Third round action at the French Open continues on Saturday, with the final eight men's singles matches of the round taking place. Dan Weston previews the day ahead...
"Most of the matches on the schedule look like being mismatches. Diego Schwartzman, Jannik Sinner and Matteo Berrettini are also heavy favourites to progress, leaving only two relatively competitive-looking clashes on the schedule."
Ruud exits after five-set epic
It was a tough day yesterday in Paris with our third quarter outright, Casper Ruud, losing a four and a half hour five-setter against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina despite winning 52% of points in the match. Reilly Opelka also failed to cover the game handicap against Daniil Medvedev, who is gaining more market faith in the outright, now shortening to 28.027/1 fifth-favourite.
In that outright market, Rafa Nadal is still odds-on at 1.855/6, with Novak Djokovic 5.79/2 and Stefanos Tsitsipas 7.613/2, suggesting that there is around an 85% chance that the winner comes from that trio.
Nadal and Djokovic again with virtual byes to progress
Both Nadal and Djokovic are in action today, and as with previous rounds, they are priced up as having a virtual bye - Djokovic faces the Lithuanian, Ricardas Berankis, while Nadal is an overwhelming favourite to end British interest in the singles, with the King of Clay facing Cameron Norrie.
These early rounds for the elite players really are just a procession and I can't understand why people enjoy watching such one-sided matches - I'm much more interested in the more competitive matches later on today.
Market expectations a little conservative on Federer
I agree with the market pricing on the elite duo, and in fact I broadly agree with the market on all of the men's matches today. Expectations are a little more conservative on Roger Federer, who is 1.351/3 for his meeting with the improving Dominik Koepfer, and I think that price is fair enough. We still don't really know what we are going to get from Federer given a lack of match activity in the last year and a half and his four-set win over Marin Cilic on Thursday was arguably a little closer than the scoreline suggested.
Most of the matches on the schedule look like being mismatches. Diego Schwartzman, Jannik Sinner and Matteo Berrettini are also heavy favourites to progress, leaving only two relatively competitive-looking clashes on the schedule.
High-potential Musetti deserved favourite over Cecchinato
Both will take place quite early in the day as well, so if you want to see a competitive men's match you might have to focus on these. In the first, it's an all-Italian encounter between Marco Cecchinato and Lorenzo Musetti. Cecchinato caused a real shock in 2018 when getting to the semi-finals here as an unseeded player, beating Novak Djokovic in the process, before he was eliminated by Dominic Thiem. Things have got a little tougher for Cecchinato in more recent times, and he was ranked outside the top 100 before the tournament.
However, he still retains solid clay ability - he's far better than his ranking on the surface - but the same can be said for his opponent, Musetti. The 19-year-old looks on the pathway to the top ten, with huge clay potential in particular. This year, Musetti is running at just shy of 103% combined service/return points won in main tour matches on clay, and for a player who has just turned 19, this really marks him out as a player to watch. He's 1.728/11 to get the win, which looks about right to me.
Alcaraz Garfia not miles from value against Struff
Finally, another young player who looks to be on his way to the top on clay is Carlos Alcaraz Garfia, with the recently turned 18-year-old boasting even better clay stats than Musetti this year. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the Spaniard wins this tournament in the future, but today he has to focus on getting the better of Jan-Lennard Struff. Alcaraz Garfia 1.594/7 to do so, which isn't a million miles from being value in my view - anything around 1.654/6 or greater and I'd be more tempted.
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