French Open

French Open Day 8 Tips: Former finalist to be given workout

Tsitsipas clay
Relaxed Tsitsipas: The Greek may not look so calm following his Arnaldi experience

Matteo Arnaldi caused the shock of the tournament so far when he defeated Andrey Rublev. Tennis tipster Gavin Mair was impressed and thinks Stefanos Tsitsipas has a fight on his hands...

  • "He's outplaying Rublev."

  • Arnaldi has a puncher's chance

  • Tsitsipas the best on clay based on stats

I was exchanging messages with one a friend during Matteo Arnaldi's sensational defeat of Andrey Rublev. He had started watching at the start of set two and wondered what was going on.

At that point Arnaldi had just taken set one, a well earned tiebreak victory that included scrambling to make sure he was the winner of a lost cause on set point.

My answer was simple: "Arnaldi is outplaying Rublev."

However, I was unsure if Arnaldi could keep his level and I sort of expected Rublev's top five quality to eventually tilt the match in his favour. That didn't happen.

Rublev lost his mind

Arnaldi broke immediately at the start of set two and this put in motion a complete meltdown from Rublev. The Russian was not playing badly at all. He was hitting cleanly and powerfully, but Arnaldi had too much.

Conditions in Paris have been heavy but Arnaldi's forehand was cutting through the bog. It was impressive how well he stood up to scrutiny against Rublev whose consistent power usually would overwhelm opponents.

Rublev became frustrated at just how hard he was having to work for this and had an on court hissy fit that more or less sealed his fate.

Arnaldi didn't waiver. His level remained strong and he completed the win in straight sets without ever looking nervy in the closing stages. It was highly impressive.

Can Arnaldi repeat it?

If Arnaldi can find those levels again he can beat any player in the draw. However, I'm unconvinced he will. It is incredibly difficult for a player of Arnaldi's ranking to keep producing the physical and mental energy levels needed to better top opponents.

That win does however confirm what he is capable of. There have been signs here and there this season in taking sets off Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev, and his only previous top 10 victory in 2023 over clay specialist Casper Ruud in Madrid.

I feel that today's opponent Stefanos Tsitsipas will likely have too much for Arnaldi on this occasion.

Not only is it difficult for Arnaldi to back up his exertions and reproduce the Rublev conquering level, but Tsitsipas is a top clay player in his own regard.

Indeed according to stats driven ELO ratings Tsitsipas is the number one clay courter in the men's game. Although, when including other factors I would have him ranked slightly lower.

The Greek is in fine form himself having won his third Monte Carlo title in April, and maintaining decent performances throughout this season's clay campaign.

Tsitsipas is a former finalist in Paris, dropping a two set lead to Novak Djokovic in the 2021 final. He knows how to get through this draw.

However, I think Arnaldi certainly has the ability to keep Tsitsipas on his toes and I would be surprised if he were to fall away easily in this match.

My friend in his message's said who can stop that Arnaldi forehand? There is a school of thought that Arnaldi might even win this one.

On reflection I do think Tsitsipas' favouritism makes sense, but the 1/51.20 quoted by the Sportsbook is disrespectful of Arnaldi's puncher's chance.

An avenue I think that tends to bring value in backing favourites is to side with an in-form opponent to make life difficult by backing them to take at least a set. That is my angle of attack in this one.

Back Stefanos Tsitsipas and both players to win a set at 6/52.20.

Now read more of our French Open tips here!

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