Yesterday's shocks - Tsitsipas and Medvedev exit
We saw the exits of strong pre-match favourites Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev yesterday in Paris, and what I've consistently said about Tsitsipas has again manifested itself - his serve-oriented style will see him play too many long matches early in Slams and accumulate fatigue at a faster rate than his rivals in the most arduous test for a tennis player. He will need to improve, and evolve, if he is to win Slams.
Those matches, however, are something of a starter for today's main course, with two cracking games in prospect this afternoon - starting at 1400 UK time.
Alcaraz hype justified
In the first, Alexander Zverev faces Carlos Alcaraz, and it's the Spanish phenomenon who is the strong favourite to progress, currently trading at 1.282/7 on the Exchange at the time of writing. Alcaraz will be grateful for several routine victories in the last couple of rounds after almost exiting at the hands of countryman Albert Ramos in round two, but Zverev has done a Tsitsipas to a slightly lesser extent - long sets and matches could see him struggle physically in a long best of five sets match.
The duo met in quicker conditions in the Madrid final at the start of this month and Alcaraz easily won 6-3 6-1 but was priced far bigger that day, closer to the 1.705/7 mark. The price difference between then and today is an illustration of both Alcaraz's potential, but also perhaps some degree of market hype as well.
On clay this year, there's no doubt that Alcaraz has the edge - he's winning around 3% more service and return points than the German, and has elite-level numbers around the 110% combined mark. There's no doubt that the market hype is justified, and I worry a little about whether Zverev's peak level can compete with him - Zverev hasn't got a fantastic track record against higher ranked players with elite level data.
Nadal friendless in the market against Djokovic
This evening in the night match, we see the clash that most tennis fans have been waiting for - Novak Djokovic versus Rafa Nadal. Despite losing five of his last six matches on clay to Nadal, Djokovic is the 1.4640/85 favourite, and I think that's a market movement based on injury doubts for Nadal and to some degree also, recent form - plus his unexpectedly long match on Sunday against Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Having said that, I'm torn with Nadal actually having better 2022 clay data than Djokovic, so from a numbers perspective there's a chasm between market pricing and any kind of basic model pricing.
The problem is, that those other factors mentioned are real, and a concern for anyone wanting to back Nadal. He has only been priced up bigger than the current 3.1085/40 once in the French Open in his entire career - a straight set loss to Djokovic in 2015 - and it's difficult to forget Nadal's quite incredible record at this venue.
I'd love to lean towards Nadal, but it's tough to back him in the circumstances. However, this is about as big a price as you'll find on the King of Clay at Roland Garros.