THE second week of the French Open begins on Sunday, with the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in action, and it’s Federer’s clash with Leonardo Mayer that interests Sean Calvert on day eight in Paris.
In five of the last six years only one underdog per year has made it through from round four to the quarter-finals and it’s also a round that has featured few tie breaks – only 34% of the matches have featured one in the last half dozen seasons.
Leonardo Mayer vs Roger Federer
Mayer is serving very well at the moment and if he keeps his nerve (which is never a given with Mayer) he should be more than capable of at least pressing Federer in this one.
The Argentine in his last three matches has hit 1.02 aces per game and held 87.7% of the time, winning 78.8% of the points on first serve and a healthy 55.6% on second serve.
And the opposition hasn’t been poor either, with Jiri Vesely, Diego Schwartzman and an inspired Nicolas Mahut the vanquished trio.
Schwartzman especially is a fine returner – arguably one of the very best on tour – and he only broke Mayer twice in four tight sets of clay court tennis, so it’s worth thinking about a longer match than the layers expect here.
Federer holds serve around 88% of the time on clay and breaks around 25% of the time and I’d certainly expect him to have too much quality and composure (certainly composure) in the big moments, but in these conditions Mayer will likely have his moments.
When they played each other at the US Open in 2015 it was too fast for Mayer to cope, but strangely (almost certainly due to Fed not having played for a month) he took Federer all the way in even quicker conditions in Shanghai the season before.
Indeed, they’ve only ever clashed on outdoor hard and on clay in the form that Mayer is in right now this should be an entertaining encounter, assuming that Mayer doesn’t tighten up in only his second time in the last-16 of a major (first at the French Open).
Considering the stats that I mentioned above a tie break is quite likely, but I’d want a better price than 2.33, while over 31.5 games or Federer to win it 3-1 look perhaps the best options.
One issue that has cropped up now is Mayer admitting that he’s been struggling with injury lately: “I have been struggling for three days,” Mayer said. “I have had tests and I have a small tear in my left leg, so I will play [against Federer] with taping.”
That’s rather off-putting and I’ll only risk a small wager at a decent price in this one now.
- 0.5 points win Federer to beat Mayer 3-1 (3.70, Unibet)