French Open

French Open Day 10 Tip: Slow starting Spaniard must be punished

Tsitipas clay
Fast start: Tsitsipas must get out of the blocks quickly against tournament favourite

Entering the business end of the tournament our tennis expert Gavin Mair has an angle of attack in repeat of 2023 quarterfinal

  • Alcaraz on course to win French Open

  • Spaniard is starting slow

  • A value option to keep Alcaraz onside

This time last year Carlos Alcaraz was in the form of his life when he met Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The Spaniard was free flowing, creative and dynamic. Alcaraz crushed Tsitsipas in the first two sets that were described in media reports as a 'masterpiece'.

Twelve months on it is again expected that outright favourite Alcaraz will continue his march towards a first French Open title, for which he is quoted as low as 6/42.50 on the Betfair Sportsbook.

However, he has been affected by an injury hit clay campaign and there is an air of vulnerability about him.

Doesn't have to be perfect

Alcaraz was a joy to watch last year but didn't win the tournament. Even if he isn't quite reaching 2023's level it feels like this is his year.

Obviously Tsitsipas will be doing all he can to prevent that from happening. The Greek star survived a scare in the previous round against the talented Italian Matteo Arnaldi.

For the first two sets Arnaldi's forehand was producing the same winners that bombed Andrey Rublev out of the tournament. Tsitsipas hung on, worked it out and was able to reverse his fortunes in a dominant conclusion to the match.

Against Alcaraz, Tsitsipas has far more familiarity which is a blessing and a curse. The curse being that in five meetings he has yet to defeat Alcaraz.

The blessing is that he has an opportunity to try and put things right. The Greek humorously suggested in advance of this match, "Carlos has suggested in the past he likes to play against me, so hopefully he likes it a little less this time."

Alcaraz on the other hand sounds very confident - "I know what I have to do tactically," he remarked.

It is incumbent on Tsitsipas to find a solution, and to implement it from the start of the match.

Shaky start

I've noticed that Alcaraz has started slowly in each of his matches this tournament. He is scratching off the cobwebs from a lack of matchplay in the run up to this event. That he has not quite shaken it off yet is grounds for opportunity.

Alcaraz has been broken in his first service game of each of his four matches so far. If Tsitsipas is to have any chance of winning this match he must capitalise on this frailty.

In last year's match the swarming Alcaraz had full control from early on. Tsitsipas simply cannot allow that to happen.

Tsitsipas has been a solid starter this week creating more break points than all but his first round opponent Marton Fucsovics during the first sets.

Alcaraz's confident comments open the prospect of complacency, as does his less than peak form and shaky starts. Overall I expect he wins this match as he has done every other time this duo has met.

It is important that the Greek starts well and the opportunity might present itself. Tsitsipas to win set one is interesting at 15/82.88, but I think Alcaraz will eventually show the correct answers to win this match-up.

That is why my pick is Carlos Alcaraz to lost the first set and win the match at 4/15.00

Now read more of our French Open tips here!

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