French Open

French Open Day 2: French fancy can take out seed

Kalinskaya clay
Clay in her shoes: Anna Kalinskaya has yet to show she can play on clay

A seeded player in questionable form and with a dislike for clay looks vulnerable on day two of the French Open. Tennis tipster Gavin Mair gives the lowdown...

  • French player Burel does well at home

  • Kalinskaya poor clay record

  • Shaky recent record as a favourite for Russian

Although there have been concerted efforts to standardise the speeds of playing conditions and fewer examples of court specialists exist, it is still relevant for certain players.

Russia's Anna Kalinskaya is one such player. The 25 year-old Muscovite relishes hard courts and has earned herself a seeded spot in the rankings in large part two a quarter-final run at the Australian Open back in January.

However, at Slams played on other surfaces Kalinskaya has yet to jump out of the starting blocks, failing to escape round one at the French Open or Wimbledon.

Despite this record Kalinskaya is priced at 4/61.67 to win her first round match against Clara Burel.

Comfortable Clara

French player Clara Burel grew up on clay courts and has had her best professional results on the surface, twice reaching main tour finals on this surface.

Burel knows how to move on this surface and her game is reliant on the timing of her strokes. She has shown that this an adaptable style of playing on the clay.

She has been competitive throughout the clay swing and last week had a good performance in her home land dispatching Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina in Strasbourg. Two players in the latter stages of their career but still credible tour competitors.

The French Open has not been kind to Burel in recent years with first round ties against Sara Sorribes Tormo, Maria Sakkari and Danka Kovinic in her past three visits. However, in 2020 as a wildcard she did produce a creditable run to the third round.

There is no reason for her to fear Kalinskaya on this surface.

Shaky favourite

Kalinskaya on the other hand is an uncompromising flat hitter and whilst this season she has executed that game to gain impressive results on hard courts this has not translated to similar form on the dirt.

The Russian has won only two matches during the clay swing - one against the world ranked 457 Carolina Kuhl in a Stuttgart qualifier, and the other against a physically fragile Clara Tauson.

Despite this obvious lack of form Kalinskaya continues to be favoured in the markets. This has not gone well for short odds backers who will have watched her lose three times as a sub 1.51/2 favourite, and once as a sub 1.11/10 favourite.

Kalinskaya is not even regarded a top 50 player on clay according to ELO ratings - which although imperfect, do give a reasonable indication of a player's surface ability.

For those who put any value in off-court happenings, rumours of Kalinskaya's private life have surfaced online as she is reportedly dating men's star Jannik Sinner. Whether or not public knowledge of this affair has an impact on her or not remains to be seen, but some people handle this attention better than others.

Burel tends to do well in France, notching with four of her past five titles here. Whilst not a contender for the French Open, she will fancy the opportunity to add another win at her home Grand Slam to her collection. It is worth backing Burel at 6/52.20 to defeat Kalinskaya.

Now read more of our French Open tips here!

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