ROUND two of the men’s singles at the 2019 French Open begins on Wednesday and Sean Calvert has his eyes on some possible underdog winners on day four in Paris.
The second round of the men’s singles at the French Open has, in recent years at least, been another excellent one for betting favourites, with 85% of them winning in the last six years (86% in the last three years).
Only three of 31 dogs won in this round last year, so it’s probably going to be another tricky one for us to find some sort of value.
The ones that I think could have some sort of a chance of upsetting the odds, or at least making life tough for the favourites on day four include: Juan Ignacio Londero, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Casper Ruud, Leo Mayer, Cristian Garin and Roberto Carballes Baena.
So, a few more today that look to have fair prospects than there have been so far in the tournament, and perhaps the one with the most potential is Garin.
Stanislas Wawrinka vs Cristian Garin
Stan’s form has been very up and down since he came back to the tour following a knee injury at the start of the 2018 season and in that time he’s only 19-14 win/loss against top-50 ranked opposition (4-4 on clay).
We saw some fine hitting from him in Madrid, where the altitude helps his big game, but after a pummelling from Rafa Nadal there he was then beaten all too easily by David Goffin next up and his level can’t be relied on these days.
If we take his stats from the last 12 months on clay we can see that Stan isn’t at his former level, with five wins from 10 matches and a service hold/break total of 102.3.
That’s pretty run of the mill and surely not good enough to make Wawrinka a 1.52 favourite against an opponent like Garin, whose stats are a fair bit better and whose form in recent months is beyond question.
Garin is now 19-5 win/loss in his last 12 months on clay and 7-2 versus top-50 ranked opponents, winning the last seven in a row, and landing two titles in the process.
That all adds up to a hold/break total of 108.2 and my only concern with backing Garin here is that he looked to be suffering with a knee problem in Geneva when he lost to Taro Daniel.
He looked okay against Reilly Opelka in a round one match with little rhythm to it and assuming he’s fit I’m happy to take my chances on Garin as underdog here.
Looking at Wawrinka's record since the start of 2018 we also find that he's only 22-18 win/loss when priced up as favourite (5-6 on clay) and 3-4 when priced up between 1.50 and 1.70 on clay.
Of the rest, it may be a case of survival of the fittest between Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Benoit Paire, both of whom have their physical issues currently: Paire with his ongoing back and Herbert also having treatment on his back during his five setter against Daniil Medvedev.
Herbert is much improved on clay and is more than capable of exploiting the situation if Paire’s workload over the last week or so catches up with him on Wednesday.
Leonardo Mayer may also have a fitness advantage over Diego Schwartzman, who had a tough five setter in round one against Marton Fucsovics and it was Mayer that won the only prior career clash between this pair, last season in Hamburg on the clay.
Mayer is always a tough one to call, with his high risk game either firing or not, but on his day he’s certainly very capable of taking down Schwartzman, whose good recent form in Rome makes him a tad short in price here (he was 1.51 for that Hamburg clash).
Another player that likes to play aggressively is, of course, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and while I was happy to oppose him as a 1.2 chance against Peter Gojowczyk in round one he’s a possible option at more or less the same price he was when he beat Kei Nishikori here four years ago.
Jo’s not the player he was at 34 years of age now, but neither is Nishikori, whose game hasn’t been at the same level since his wrist surgery, and on Kei’s weak results this clay swing Tsonga has a shot if he can strike early and get the crowd going.
Casper Ruud has compiled some very nice stats on the clay at main level in the past 12 months, with a 15-7 win/loss record and a 109.6 hold/break total that puts him right in there against Matteo Berrettini.
Indeed, it’s Ruud that slightly leads those stats, with Berrettini on 108.9, but the Italian has played 14 matches of his 27 against top-50 opponents and won 10 of them (Ruud 4-4 in his eight against top-50 opposition).
It could be a scrap though and Berrettini may need his serve to bail him out at times in this one.
I wouldn’t be so keen to be backing the injury prone Filip Krajinovic after a five setter in round one and a title run at the Lisbon Challenger before that either, with the Serb a very regular visitor to the treatment room.
And for similar reasons Richard Gasquet may prove to be a shaky favourite against Juan Ignacio Londero, who may simply outlast the Frenchman, who has barely played since the end of October 2018.
The Gasman ran out of, well, gas after one three-setter in Lyon last week and withdrew, which doesn’t bode well for what’s likely to be a battle against the durable Londero.
But with underdog winners once again rather scarce in Paris I’ll just take one small wager on day four.
- 0.5 points win Garin to beat Wawrinka (2.55, Unibet)