French Open Men's Singles Day Three: Improving Millman can shock Shapovalov

Australian Tennis Player John Millman
John Millman is a value underdog against Denis Shapovalov...
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First round matches continue on day three of the French Open, and with 20 matches to get our teeth into, our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, previews the men's singles action...

"Today, Shapovalov takes on John Millman, who had shown very little level on clay at all until this season, where he made a run to the final in Budapest at ATP Tour level, and then took the title in Aix en Provence Challenger, against a decent field. The Australian, Millman, has evidently improved on his worst surface and that's not entirely surprise, given my perception that he's one of the harder working players on tour."

Wawrinka forced to rebuild career following first round defeat

There were little in the way of shocks yesterday in Paris, although Roberto Bautista-Agut was perilously close to being eliminated, fighting back from a break down to Denis Istomin in the final set. This didn't mean that no big names were dumped out of the event however - defending champion Stan Wawrinka found Guillermo Garcia-Lopez too strong in the latter stages of their match and the Swiss man now needs to rebuild his career.

Having lost his runner-up points from last year's event, he's now dropped out of the top 250 in the world, and he'll now be relying on qualifiers and in more probability, wild cards, to gain entry to ATP Tour events - part of me hopes that he'll start from the bottom again and work his way up on the Challenger Tour.

Bedene and Cuevas match-up looking very competitive

Arguably the match of the day at Roland Garros takes place in the opener, with Aljaz Bedene's clash with Pablo Cuevas looking very competitive. The market is having difficulty splitting the duo, and my numbers agree with this as well.

Market gamble on Marterer well founded

Also at 10:00 UK time we see several other matches where I feel there is some value. Firstly, Ryan Harrison takes on Max Marterer, with Harrison having a woeful record on clay throughout his career. In the last 18 months, he's 7-11, winning 62.4% of service points and 33.0% on return, so he's evidently quite a bit below top 50 level on the dirt. Going back through his career, he's 13-23, with similar points won percentages, so there is little doubt that he's far below his hard court level.

Opponent Marterer, a 22 year old German, is a player of a decent potential level, and his data from Challenger events, where he has won a number of titles on clay, translates very well to future ATP Tour success. While the [1.71] still offers some value on Marterer, there's been quite a drop in odds - he was priced at around [1.90] generally on Friday.

Improving Millman capable of shocking Shapovalov

Another North American who has mediocre clay data is the Canadian, Denis Shapovalov. A 6-4 record on clay and run to the Madrid semi-finals this season doesn't tell the full story - he's actually running at just 96.8% combined serve/return points won percentages, and won a lot of tight matches.

In addition, I suspect that Shapovalov benefited in the extreme from the very quick conditions in Madrid several weeks ago, and he won't face these conditions in Paris, which has court speed more akin to a traditional clay court.

Today, Shapovalov takes on John Millman, who had shown very little level on clay at all until this season, where he made a run to the final in Budapest at ATP Tour level, and then took the title in Aix en Provence Challenger, against a decent field. The Australian, Millman, has evidently improved on his worst surface and that's not entirely surprise, given my perception that he's one of the harder working players on tour.

Millman can be taken at [3.10] to eliminate Shapovalov this morning.

Lorenzi and Andujar several long-shots who can cause damage

In other matches, Kevin Anderson looks short at [1.13] , given fitness concerns, against Paolo Lorenzi. The Italian veteran, Lorenzi, hasn't shown much this year but is much more comfortable on his favourite surface, while Fabio Fognini may not have things all his own way against a resurgent Pablo Andujar, who has already picked up clay titles this season himself.

We also see the inconsistent Jack Sock take on the competent Challenger player, Jurgen Zopp, while the veteran French duo of Nicolas Mahut and Julien Benneteau have got horrific clay data across the last couple of years and are justifiably heavy underdogs against Juan Martin Del Potro and Leonardo Mayer, respectively.

Nadal resumes tough match against Bolelli

Finally, tournament favourite, Rafa Nadal continues his interrupted match from yesterday afternoon, and has been pushed a little by lucky loser Simone Bolelli. The King of Clay finds himself two sets up but 0-3 down in set three against the ageing Italian, and hasn't had things his own way, facing three break points on serve and only creating seven across 11 return games.

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Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings

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