THE remaining places in the quarter-finals of the men’s singles at the French Open are up for grabs on Monday and Sean Calvert returns to preview the action from Paris.

It looks like the mini-heatwave that Paris has had in the last few days is at an end, with showers forecast for Monday and temperatures back down at around 19C for day nine of the French Open.

We start on Suzanne Lenglen Court with an intriguing affair between two M1000 champions on the clay who are yet to make their mark at slam level.

Fabio Fognini vs Alexander Zverev

On form we have to strongly fancy Fognini here, with the Italian perhaps finally ready to go deep at the clay major (only one quarter final appearance thus far in his career and it was a non-appearance) at the age of 32.

The Italian’s success in very similar conditions in Monte-Carlo recently has surely boosted his belief that he can go further in majors and on the way to that title he defeated Zverev pretty comfortably in two sets.

In terms of their respective service hold/break stats over the last 12 months on clay at main level there isn’t a great deal between the pair (hence the close pricing) with Fognini just ahead on 106.2 against 105.2, but the more interesting stat is second serve points won.

Zverev has noticeably been struggling with his game lately and that shows up clearly in his weak 42.4% second serve points won count.

That’s by five percent the weakest number of second serve points won of anyone left in the tournament and other than a cosy win over the underpowered Mikael Ymer most things have been a struggle for the German this clay swing.

And it was so again in the last round when he edged past Dusan Lajovic in a fifth set, winning just one more point in the match and again only 33% of his second serve points won.

Playing that poorly from the back of the court leaves him under big pressure to serve well and on this form it’s hard to see Zverev taking down Fognini – but as is often the case with Fabio, there’s a caveat.

He’s been struggling with injury on and off for a while and again had treatment for an ankle or calf issue in his previous round here against Roberto Bautista Agut.

Of that Fabio said: “Right now I'm a little tired and I feel a little pain, I hope to recover well tomorrow [Sunday] but I do not think it is anything serious.”

In this situation where the odds are about even and you fancy one a fair bit more than the other I often think it’s worth pushing the boat out a little and one point on the -1.5 sets on Fognini at 2.30 looks the bet.

Best Bet

  • 1 point win Fognini -1.5 sets to beat Zverev (2.50, Unibet)

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