French Open Men's Singles Day One: Karlovic value against Moutet in battle of contrasting styles

Croatian Tennis Player Ivo Karlovic
Ivo Karlovic will face a rather different style in Corentin Moutet...
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The French Open begins on Sunday, and with 16 matches on the schedule, our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, is back to preview today's schedule...

"In fact, Moutet has some pretty decent long-term potential, although I do expect his mediocre serve to be exposed at this level against better returners than Karlovic. Despite this, my model did like the giant Croat at market prices, and it's worth noting that his recent defeats on clay have been tight against fairly creditable opposition."

16 matches on low-key day one in Paris

After what seems like days of preparation for myself, the 2018 French Open starts at 10:00 UK time this morning, and we are all set for some superb tennis over the next fortnight.

Today is rather a low-key start to a Slam, with just 16 men's and 16 women's matches played today, as opposed to the normal 32 elsewhere, and I've never really found a logical reason as to why the French Open starts on a Sunday, as opposed to the Monday start in the other three.

However, while there are fewer matches today compared to a normal Slam day one, there are still some interesting matches for us to get our teeth into on the men's side of things.

Dimitrov and Zverev among big names in action

Several decent potential matches include Victor Troicki, who has had fitness issues of late, against Grigor Dimitrov, while Lucas Pouille faces Daniil Medvedev in a battle between two decent young players who have both got plenty to prove on clay. In addition, second tournament favourite, Alexander Zverev, opens his campaign against Ricardas Berankis, and is a fair-looking [1.02] to progress.

Other interesting matches include David Goffin against Robin Haase, with the Dutchman, Haase, one of the tougher unseeded opponents that Goffin could have drawn, and the all-Argentine meeting between Federico Delbonis and the declining Thomaz Bellucci. Delbonis is [1.66] to get past his compatriot, which looks about right.

Karlovic to win battle of styles against Moutet

One of the most contrasting style match-ups you will ever see is also in evidence, with the big-serving veteran, Ivo Karlovic, a [1.83] favourite to get past the young French prospect, Corentin Moutet, who definitely ranks among the more return-orientated players on tour.

In fact, Moutet has some pretty decent long-term potential, although I do expect his mediocre serve to be exposed at this level against better returners than Karlovic. Despite this, my model did like the giant Croat at market prices, and it's worth noting that his recent defeats on clay have been tight against fairly creditable opposition.

Market gamble Jarry capable of seeing off Donaldson

Prior to receiving market support, I did want to look at Nicolas Jarry, who is [1.55] against the clay-hating Jared Donaldson. The American, Donaldson, is 1-5 on clay this season on tour, winning just 58.4% of points on serve and 34.7% on return, which are woeful numbers indeed. Jarry's return data is similar, but has won around 8% more points on serve, giving him a very decent edge to this match-up.

Indeed, looking at a bigger sample of longer-term data over the last 18 months (this clay season and last), Donaldson is a very poor 3-10, winning 59.7% of service points and 36.1% on return, which is marginally better but still not even a top 100 level.

Fritz and Kudla with value in some lower-profile matches

Finally, in other matches, I quite like Taylor Fritz at [2.42] against Guido Andreozzi, while the underdog, Denis Kudla, at [2.90], may not be without a chance against the erratic Damir Dzumhur.

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