French Open

French Open Day 3 Tips: Player for the big occasion once again underrated

Stephens clay
Stephens underrated: The American saves her best tennis for the big occasions

On day 3 of the French Open our tennis expert Gavin Mair has his sight set on a former French Open finalist that is misunderstood by the betting markets...

  • Sloane Stephens capable of big results

  • Putintseva a tricky opponent

  • Match will be on Stephens' racket

If we were to compile a list of the top 10 players of her generation there would be a spot for Sloane Stephens. The American is a Grand Slam champion and a former French Open finalist.

However, history books won't be kind to her due to a misunderstanding of her love of the sport.

Stephens is a player that finds the week to week cycle of the tour uninteresting and can often be spotted losing to mediocre players throughout the season. These results are weighted too heavily against Stephens by oddsmakers when the bigger matches come round - although that is the rational thing to do.

Four defeats on the spin

Heading into Roland Garros Stephens has lost her last four matches, including most recently to Magdalena Frech and Olivia Gadecki - two players that if Stephens cared even slightly about beating she would do so easily.

Before that run Stephens was in strong form, notching a title in Rouen and winning seven matches on the spin before running into top tenner Maria Sakkari in Madrid.

During that winning spell Stephens beat a string of capable players that includes - Karolina Pliskova, Peyton Stearns (winner at the weekend in Rabat), Caroline Garcia, Magda Linette, Marta Trevisan and Elise Mertens. That is strong and meaningful form in anyone's book.

One of Stephens' recent losses was against today's opponent Yulia Putintseva in Rome. The Kazakhstani is herself a useful player on clay and she has proven effective in the past at finding ways to win against the American.

Pesky Putintseva

Putintseva plays an entirely different brand of tennis to Stephens. Her playbook is all about variety, mixing up her attack with differing trajectories and paces. This is not a bad recipe to upset Stephens when she's in her less focussed and less patient form. Putintseva has won four of their seven career meetings.

Stephens is a clean ball striker, with great athleticism at the baseline to defend and build her attacks. The match will come down to her execution on the day and where her mind is at.

The American always plays well at the French Open, reaching the fourth round on at least nine of her previous visits, the quarter finals on two and the final back in 2018.

It tells of her calibre not only as a player but as a clay courter. Her long term form at the most important clay event is impressive.

Putintseva's game is effective but it is not capable of reaching the same heights as Stephens when both play their best. The match is readily on the other player's racket even if the Kazakhstani is playing well.

The form of Putintseva has been decent over the past two months on the clay, but she's beaten everyone she should be beating with the win against Stephens the stand out result.

I trust the ability of Stephens and for her to overcome her perceived lack of form to defeat the pesky Putintseva in what is an important tournament for the American.

The odds against price on Stephens at 11/102.11 is my pick for day 3.

Now read more of our French Open tips here!

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