The French Open gets underway this morning in Paris, and with 20 matches scheduled today in the men's tournament, Dan Weston returns to give his thoughts on the upcoming action...
"The return-orientated Moutet is a young player of decent potential but the market price on Djere looks decent to me now he stemmed a run of five consecutive losses with a quarter-final showing in Geneva several weeks ago."
Thiem perhaps the most vulnerable of the big names
It's that time again - the opening day of a Grand Slam, with the French Open back in its traditional time slot of the year after taking place in autumn last year after being rescheduled following the tour pausing last March. Things are always a little less hectic on the opening day in Paris, which always starts on Sunday for some reason, and there's 20 matches in the men's tournament to get us started which is a slight reduction on the 32 which take place on the opening day of the other three Grand Slams.
Big names in action on day one include Dominic Thiem, who faces Roger Federer's Geneva conqueror, the Spanish veteran Pablo Andujar, plus Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitipas also get their campaign underway against Oscar Otte and Jeremy Chardy. All are around 1.101/10 or below, so are extremely heavy favourites to get the job done on opening day although Thiem could be the most vulnerable to being surprised against Andujar - Thiem has had an uninspiring year so far, a knee injury and faces a decent clay-courter even at 35 years of age and now ranked outside the top 50.
Fitness doubts over Hanfmann before Laaksonen clash
As is often the case in these early rounds of Grand Slams, it's usually in the lower-profile matches where the value is at and today is no exception - albeit with the regular caveat that this is round one, with players often turning up in questionable condition and caution is usually urged in the first round.
A good example of this is Yannick Hanfmann against qualifier Henri Laaksonen, with the German, Hanfmann, looking decent value based on numbers against the Swiss journeyman. However, Hanfmann has struggled with a neck injury of late which forced him to withdraw against Filip Krajinovic a month ago in Munich, and has subsequently lost several matches as favourite against Joao Menezes and Brandon Nakashima, both ranked outside the top 100.
Given that Laaksonen has qualified impressively here, with excellent battling underdog victories over Juan Varillas and Juan Cerundolo, this spot probably is worth swerving although the 1.738/11 about Hanfmann looks good value in normal circumstances.
Djere with big serve edge over Moutet
One spot I quite like today is Laslo Djere at 1.834/5 versus Corentin Moutet, with the Serbian, Djere, having markedly better overall clay numbers in the last 12 months and a huge advantage on serve. The return-orientated Moutet is a young player of decent potential but the market price on Djere looks decent to me now he stemmed a run of five consecutive losses with a quarter-final showing in Geneva several weeks ago.
In that, Djere had decent wins over Thiago Monteiro and Fabio Fognini before losing to Denis Shapovalov - no disgrace there - and he made the final of Cagliari at the start of April on clay as well.
Moutet has also lost three of his last four on clay, albeit all as a slight to medium underdog, and I think the market is a little out of line on Djere's expectations today.
Fognini only for the brave as a heavy favourite
As is usually the case on the opening day of Grand Slams, there are plenty of clashes which look - bluntly speaking - to be mismatches, yet if you backed all the favourites in them in an accumulator, it would be an odds against proposition so there's a decent chance at least one will get beaten.
The question is who - we've already discussed Thiem looking a little more vulnerable out of the big names, while Fabio Fognini at 1.3130/100 against pretty much anyone is only for the brave. The Italian faces the home player, Gregoire Barrere, in the opening batch of matches. I also am uninspired by Karen Khachanov on clay and if Jiri Vesely brings his best to their match - a reasonably big 'if', however - then the 1.292/7 on the Russian could look pretty short.
Ruusuvuori could surprise market against McDonald
I also think Mackenzie McDonald looks short at 1.374/11 against Emil Ruusuvuori - in my view, Ruusuvuori has higher long-term potential, albeit perhaps less so on clay - and it's worth pointing out that the young Finn was an incredible 5/25 on break points when losing to Norbert Gombos in Parma. Finally, Carlos Taberner at 1.241/4 could struggle to justify expectations against another decent young player and fellow qualifier, Roman Safiullin - the dominant nature of his qualifying wins could be an influence on market expectations there.
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