respect, as she did reach the final here last year. Fast forward 16 months and we now have incredibly different conditions in play this time around.

Iga Swiatek looks to have been severely underrated in this one and is the player I feel that is most suited to the conditions in Paris today. The conditions remind me a little of the Lugano tournament in 2019, where Swiatek put together a very impressive week of tennis, reaching the final. Swiatek was knocked out in the third round at the US Open, however I was impressed with her ability to stick to the task in her loss to Victoria Azarenka. She belongs at the top level on the biggest stage.

I am not reading too much into their exhibition match on clay in July, which Swiatek win 7-6 6-0. Vondrousova did look a little better in Rome than we have seen from her recently, and her efforts involved a couple of incredibly clutch serving performances down break point against Rus and Svitolina in particular.

Her confidence in her overall game builds off her ability to handle such situations, as we saw her runaway with the victory in both instances quite comfortably. It puts her in a precarious situation though, as a player like Swiatek is more likely to convert those break point situations. Swiatek has a little more variety in her game, and I think that variety is going to be the difference today.

If you have seen me discussion Vondrousova during some of the preview shows I have lamented Vondrousova’s inability to close out matches from dominant positions at times, ultimately making life harder for herself than it needs to be. She cannot afford to do that against Swiatek and to me looks to be under the odds.

BACK — 1.5 units Swiatek to win (to be recorded at $2.50)

Carreno-Busta vs Millman

These conditions do not exactly suit either player, however based on the tennis I saw from Pablo Carreno Busta in Rome, and on heavier clay courts in the past, his price today is too short for my liking.

This is going to be an absolute slugfest, and the fitness edge here must lie with the Australian. Whilst it may not be the favourite surface of Millman, I think his persistence and ability to dig in and limit unforced errors will be enough to cover such a handicap.

Often on clay, Carreno-Busta can be a little overrated given many look to the Spanish flag as an automatic ‘best on clay’, which I do not quite think is the case with Carreno-Busta. He has made it out of the second round three times throughout his career, which is a little low considering his form over the last decade.

Millman more than held his own in a 4-6 6-7 loss to Diego Schwartzman in Rome, which now stacks up as some very decent form. Whilst a win from Millman may be a little too much to ask, taking the Australian with a +5.5 game handicap here at plus money on what he has shown in Rome, and on clay in the past, looks to be worth a 1.5 unit selection.

BACK — 1.5 units Millman +5.5 games (to be recorded at $2.05)

Medvedev vs Fucsovics

Here I have a bit of a dilemma, and most of it comes down to where I feel the clay game of Daniil Medvedev stacks up against the rest. I was keen to oppose Medvedev in a couple of spots on clay in 2019, and he produced a run out of nowhere that does not correlate with anything seen by him on clay before, or even since.

In my mind, Marton Fucsovics is too good on clay to not be competitive in this match. Unless there is an injury or some other unforeseen issue, this total of 35.5 games looks to be on the low side. Fucsovics won the Geneva title on clay in 2018 and took Diego Schwartzman to five sets in their first-round meeting at Roland Garros in 2019.

He has shown himself to be comfortable on the clay, and I personally feel the damp, heavier conditions on offer in Paris favour Fucsovics more than Medvedev, regardless of what the Russian may suggest in his press conference.

I don’t know whether it was a letdown coming off the US Open, or a more accurate depiction of his form on clay overall for his career, however Medvedev struggled in a straight set loss to Ugo Humbert in Hamburg last week. The slower conditions take away his first serve as a weapon, and for mine he is not assertive enough off wings to justify being such a heavy favourite against Fucsovics.

Whilst he may have started to get the hang of how to move on clay in 2019, it will be a different story in the heavier conditions today. Look for the experience of Fucsovics to allow the Hungarian to at least take a set, if not a lot more, in this one. As I would not expect Medvedev to be blown out in such a situation, the best selection looks to be taking the total going over 35.5 games for 1.5 units.

BACK — 1.5 units total games over 35.5 (to be recorded at $1.94)

Pera vs Bellis

I will keep this one quite short, as I think I have finally learnt my lesson when it comes to backing Bernarda Pera in 2020. Hopefully, for my sake, it is not a little too late.

Whilst I think Pera wins this match comfortably, making the game handicap and the head to head price solid value in my opinion, it has become evident since the tour restart that Pera is starting matches far betting than she is finishing. Let us look at her matches since the restart:

  • Led a set and had triple break point late in set 2, then lost to Serena Williams
  • Won first set, then won in 3 against Heather Watson
  • Lost a tight first set tiebreak, and lost in 3 sets to Dayana Yastremska
  • Defeated Zarina Diyas in straight sets.
  • Won first set, and lost in 3 sets to Maria Sakkari
  • Led a set and *2-1, before losing in three sets to Svetlana Kuznetsova
  • Led a set, before losing in three sets to Katerina Siniakova.

The starts have not been the worry, however as things have tightened up later in matches, she has become vulnerable. Personally, I find these conditions to suit Pera far more than they do Bellis, who we have not seen since the US Open.

Taking the above into account, the value selection for mine is taking the extra couple of cents on offer for Pera to win the first set for 2 units.

