There's 14 second round matches at the Paris Masters today with most of the big names and seeded players starting their tournament. Dan Weston returns to preview the day ahead...
"He's lost to strong opposition in most tournaments of late - the likes of Matteo Berrettini, Hubert Hurkacz, Dan Evans and Carlos Alcaraz Garfia - and the market odds suggest another loss to a quality opponent is something of a foregone conclusion."
Djokovic unconvincing in opening victory
In the early round two matches last night, pre-tournament favourite Novak Djokovic stumbled past Marton Fucsovics in three sets while there was a somewhat more straightforward victory for Casper Ruud, who got the better of Alexander Bublik. With those two players getting the job done, albeit in differing fashion, there's 14 more round two matches today to see who joins the duo in round three tomorrow.
Yesterday I was sceptical about how much pre-match value there was on the card and unfortunately, it's more of the same today - the market has done a pretty accurate job, in my opinion, on the majority of the card. Here's a couple of matches which are worth discussing in a little more detail:-
Rublev should have too much for Fritz
Taylor Fritz 2.6613/8 vs Andrey Rublev 1.584/7: Yesterday I liked the underdog chances of Lorenzo Sonego against a potentially fatigued Fritz, but the American fought back from a set down to win in three. However, Rublev should be a step too far for Fritz, who has had a hectic schedule after reaching the Vienna final on Sunday.
Having said that, Rublev has been in mediocre form since reaching the final of the Cincinnati Masters in August, failing to win three matches in a row at an event subsequently, including four defeats as a heavy pre-match favourite in his last four tournaments, but in theory at least, there should be a reasonable ability differential between the duo. Add in the fatigue issues for Fritz into the mix, and Rublev looks likely to progress here.
Norrie needs to keep winning
Cameron Norrie 1.511/2 vs Reilly Opelka 2.767/4: Norrie is a solid favourite, which looks about right to me, and this match is an absolute must-win for him if he is to reach the ATP Finals. Standing in his way is the big-serving Opelka, who unsurprisingly needed a tiebreak to get the job done against Filip Krajinovic yesterday.
The quicker than average conditions here indicates that there's going to be the potential of more tiebreaks on display in this match although it's worth noting that the Brit has broken opponents more than 30% of the time on hard court this year, so he's certainly going to have a greater likelihood of pressuring the Opelka serve than the average player.
Popyrin can compete in Tsitsipas clash
Stefanos Tsitsipas 1.182/11 vs Alexei Popyrin 6.205/1: Third seed Tsitsipas is a heavy favourite to defeat lucky loser Popyrin, who was defeated by Tommy Paul in qualifying but managed to get that lucky loser spot subsequently. Alex De Minaur was no match for his countryman yesterday, with Popyrin dropping just three games en route to an easy win in round one, and that was an excellent win for the Australian.
Popyrin has also competed well in recent events despite not necessarily picking up the results.
He's lost to strong opposition in most tournaments of late - the likes of Matteo Berrettini, Hubert Hurkacz, Dan Evans and Carlos Alcaraz Garfia - and the market odds suggest another loss to a quality opponent is something of a foregone conclusion.
My model, at least, suggests the match could be a little closer than the market thinks. We have to remember that Tsitsipas is a pretty serve-orientated player and doesn't break opponents even 15% indoors in the last 12 months. Popyrin +4.5 games should settle at around the 1.855/6 mark on the Exchange and I like this line as the best spot on a tough day today.
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