We’re set for a cloudy but probably dry day on Thursday and Taylor Fritz, Kyle Edmund, Martin Klizan, Ivo Karlovic and perhaps Salvatore Caruso looks the dogs worth considering.
Taylor Fritz has to go on the list on the form of his clash with Roberto Bautista Agut last week in Lyon, where Fritz won without even facing a break point, so if we’re assuming it’ll be a similar match again then odds of 2.80 are tempting.
Fritz won 72% of the points on his second serve in that match (81% on his first) and yet he’s a bigger price this time than he was then, which is presumably due to the longer format and RBA’s assumed higher motivation in a major.
He’s got a lot to do to turn that around though and that one could well go lomg if Fritz serves as well again as he did in Lyon.
Martin Klizan backers had to go long a couple of days ago as well when the unpredictable Slovak went two sets down to Mikhail Kukushkin before coming back to win in five and the obvious concern with Klizan against Lucas Pouille is fitness.
If we assume Klizan is fit then he has marginally better main level clay court stats over their last 50 matches each than Pouille and slightly better too here at the French Open, while Pouille is just 5-5 win/loss versus lefties on clay at main level in his career.
Klizan was less than fit the only other time this pair met and there's little recent history of Klizan the match immediately after a five setter and that’s because he usually loses deciding sets at majors.
The last time he went five and won was here in 2017, also in round one, and he went on to lose in four tight sets to Andy Murray the next round.
Ivo Karlovic is another underdog with a definite chance, but he’s another where there are fitness concerns after the best part of two months off the tour and then playing a three-hour opener against Feli Lopez here.
At 40 years old it’s much harder to recover from that, but the weak record of Jordan Thompson, both on clay in general and against big servers on all surfaces, leads to me to consider Ivo.
Ivo has won both of their clashes (one a five set marathon here at the French) and Thompson is 3-8 versus the big servers in my database, breaking serve only 11.7% of the time in those 11 matches.
Pablo Cuevas vs Kyle Edmund
But it’s Edmund that gets the vote for me against Cuevas, whose record at the French Open is surprisingly poor, while Edmund has performed very well at this tournament so far in his career and comes off a morale boosting five set win in round one.
Cuevas has never won more than two straight matches in the main draw of the French Open and at this tournament he’s 1-8 win/loss versus top-50 opposition, such as Edmund.
In total in his 19 matches at the French Cuevas is 10-9 win/loss and his hold/break combined score in those matches is just 99.1 and five of those matches were against opposition ranked between 110 and 287.
The 33-year-old has also played an awful lot of matches this clay swing – 24 already and 59 sets – while Edmund has played only seven matches, so he’ll still be fresh.
Edmund, on the other hand, is 7-3 win/loss at the French Open so far and in those matches he’s compiled a very nice hold/break total of 108.1 while not facing any gimmes.
Chardy, Fognini (lost in five), Fucsovics, Alex De Minaur and Kevin Anderson (lost in five) were his most recent opponents, while he’s also faced Basilashvili and Isner here.
The slowness of the courts gives Edmund the time he enjoys on the ball and his attacking approach is something that Cuevas has struggled against in the past, often coming off second best against those that really try and take him on with aggression.
A positive sign for Edmund is the way he’s talking about these matches, saying of the Chardy win: “You have to go and get it. I don't like the feeling of relying on somebody giving the match to you,” and of the Cuevas clash: “I just have to go out and not think too much and just play. My game is certainly good enough now to hurt him.”
If he plays that way he's got every chance here.
The other one, Salvatore Caruso, is one where I just think that French veteran Gilles Simon isn’t fully fit and as I’ve mentioned before this clay swing, Simon often struggles against clay courters when he has to generate his own pace.
I’m not entirely sure that Caruso is up to the job, though, so I’ll pass on that one and just take Edmund on day five.
- 0.5 points win Edmund to beat Cuevas (2.38, Unibet)