BACK — 2 units Pera first set winner (to be recorded at $1.69)

Dan Evans vs Kei Nishikori

Over the last couple of weeks, I have gained some doubts over the fitness of Kei Nishikori in the best of 3 set arena, and with good reason in my opinion. Now we switch to the longer format, and we have Nishikori as a large favourite against a Top 50 opponent in Dan Evans.

Granted, clay is not Evans’ favourite surface, however he has shown some signs of improvement over the last 18 months. His losses have come to very competent claycourters in Davidovich Fokina, Ruud, Verdasco, Hurkacz and Tsitsipas, and he only lost to Tsitsipas in straight sets in the week before a slam. Whilst his movement on the surface is not elite, he is able to use his slice to neutralise and work his way back into rallies from a defensive position.

This long comeback journey from Nishikori has been the result of elbow surgery that ended his 2019 campaign and halted his start to 2020. These are arguably the worst conditions for Nishikori to face, with all reports suggesting the weather combined with new tennis balls for the 2020 edition will make for some incredibly heavy conditions. Given this, I just have not seen enough top-level tennis from Nishikori in the lead-up to be able to justify him at the price today.

Nishikori faded dramatically in his three set matches against Kecmanovic a couple of weeks ago, then backed it up with a win over the out-of-form Albert Ramos. He then looked to be going through the motions at times against Musetti and failed to fire a shot against Garin last week.

Considering there have been questions around his fitness in the shorter form of the game, I cannot justify the -4.5 game handicap on the table for Nishikori today over best of 5 sets. I am happy to play Evans +4.5 games here for a 1.5 unit staking, and I was not far off a small head to head play as well.

BACK — 1.5 units Evans +4.5 games vs Nishikori (recorded at $1.83)

 Federico Coria vs Jason Jung

Having never previously met at any level of the tour, Federico Coria and Jason Jung now meet in back to back grand slams.

Jung had to learn the hard way just how difficult best of 5 set tennis is when leading Coria 2 sets to 0 and a break at the US Open before cramping started to set in. It was one way traffic for Coria from that point, with Jung ultimately retiring when trailing in the fifth set. Whilst the weather conditions in Paris should lend to no cramping from Jung, every other aspect of the conditions lends itself to his opponent today.

Jung makes his way into the main draw as a lucky loser, having beaten Watanuki and Robredo before losing to Aleks Vukic in the final round. There is nothing in his recent form, or past form on clay for that matter, that suggests he can hang with Coria here over best of 5 sets in these conditions.

When you cast an eye over the clay form over Coria this year, it is far and away more impressive, and in conditions like those seen here in Paris. He has wins over the likes over Alcaraz, Moutet, Kovalik, Taberner, Dzumhur and Struff, and he has taken a set off Garin and pushed Berrettini early in their meeting in Rome. His game continues to evolve since his return from suspension, and he looks to be incredibly well placed here.

I do not see the conditions doing any favours for Jung today, in what should be one way traffic for Coria to progress to the next round. I am happy to take the -5.5 game handicap for 2 units.

BACK — 2 units Coria -5.5 games vs Jung (recorded at $1.80)

Victoria Azarenka vs Danka Kovinic

Given the form of both players over the last couple of weeks, this has suddenly become a tricky match-up. It leads me to the question: does Victoria Azarenka really deserve to be sub-$1.15 in these conditions?

Both of these players find their way into the Roland Garros main draw on the back of decent form, accounting for some of the more lopsided results we have seen in recent time (Azarenka 6-0 6-0 over Kenin and Kovinic 6-1 6-0 over Goerges). The form of Azarenka in New York, combined with the dominant win over Kenin, still leaves me with enough questions marks around her price to be comfortable in opposing that price today given the form of Kovinic.

Breaking down Azarenka in Rome:

  • Venus Williams served for the first set and was in the match up to her eyeballs for about 90% of the duration.
  • Defeated a clearly dispirited Kenin 6-0 6-0.
  • Kasatkina served for the first set twice, before severely rolling her ankle and retiring during the first set tiebreak.
  • Lost her serve 6 times in a row at one point, losing 4-6 in the third set to Garbine Muguruza whilst struggling physically.

Whilst Kovinic does not exactly play the highest percentage tennis you will ever see; I do not mind that when her odds for this match are above $7.50. Over the last couple of weeks, she has wins over Bondarenko, Van Uytvanck, Eikeri, Kawa, Goerges and Bencic, and was incredibly competitive in her losses to Elise Mertens and Eugenie Bouchard. Azarenka will have her chances and opportunities to break, however so will Kovinic. She isn’t afraid to attack on the return of serve and given Azarenka’s second serve points won sat in the low to mid 30%’s against Williams, Kasatkina and Muguruza, there will be opportunities to attack.

Given her somewhat low percentage play at times, I generally like to steer clear of Kovinic as a favourite in betting. I am happy to look past it at $7.50+, as I have her as a genuine threat to knock off Azarenka on form. This early speedbump was one of the reasons I did not find the Azarenka price on the outright to be appealing. This looks to be value to the level of a 1.5 unit selection.

BACK — 1.5 units Kovinic to defeat Azarenka (recorded at $7.75)

Teichmann vs Begu

I think the conditions here are far more suited to Teichmann, lending to a bit of value in the head to head market.

