The French Open generated some immediate talking points with Dominic Thiem among those defeated on the opening day, and Dan Weston is returning to discuss this and day two...
"Both players have won around 80% of their matches on clay at that level in the last 12 months, with Zapata Miralles actually having marginally better service and return points won percentages, so I think that Zapata Miralles offers some handicap value."
Thiem dumped out by Andujar in opening day shock
In yesterday's preview, I suggested that Dominic Thiem was the most vulnerable of the heavy favourites in action yesterday and so it proved, with the Austrian losing from a 2-0 set lead to be dumped out in five by the Spanish veteran, Pablo Andujar. This opens the third quarter up nicely for our quarter three winner pick, Casper Ruud, who gets is campaign underway today as an overwhelming favourite against Benoit Paire.
Another favourite who I thought was too short was Carlos Taberner, who was beaten in four by fellow qualifier Roman Safiullin, while our actual selection, Laslo Djere, also produced a winner as he got past home player Corentin Moutet in four tight sets.
Despite market expectations on Thiem being fairly low, there has been some adjustment to the outright market with Rafa Nadal into 1.8910/11 from around evens, and Novak Djokovic also shortening to a current 6.86/1. Ruud is into second favourite to win quarter three, behind Alexander Zverev, who needed five sets himself to see off the challenge of countryman Oscar Otte.
Federer anticipated to defeat Istomin
With the exception of Stefanos Tsitsipas, the big names struggled yesterday and it will be interesting to see if this dynamic continues.
Roger Federer starts his campaign today, against Denis Istomin, and I don't think the Swiss legend could have hand-picked much of an easier start.
There were quite a few unseeded young clay-courters with high potential that he could have drawn, who could have been a real test, but the 1.132/15 about Federer looks pretty accurate against a declining veteran who was never a particularly strong clay-courter at his best.
Sinner looking a bit overvalued by the market
I also think that market expectations are too high on Jannik Sinner, who looks very short also at 1.132/15 for his meeting with Pierre-Hugues Herbert. The Frenchman, Herbert, isn't a notably above-average clay-courter, but could provide a test against Sinner who has lost twice in the last three tournaments when priced around 1.201/5 or below. While Sinner retains huge future potential, his stats this year show the work he still has to do to challenge at the highest level.
Zapata Miralles can keep it close in all-Spanish clash
Sinner, however, is expected to be a top ten regular for years to come and I think many also expect similar of Carlos Alcaraz Garfia, who today is a very short-looking 1.282/7 favourite against his Spanish countryman Bernabe Zapata Miralles. Both players qualified to be here without an abundance of difficulty, and have also both won a clay-court Challenger Tour event this month - Alcaraz Garfia triumphing in Oeiras while Zapata Miralles also lifted the title in Heilbronn the week before.
Both players have won around 80% of their matches on clay at that level in the last 12 months, with Zapata Miralles actually having marginally better service and return points won percentages, so I think that Zapata Miralles offers some handicap value. Unfortunately, the Exchange handicap market is quite illiquid at this stage - it will hopefully improve before this afternoon - but we can get Zapata Miralles at 4/5 with the Sportsbook receiving a 6.5 game head start, and this looks a decent enough spot to me.
Medvedev with much to prove ahead of Bublik meeting
In other matches, Daniil Medvedev has much to prove on clay but looks fairly accurately priced at 1.454/9 to get the better of Alexander Bublik, while the all-American clash between Sam Querrey and John Isner should be very serve-dominated, with tiebreaks anticipated. The evening match, featuring Lorenzo Musetti and David Goffin, looks like a really fascinating match-up with the young Italian, Musetti, a justified slight favourite in what looks likely to be a pretty competitive match.
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