French Open

French Open Day 4 Tips: American can win battle of wills

Kenin clay hitting
Kenin Can: The American knows how to win big matches

On day four of the French Open tennis tipster Gavin Mair is looking for a former French Open finalist to win a high-pressure match.

  • Caroline Garcia prone to pressure in Paris

  • Feisty American relishes the bear pit

  • Kenin great record at French Open

Today's bet is a sort I enjoy during Grand Slams where a high calibre player that is perceived to be out of form is installed as an outsider to win their match.

Sofia Kenin is a Grand Slam champion and a former finalist at this event but has had a torrid time off and on court over the past few years.

Her talent is undisputed and it has been a waiting game to see her recover something approaching her level best.

Kenin is priced as an outsider for her match against France's Caroline Garcia, but I believe there is value with the American.

Pressure match

The biggest reason for my selection is that this is a match environment where the favoured Caroline Garcia struggles. The French player admitted during her first round victory - a hard fought and nervy come from behind win against qualifier Eva Lys - "It is very difficult for me to remain calm. I dreamed as a child of playing here."

Andy Murray famously tipped Garcia as a future world number one after a promising performance in Paris back in 2011 when the Frenchwoman led Maria Sharapova by a set and 4-1. However, what that match unfortunately illustrated what has been a career long struggle for Garcia to get the job done at her home Slam.

Eleven of Garcia's 14 French Open visits have ended at or before the second round. For a player of her talent that is an appalling record. The biggest barrier to her going further has been nerves.

Against Lys it was clear that once again Garcia was struggling with the situation. In the first two sets of that match she was hitting barely over 50% of her first serves into play. Garcia in particular is a player that relies on the quality of her serve and the potential for her to struggle once again is clearly there.

Bullish Kenin

Garcia to her credit was able to turn the match in her favour, finishing strongly against Lys. However, the young German is still new to tour life and had run out of ideas quite quickly supplying Garcia with plenty of rhythm with which to build confidence.

Kenin simply won't do that. After an eyesore first set against Laura Siegemund the American went through the gears hitting powerful winners and mixing up her game with intelligent variety.

Over the past month she is almost breaking serve in half of her return games. Garcia is unlikely to drop serve so readily but Kenin will apply pressure and I think it could prove too much once again for the French player.

Despite a few years in the wilderness Kenin has proven she can go deep at this tournament, making it beyond the 2nd round in three of her six visits, including the final in 2020. For context that is as many times winning through this round as Garcia in her 14 efforts.

I've noticed a spark of life in Kenin recently. She loves the big match environment and was fired up by the Italian crowd in Rome that were relentlessly booing her against their home hope Lucia Bronzetti.

The Parisian crowd are known to turn matches involving home players into an intense atmosphere. Some players wilt in that bear pit, Kenin does not. She thrives on it.

She is talking confidently about her form remarking after the Siegemund win, "I love red clay, it really suits my game."

If this gets tight, which it very well might I think Kenin's personality will rise to the occasion. I am happy to back Kenin at 6/42.50

Now read more of our French Open tips here!

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