In the battle for who will likely have to face Simona Halep in the second round of Roland Garros, it feels as though Teichmann has the significant edge in terms of form against higher quality opponents in the lead-up. Whilst Begu did make the semi final in Prague, when you look at the list of players she has beaten across the last month, none of them arguably come close to what Teichmann is able to produce on clay. Those wins have come over Cocciaretto, Friedsam, Errani, Sorribes Tormo, Kung and Sevastova, none of which have taken huge scalps or maintained high-quality form lines through their other matches.

Teichmann got the better of this match-up in Bol in the middle of 2019, however a lot of water has gone under the bridge since. I think there is enough value in the -2.5 game handicap here for a 1.5 unit selection on Teichmann.

BACK — 1.5 units Teichmann -2.5 games vs Begu (to be recorded at $1.90)

Welcome to the outright preview for the men’s draw at the US Open. In a tournament that has been largely dominated by Rafael Nadal over more than a decade, we see far different conditions on offer in France this coming fortnight. The conditions will be cooler and heavier, and there has also been a ball change for the 2020 version of the tournament.

Quarter 1

Novak Djokovic – I have no desire to oppose Novak Djokovic in any capacity in the upcoming fortnight. In comparison to the other single-figure-odds players, he has been given quite the dream draw, and the heavier, less lively conditions probably work in his favour for the fortnight better than most.

He will still be hurting from what took place in New York and remains undefeated for the season in matches that have not ended with hitting a linesperson with a ball. Casting an eye through the rest of this section, the players who would be most capable of challenging Djokovic on clay would be a top level effort from Karen Khachanov, or Roberto Bautista Agut. He won well in Rome whilst admitting he was nowhere near his best. He will be hard to beat over best of 5 on clay. He clearly has the best draw of all top names.

Hubert Hurkacz – Whilst Hurkacz has shown some capable form on clay over the last couple of years at Challenger and ATP level, there is no value in Hurkacz when it comes to the outright picture. Too close to a major threat in the draw in Djokovic, and I do not see best of 5 sets favouring him at this stage of his career.

Cristian Garin – I am a little intrigued with Garin, however needing to beat Khachanov in round 3 just to meet Djokovic in round 4 is a bit of a horror draw. Personally, I am more inclined to watch Garin match to match from an odds standpoint.

Karen Khachanov – One of the big wildcards in the draw, given the significant difference between his best and his worst tennis. A tough draw awaits the Russian, making it difficult to get excited about his outright chances. Like Garin, I think I will monitor Khachanov match by match.

Roberto Bautista Agut – Struggled in Hamburg, however it is hard to gauge form in the week before a grand slam. Proven across the best of 5 set format and will be tough to beat. It was not a conventional lead-up for RBA, with the Spaniard celebrating the birth of his first child under two weeks ago. Honest performer, who I will not be actively opposing early in the tournament. One to watch if he handles the conditions well.

Pablo Carreno-Busta – Fresh off his terrific performance at the US Open, Carreno Busta was the unfortunate person who had to face Rafael Nadal off 6 months of no tennis. It did not go well, with PCB losing 1-6 1-6. Carreno Busta has had varying success over the last couple of years on clay, and his 2019 campaign ended in injury whilst down to Benoit Paire in front of a raucous crowd. I am not overly interested in the outright markets for him in this quarter.

Jan-Lennard Struff – An interesting prospect in this little pocket of the draw, as I would fancy his chances against Berrettini in a potential third round encounter. His loss from a double break up to Khachanov in Hamburg raises what is a genuine question mark around Struff’s game, and that is his ability to close out matches from dominant positions at times. For that reason, I would rather take him in individual match situations.

Matteo Berrettini – Casper Ruud showed the men’s tour how to beat the Italian in Rome, as Berrettini continued to struggle with his backhand in some key moments. There has been some brilliant glimpse from Matteo over the last 18 months on clay, however I still think he will be found out against quality players on clay, especially over the best of 5 set format. I also do not see the heavy conditions favouring him either.

Unseeded players to watch

Ugo Humbert – Put together a nice little run in Hamburg over the last week, so he will be an interesting one to watch as an unseeded player in the first week.

Quarter 2

Daniil Medvedev – The Russian made me look a little silly at times during the Roland Garros lead-up swing in 2019, after struggling on clay previously. I still feel the heavy conditions of clay do not suit Medvedev given his flat shot-making off both wings. It was a poor showing in a straight set loss to Humber in Hamburg, however I tend to not read too much into the form a week before a slam. Whilst Marton Fucsovics is a difficult first-round match-up on clay, it is a favourable week 1 draw for him compared to some of the other top seeds.

Nikolaz Basilashvili – Winning form is good form. As a result, Basilashvili has no form. Happy to look elsewhere for the outright discussion.

Dusan Lajovic – Whilst I wouldn’t have Lajovic in the outright conversations for this fortnight, he is a player that I will definitely be keeping an eye on for individual match-ups this week, especially in what looks to be a weaker quarter on paper. Lajovic is a very tactically sound, and with some impressive performances over the last 18 months on clay, is one to watch against some bigger names struggling for form.

Andrey Rublev – Rublev has looked very solid in Hamburg, however I do still have some question marks overall. Much of his best form over the last 18 months came in Hamburg in 2019, which fell between Wimbledon and the US hardcourt swing. His outright odds look about right, and I would love to see Lajovic challenge him in a potential third round meeting.

