Paris Masters Day Two: Fucsovics capable of underdog win against over-rated Paire
The Paris Masters continues on day two with first and second round matches, and back to give his thoughts on today's matches, is our tennis columnist, Dan Weston...
"As I’ve mentioned previously, Paire’s hard court data is mediocre at best, and indoors, it’s even worse. He hasn’t had a year where he’s had greater than a 100% combined hold/break percentage in his entire career, and his all-time figure is even below 95%, winning less than 50% of his matches."
Carreno-Busta with question marks for Medvedev meeting
Round one action continues in Paris, with the remaining six matches on the schedule taking place today, in addition to four second round clashes mostly taking place later in the day.
Looking at the first-round meetings initially, as with yesterday, it's quite a tough card, which starts at 10am UK time. Normally, Pablo Carreno-Busta would look big at [4.00] for his match with Daniil Medvedev, but his fitness is obviously up for considerable doubt.
Since retiring in the fifth set to Joao Sousa in the US Open, Carreno-Busta received two straight-set defeats at the hands of Benoit Paire. The first was an absolute drubbing in the Davis Cup in mid-September, before a closer, but still straight-set defeat to the same man almost a month later in Shanghai, in the second week of October. It's difficult to think he can elevate himself from that level to get the better of one of the most improved players on the ATP Tour this morning.
Pouille requiring a leap of faith against Simon
Other players that look big include Lucas Pouille at [2.42] over countryman Gilles Simon, but again, there's a caveat. Pouille's general record indoors is great, but across all surfaces, is just 7-9 from his loss in the semi-finals of Stuttgart in June, onwards. After a good start against Borna Coric last week in Vienna, he succumbed in three sets - including a set two bagel - although it's worth noting that Coric only created one more break point chance during the match.
At the start of the season, I thought Simon would have a dreadful 2018. At the age of 33, his service numbers had really declined - a huge alert for a veteran - and while they still aren't above-average this season, he's been a threat on return, breaking opponents 27.6% across all surfaces this year. He's also been in decent touch indoors in recent weeks, taking the title in Metz, although he did have a bad loss to Marco Cecchinato outdoors in Shanghai at the start of the month.
On balance, the price on Pouille is pretty decent, although it does require quite a leap of faith to consider he's going to get back to the level which saw him as one of the best indoor players on tour.
Paire looking over-rated for Fucsovics clash
The player I like as today's recommendation is Marton Fucsovics, who is a [2.38] underdog against home player Benoit Paire, and to be honest, I don't understand the price.
As I've mentioned previously, Paire's hard court data is mediocre at best, and indoors, it's even worse. He hasn't had a year where he's had greater than a 100% combined hold/break percentage in his entire career, and his all-time figure is even below 95%, winning less than 50% of his matches.
Fucsovics is a lower-profile player, and arguably with less natural talent, and I feel that this natural talent that Paire possesses continues to influence the market, despite his tendency for on-court dramatics. Certainly, the Frenchman is in poor form of late, with straight-set losses as a strong favourite to both Egor Gerasimov and Alexei Popyrin in his last two tournaments.
All things considered, Fucsovics looks the best bet of a tough card today, and I actually make him favourite to progress here.
Sousa requiring huge improvement to test Djokovic
In other action, some big names start their campaigns today, and this includes Marin Cilic, who is [1.45] to oust Philipp Kohlschreiber. The German, Kohlschreiber, has had historical success against Cilic, but I still make the market price about right.
In addition, Novak Djokovic takes a 5-0 head to head lead into his meeting with Joao Sousa, without losing a set. These five wins were absolute thrashings, with Sousa losing 6-0, 6-1 or 6-2 in sets on seven of the 14 competed.
Unsurprisingly, with these set scorelines, Sousa's data in these head to head matches is utterly horrific - he's held less than 50% of the time - and it would take a major turnaround in this for him to even threaten to take a set from the world number two this afternoon.
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Back Marton Fucsovics at [2.38] to beat Benoit Paire