Denis Shapovalov – Denis looked pretty good in Rome last week, so I will be interested to see if he is able to continue the good form of the last month. We will know a lot more about the form of the Canadian after round 1, with a tricky meeting with the out-of-form Gilles Simon. It will be a great test of his patience, and I will look to comment more on him as the fortnight progresses.

Grigor Dimitrov – Another player who looked solid in patches in Rome, however I do not think he has the form and fitness to feature heavily in the outright market.

Filip Krajinovic – The Serbian has looked more consistent since the tour resumed, however much like Dimitrov, grand slam outrights are not in the conversation now in my opinion.

Stefanos Tsitsipas – Has Stefanos truly got over the absurd fashion in which he lost at the US Open? Tsitsipas was incredibly poor in Rome, however he has looked a little stronger in his search for form in Hamburg. His backhand returned looked to be improving recently, however he still reverts to old habits at times. Does he have the patience to dig in in heavy conditions for the fortnight on heavy clay? Time will tell; however, I do not see value in his price.

Unseeded players to watch

Whilst they are not in the outright picture, a couple of players in this section to keep an eye on are Thiago Monteiro, Laslo Djere, Aljaz Bedene and even Pablo Cuevas in the early rounds. On current odds and the draw, Monteiro may be worth a trading spot at a large price with a Lajovic in this section.

Quarter 3

Gael Monfils – One of the top players that bypassed the North American hardcourt swing, however he has not shown any form in the lead-up. He will need to significantly improve his form to take advantage of what is a favourable draw for him. Straight set losses to Koepfer and Hanfmann in the lead up is enough for me to look elsewhere.

Taylor Fritz – Showed some promising signs on clay in 2019, however like Monfils, the straight set losses to Travaglia and Cuevas in the lead-up are not filling me with confidence. The heavier conditions also do not favour the American, however he should be able to progress through to at least late in the first week, barring a significant improvement in form from Radu Albot or an upset loss to Machac in round 1.

Borna Coric – Looked sluggish backing up from the US Open in Rome, however he may be able to take advantage of one of the weaker parts of the draw. On his form and the form of players around him, he should be at least making the third round, where I would anticipate his run is likely to end at the hands of Diego Schwartzman.

Diego Schwartzman – The Argentine showed in Rome that he can match it with the best, in conditions that are quite like what we will see in Paris. Diego has all the defensive attributes to be able to handle the conditions well here and will take a lot of confidence from getting over the line against Rafael Nadal in Rome. I would not want to face him over 5 sets in his recent form and should be able to make a push to the second week. Tricky first round but should be good enough.

Stanislas Wawrinka – I really do wish that Stan did not play the Challenger swing last month, as it ultimately ended up with Stan injuring himself. Fast forward a month and Stan has parted ways with his long-time coach in Magnus Norman and comes into this match with one ATP match under his belt in Rome. It was not a great match; however, I am not inclined to directly oppose him in any capacity early in a grand slam given his previous record here. I will tune in to his first round match against Andy Murray before formulating an opinion here.

Felix Auger-Aliassime – Whilst I am a big fan of Felix, much of his best clay form has come on the South American swing on clay. His form over the last couple of weeks has not filled me with a great deal of confidence, and with him surrounded by a group of talented seeds on clay, I do not see a deep run. Whilst he should be able to make his way through the first two round relatively comfortably, the draw gets too difficult too quickly to find his price appealing, especially if Wawrinka looks solid early.

Casper Ruud – Casper has put together a solid fortnight in Rome and Hamburg, however will it be part of his undoing in Paris? He may be able to save a bit of fuel with a dominant round 1 victory over Sugita and should not have any trouble against Paul or Duckworth in round 2. Given he has adjusted back to the clay and we haven’t seen Dominic Thiem since his US Open final win, I would have him well and truly in with a chance against the Austrian in what would be an incredible round 3 match-up.

Dominic Thiem – The US Open champion is coming in off a couple of weeks off from competitive tennis, which feels like the longest break he has taken all year (including the COVID break). Every year I have come to Roland Garros and felt Thiem has been the best chance to knock off Rafael Nadal, however it is hard to look at his price here and perceive it as value.

Thiem has become the hunted for the first time and will likely need to run through Ruud/Wawrinka/Schwartzman/Nadal/Djokovic as a worst case scenario to claim the title. Off a heavy schedule pre-US Open, claiming the US Open, and the heavy conditions in Paris, I cannot have him at his current quote.

Quarter 4

Alexander Zverev – The David Ferrer effect may be in play here, with the duo continuing their player-coach combination into the clay season. There must be question marks over the psychological impact leading two sets to love in a grand slam final, and serving for the match in the fifth, has on Zverev.

He is underrated on clay; however, I would have LOVED to see him in the second or third quarters. Instead, he is likely to meet Rafael Nadal in a quarter final, then need to find his way through two others. A tough ask.

Alex De Minaur – Heavy clay is not the strongest surface for De Minaur, and he has a tough first up match with former semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato. I do not see him in the outright picture here

Benoit Paire – No thank you.

David Goffin – Starts with one of the toughest unseeded opponents in Jannik Sinner. Starting round 1 as an underdog does not lead me to having him in the outright picture for this slam.

Fabio Fognini – A player who I would have as more suited to the heavier conditions in Paris, however the lack of match fitness coming off double ankle surgery is a genuine concern. I will be keeping an eye on his first round match, as if he can find a way to round into some form here, he does have all the tools and game to challenge a number of the top players. He has beaten Nadal at the top of his game, and in more favourable conditions may present as a value spot if they were to meet.

John Isner – Taking John Isner on cold, heavy clay in Paris? I cannot see him making a run on recent form. If he could not do it on hardcourt, I do not see him thriving in these conditions.

Dan Evans – Another seed starting as an underdog in round 1, with the returning Kei Nishikori coming in unseeded. I like his chances in that one, however he is a little too close to Rafael Nadal to have him in outright consideration.

Rafael Nadal – Saving the best of all time on clay until last. This fortnight will be unlike any other in France, with cooler conditions and a newer, less lively tennis ball chosen for the tournament. Nadal has stated the conditions on offer in the upcoming fortnight are more of a hindrance than help, and as fantastic as his wins over PCB and Lajovic were last week, it has been a while since we have seen a 2-6 5-7 style of loss for Nadal as we saw against Schwartzman.

I do not see any issues for him in the first three rounds, however at his current outright odds, given his projected pathway leads him through both Thiem and Djokovic, I think he is a little too short in the outright market.

Unseeded players to watch

Jannik Sinner – I have mentioned Sinner in a couple of the recent outright previews. It is still very early in his career, and at this stage I do not feel as though he is suited to the best-of-5 style yet, as we saw at the US Open when cramps kicked in against Khachanov.

Kei Nishikori – Nishikori looks to have been going through the motions in the lead-up to the French Open. I do not trust his body at the best of times, so it is incredibly hard to trust it at present.


To start the tournament there is only one player that I want to be on from an outright perspective, and that is Novak Djokovic.

The draw for Novak has been incredibly kind, with both Thiem and Nadal in the other half. It is almost generous to the point there is not a lot of value in any player in the second quarter, as I do not see them being more suited to conditions than Novak in a semi-final.

You could make a case in the second quarter for a trading selection on Dusan Lajovic, who can play smart tennis that targets the weaknesses of his opponents. For a long, long shot, Thiago Monteiro could snatch the seeded draw of Basilashvili with a round 1 win. Whilst neither are likely to go deep in the outrights, they are two players to watch in week 1.

From a trading perspective in the third quarter, I would be siding with Diego Schwartzman and Casper Ruud at their respective prices, as I feel Dominic Thiem is a little short here. I will be watching the quarter very closely early in week one.

If you are looking to get Rafael Nadal beaten in this fourth quarter, I would look to specific match-ups against either Alexander Zverev, or if he reaches Nadal, Fabio Fognini. I am not holding my breath on those two getting to Nadal though, so I would rather look at their prices if that match-up eventuates.

For mine though, the outright value lies with Djokovic in these conditions.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Novak Djokovic to win the French Open

Trading Selections

BACK to LAY – Diego Schwartzman and Casper Ruud (weighted more towards Schwartzman)

BACK to LAY – Thiago Monteiro and Dusan Lajovic (very very low stake in Quarter 2)

Welcome to the outright draw preview for the women’s draw of the French Open. It is a fascinating draw, and one that looks to be incredibly competitive in parts.

The conditions will be heavy and cold in the early stages of the tournament, and with rain forecast, the new roof may play a role in some of the key matches late in the tournament. We have a new brand of tennis ball on offer as well, so we should see tennis that looks a little different from previous years in my opinion.

Quarter 1

Simona Halep – The commanding favourite, and deservedly so in my opinion. Halep made the decision to bypass the North American hardcourt swing, which included the US Open, and her form on the clay has certainly justified that decision. No player comes into this tournament with better clay form since the tour resumed, claiming titles in Prague and Rome.

There have been some decent opponents in that run, with wins over Muguruza, Putintseva, Yastremska and Mertens. One to watch here with the slightly slower, heavier conditions in Paris. Her key weakness? A power player absolutely redlining her off the court, as we saw here last year. She avoids those types of players early, and I do not see any significant issues for her in the early rounds, unless Teichmann can produce a scintillating performance.

Her conqueror last year in Amanda Anisimova is the first seed she is likely to face, however the conditions suit Halep a lot more this year. Is she perhaps a little short in the odds, given late round matches have the potential to be played indoor as well?

Amanda Anisimova – A semi-finalist from last year, it is hard to make a case for the 19 year old on recent form and her draw. She will need to be at her best from the outset, with her first round match-up in Tamara Korpatsch putting together some solid results on clay over the last couple of months. She would need to significantly improve her level since the restart to feature here in less suited conditions.

Dayana Yastremska – I still have some big question marks surrounding the composure of Yastremska in key moments and big matches. Whilst I do believe she has the talent and ability to be challenging for grand slams in her future, I do not see her having the composure to make her way through this draw in the conditions. We will know more about her after her round 1 match with the returning Daria Gavrilova, so watch this space.

Marketa Vondrousova – a finalist here last year, the Czech struggled to take any momentum from that run into the rest of the season. She did have some injury concerns post Wimbledon last year, however she has not been able to put together a solid body of work to have me considering her as value in the 30-1 odds range, especially in Halep’s quarter. She has ended up with one of the toughest first round matches with Iga Swiatek, so I cannot have her in the outright markets at her current price.

Johanna Konta – The semi-final run here last year stands out as a big anomaly in terms of overall clay form, and I do not see the much heavier conditions forecast for this fortnight helping her in any capacity. She has a tough run here, and I think there are too many potential roadblocks in this section alone to consider her in the outright market.

Maria Sakkari – Sakkari is a tough player to get a read on overall, as her game is more suited to clay than her recent results may suggest. It is going to take a solid performance to overcome her in these conditions in Paris, and I would have her getting the better of Konta if the two were to meet in the third round. She cops a tricky round 1 meeting with Tomljanovic, who has had some terrible luck in terms of draws since the tour resumed. Unlikely to see her making her way out of the quarter from an outright standpoint.

Svetlana Kuznetsova – Rarely do we see value on Kuznetsova at this stage of her career given her surname and past reputation combined with the slight regression in her game over the last couple of years. Her draw is not the worst, especially if Bertens is not at 100%. Whilst I do not see her making a deep run, I will not be directly opposing her in the early rounds at this stage.

Kiki Bertens – Another player who bypassed the North American swing. Initially I felt this would be great for her to enter Roland Garros at close to full fitness, until she had to pull out whilst trailing to Jelena Ostapenko in Strasbourg. I need to see her on court before casting an opinion here, however at my first glance there are too many players in this quarter that will trouble her stylistically that I do not see value in her outright price.

Unseeded players to watch:

Iga Swiatek – I am so disappointed that Swiatek has drawn Vondrousova in the first round, however it does present the opportunity for her to steal the draw of a seed. Swiatek showed me in Lugano last year that she can certainly handle heavy clay conditions and looks to be a great value selection. I am likely to make a play on her in round 1, and a potential alternate option would be to take her as a trading selection. A shame that she is projected to meet Halep in round 4, but certainly can turn heads this week.

Coco Gauff – I will mention her, but only to say she is under the odds, as per usual. Her second serve is too easily attacked on heavy clay, so I am happy to look elsewhere.

Jil Teichmann – I was hoping for a better draw for her; however, it has not eventuated. A tough start with Begu, then Halep. A tough second round opponent for Halep if she were to progress but cannot have her in the outright picture.

Quarter 2

Elina Svitolina – One of the seeds that is incredibly hard to place in terms of outright chances and general clay ability. She looked good in straight set wins over Pavlyuchenkova and Kuznetsova in Rome, then produced a shocker, losing 3-6 0-6 to Vondrousova.

Her draw isn’t too bad in the early rounds, however it is a player of the style of Alexandrova or Kontaveit, two examples of players she may meet in round 1, that have the ability to make Svitolina very uncomfortable on the clay when she can’t hit winners consistently. If she had shown an ability to embrace the big stage at a grand slam in the past and make a statement, then I would consider her here, but I just have not seen enough. I prefer others at the prices on offer.

Ekaterina Alexandrova – The Russian can cause an upset or two across the fortnight, however like Svitolina, I do have some question marks on her ability to maintain the level deep into a grand slam. I would love for her to prove me wrong and make a run, however we will see the best and worst of her tennis over the space of up to a fortnight of tennis, and her worst tennis puts her out of the running.

Anett Kontaveit – A familiar theme here, with another player with a lot of talent and amazing on her day, with question marks over her ability to sustain it across a grand slam. Looking at her outright odds in comparison to Elise Mertens, and I am leaning towards taking the Belgian on recent clay form, however that may change with a dominant couple of early rounds. At present, she looks to be under the odds in outright market.

Elise Mertens – I was hoping to see Mertens on the opposite side of the draw to Simona Halep, however it was not to be. The Belgian has arguably the second best form on clay since the tour restarted, and I wouldn’t read too much into the three set loss to Pliskova last week, as I think we saw her run out of legs after a heavy schedule.

After a week off, she should be primed for a solid showing here. She is currently the heaviest favourite in all the round 1 matches slated, so it will be interesting to see how she handles things in week 1. I like her chances against any of the other seeds she would face in the lead-up to the quarter final.

Victoria Azarenka – Azarenka arguably defeats Muguruza in Rome if her body does not fail her late in that match. She did not sit down for the last couple of change of ends, and it looked as though her efforts over the last month finally caught up with her.

Whilst she needs to be respected in the outright picture, I do not see her as value as the current third favourite, and she looks to be well under the odds in round 1 as well. I will need to see a couple of solid performances from her before considering her for the outright. Her best effort in the past was a semi-final appearance in 2013, and she holds a 1-6 record against Top 10 players at Roland Garros.

Yulia Putintseva – I do not *think* there was too much in the Putintseva lower back injury when trailing to Simona Halep last week, and there is almost enough for me to take her for the second consecutive slam as a trading selection. She reached the quarter finals here in 2018 and is a player think may be suited a little more by the heavier conditions.

She has shown over the last month (and for a couple of years really) how frustrating she can be to face, and I would put her in with a chance of beating the likes of Azarenka/Strycova/Williams in this little portion of the draw on form. I will not be opposing her early in the tournament and needs to be respected.

Barbora Strycova – I am not sure she is in the outright conversation for the singles at this stage of her career. Worth monitoring in the doubles though. Unlikely to see week two in the singles.

Serena Williams – The great unknown. Serena has only played 5 tournaments on clay since the start of 2016, claiming a title in Rome in 2016 and reaching the Roland Garros final a couple of weeks later. Two of her last three tournaments on clay have ended with walkovers, and she looked well off the pace a year ago against Sofia Kenin, losing 2-6 5-7. Her movement at Flushing Meadows did not strike me as translating particularly well to the clay in Paris, and the heavy conditions will do her no favours as well. From a pre-tournament standpoint it is a pass from me.

Unseeded players of note:

Tsvetana Pironkova: Looks a little short in the quarter an outright market given we have not seen her on clay since 2017. Conditions nowhere near as suitable as New York.

Quarter 3

Aryna Sabalenka – She is putting together a solid run in Strasbourg this week, however like a handful of others, Sabalenka just has not taken that next step at grand slam level. Her early draw is not too bad (assuming Daria Kasatkina is below 100% with her ankle injury), however her Strasbourg run has taken any value out of her outright price.

Ons Jabeur – Paris will not have the ideal conditions for Jabeur to make a run here. As I have said multiple times this year, her first serve deserting her for patches remains a concern for mine. Tough to see her make a big run here, and I would have her on upset alert in round 2 if she were to face Kostyuk.

Jennifer Brady – We have not seen Brady since her exceptional run on the hardcourts in the New York bubble. Clay has never been her preferred surface, with a 27-37 record for her career. Her form this year has improved significantly, however I am not compelled to jump in at her price of $50 on the exchange at the time of writing, especially given there are a couple of quality claycourters in this quarter let alone the rest of the draw.

Garbine Muguruza – Fascinating prospect in this draw. Whilst she appears to be grossly under the odds in her round 1 meeting with Zidansek, it will be a fantastic test of where her form currently lies. She looked to be hampered by injury in her final against Halep in Rome, however played some impressive tennis in patches across the week. In a hitting battle against some of the other big strikers in this quarter I would likely side with the Spaniard, which makes round 1 a bigger obstacle than many see now.

Elena Rybakina – She has developed a bit of a habit over the last couple of weeks when it comes to struggling to serve out matches. Failed twice serving out against Bouzkova in Rome and struggled to close out against Alize Cornet in Strasbourg. Rybakina is an immense talent and based on her draw has every chance of reaching the quarter finals or better here. The one question mark in her part of the draw is the fitness of Fiona Ferro, whom we have not seen on tour since she won in Palermo. Looks a decent prospect of a nice run here.

Karolina Muchova – Muchova is also on the injury train, as she was clearly hampered late in her loss to Victoria Azarenka at the US Open. Whilst she has looked incredibly comfortable on clay over the last couple of years with some very impressive results, she is too close to an in-form player in this section in Rybakina to consider her in the outright picture currently.

Donna Vekic – Another that I would love to prove me wrong, but I just have not seen enough from Donna since the tour resumed to be able to make a compelling case for her in the outright market.

Sofia Kenin – It is very hard to get too excited about the form of Sofia Kenin from an outright perspective, even with her spot as the 3-seed. In her only showing on the clay since the tour resumed, Kenin lost 0-6 0-6 to Victoria Azarenka. Clay has never been her preferred surface, and it will be interesting to see how she starts this campaign. Drawn near another out of form seed in Vekic, so there is the potential to build into a little form, however we would need to see a significant uptick in form to feature on the final weekend.

Unseeded Players of Note:

Fiona Ferro – The great unknown in this quarter. She won the title so well in Palermo; however, we have not seen her since due to injury. I will be watching her round 1 match incredibly closely.

Tamara Zidansek – She is as short as $34 in quarter winners’ markets, however, finds herself around $9 to win round 1. Figure that one out…

Daria Kasatkina – Finally found some form in Rome and severely rolled her ankle. I will need to see her in round 1 before forming an opinion. Likely leave, however I think she will improve her form over the coming 12 months.

Patricia Maria Tig – Needs to be respected as the Istanbul title winner a couple of weeks ago. The draw looks tough; however, she is a crafty opponent who will handle the conditions well. I will not be actively opposing early in the tournament.

Marta Kostyuk – Now she is not as limited in the number of tournaments she can play due to age restrictions; we will be seeing a lot more of Kostyuk in the next couple of years. Pushed Osaka to the brink in the US Open and looks to have recovered well from an ankle injury suffered a fortnight ago. Genuinely capable of a run in my opinion, as could defeat the likes of Jabeur in round 2 and Sabalenka in round 3 with her best tennis.

Quarter 4

Petra Kvitova – I think Kvitova will enjoy getting away from the New York humidity, however it is a little hard to gauge how her form will stack up in these conditions. The heavier conditions I would suggest will not be to her liking, however her price around 26-1 at the time of writing is intriguing. From my perspective, getting over early speedbumps may be an issue here.

I might watch on for a couple of rounds, and if she is still around at the final 16, I will take her in the outright market at the right price. She is proven at the pointy end of grand slams and will enjoy the more sheltered conditions under the roof as her matches head to centre court. Stay tuned on a play on her if she looks good in the early rounds.

Magda Linette – Not in the outright discussion, and currently coin flip odds just to get out of the first round.

Angelique Kerber – Looked to injury herself late against Li at the US Open, then lost to Brady quite convincingly. Looked incredibly average in her only clay outing against Siniakova last week. I cannot see her slugging it out for seven matches in these conditions and not find her being overrun by someone of form. I will pass.

Madison Keys – We have not seen Madison since her neck injury flared in her match against Alize Cornet at the US Open. Keys is another who has shown some solid success on clay, reaching the semi-finals here in 2018, and the quarter final in 2019. I would anticipate the heavier conditions to be a bit of a problem for Keys, with balls less likely to consistently find their way into her strike zone. It is worth noting her clay record is skewed slightly due to success in Charleston, however I am unlikely to oppose her straight away. A round 2 meeting against Cornet would be intriguing.

Petra Martic – A very intriguing prospect in this portion of the draw. Martic has the variety in her game to likely handle Riske and Stephens, as well as most unseeded player in the draw. With question marks over Pliskova’s fitness, and the dangerous floater in Jelena Ostapenko a chance to knock the Czech off, I am inclined to consider Martic as a trading selection. If this draw were a little weaker, I think I would be inclined to take her as a trading selection.

Alison Riske – Since reaching the Nurnberg semi-finals in 2018, clay has not been Riske’s friend. If she had displayed form rivalling 2019 in the last month or so you could make a case, however I cannot support here in the outright market.

Sloane Stephens – Another player who is hard to have on recent form, even with a reasonably favourable draw. Genuinely struggling to make a case for her outside of ‘former finalist’. I hope she can regain some of her past form, but it will not be with my money on her.

Karolina Pliskova – There would be an irony in Karolina Pliskova breaking her grand slam drought at Roland Garros, however I just do not see it. She has reached the semi-final here in 2017, however her Rome title chances ended in the final when she had to retire down a set and a break to Simona Halep with a left leg injury. She has said to have taken some positives from the week, which I would tend to agree, however the Paris conditions, which look to be heavier, will not make things easy for the Czech. Hard to have at the price.

Unseeded players to watch:

Jelena Ostapenko: History suggests that Ostapenko either loses round 1 or wins the whole tournament. Whilst she does not appear to be value in the outright market currently, she is a dangerous floater in week 1, and has a decent record against Karolina Pliskova…

Alize Cornet: Capable of an upset or two, however discussing her outright prospects is a little much.

Veronika Kudermetova: Another that can take a scalp or two in her section of the draw, however she is very hard to have on her recent form.

Polona Hercog: Shown to have success on heavy clay in the past, I will not be opposing her early in the tournament. It is very likely I will be using Kvitova vs Hercog, were it to eventuate, as a gauge of the form of Kvitova to assess outright viability.

Arantxa Rus: Another who on her day could genuinely take a big scalp here, however too many question marks to discuss in quarter/outright markets.

Laura Siegemund: I really wish Laura were in a little better form, as she has thrived on heavy clay in the past. She is worth respecting early in this draw in head to head match-ups.

Note: I could have written about a handful of other players in this quarter as well, so it is certainly a competitive section given the question marks around some of the seeds.


What a fascinating draw, that looks to be incredibly wide open.

The logical selection out of the first quarter here is Simona Halep. For mine, the one player with the capability of causing her a little trouble is Iga Swiatek. The big issue for Swiatek is the fact she faces Vondrousova in round 1. At the current odds I am likely to play Swiatek in some capacity, so if you want to take Swiatek as a trading selection, I would consider lowering your stake on Swiatek to beat Vondrousova.

I was hoping to see Mertens and Kontaveit either further away from each other, or on the other side of the draw to Halep. I have more value on Mertens in the outright, so I am happy to settle on her price there in the second quarter. Flipping to the bottom part of the quarter, the value from a trading standpoint is with Yulia Putintseva in my opinion, as she looks to be a big price around the likes of Azarenka and Williams.

From the third quarter, I am happy to follow the form of Elena Rybakina at her current quote. Her draw is favourable, and I am anticipating a solid run from her today. From the bottom part of the section, I would keep an eye on Marta Kostyuk who looked very good in qualifying and could cause an upset of two with her draw. If Garbine Muguruza looks good in round 1, I may need to re-assess this quarter a touch.

The final quarter is full of a lot of potential, and I think I would rather just sit the quarter out. You can make a case for 8+ players. Instead, as mentioned above, I will likely jump in to Kvitova in the outrights if she were to make it to the second week.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Simona Halep to win the French Open

BACK – Elise Mertens to win the French Open (potential trade out if meeting Halep in semi-final)

BACK – Elena Rybakina to win the French Open

Trading Selections

BACK to LAY – Yulia Putintseva (value as a quarter winner above 25-1)

BACK to LAY – Iga Swiatek (reduce h2h staking on Swiatek to beat Vondrousova in round 1 if double dipping)

BACK to LAY – Marta Kostyuk

Players to monitor

Garbine Muguruza (monitor fitness round 1 – too short currently vs Zidansek)

Petra Kvitova (review jumping in if reaches round of 16)

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