French Open Men's Singles Day Six: Improving Berrettini can cover generous game handicap against Thiem

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic is a heavy favourite to beat Roberto Bautista-Agut today...
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We have eight matches in the men's singles event at the French Open today, as the third round gets underway. Returning to assess the value is our tennis columnist, Dan Weston...

"In main tour matches in the last year, Berrettini - purely based on service and return points won - is around top 50 level, and he's suffered from a very poor break point performance, both on serve and return."

Shapovalov the biggest name to exit on day five

Yesterday's action at Roland Garros saw the second round concluded, and again, there was little in the way of shocks, with perhaps the biggest name exiting being the Canadian youngster, Denis Shapovalov. I mentioned in our preview on Thursday that Shapovalov looked very short against Max Marterer, who has more surface experience, and indeed, he was found wanting.

We also managed to grab a very nicely priced odds-against winner, with John Isner's match against Horacio Zeballos generating not only our required first-set tiebreak, but indeed every set in the first three. Occasions where there is so much perceived value in a pre-betting scenario are incredibly rare.

Certainly, there isn't anything like this today, which is unlikely to surprise most readers. Of the eight matches on today's card, value is pretty borderline in three, so I'll discuss these to begin with.

Berrettini capable of keeping things close against Thiem

First up is Dominic Thiem's match against Matteo Berrettini, with Thiem priced at [1.07] currently on the Exchange. Sure, the Austrian deserves to be a huge favourite against someone who is still trying to break through to the main tour, but Berrettini is a decent prospect with a strong serve and solid stats in general.

In addition, in main tour matches in the last year, Berrettini - purely based on service and return points won - is around top 50 level, and he's suffered from a very poor break point performance, both on serve and return. With even standard break point performance (based on service and return points won expectation), the Italian youngster would be virtually certain to have a positive win-loss record on the main tour, and perhaps this has led to him being under-rated by the market today.

The game handicap market is still forming, but Berrettini +8.5 games is available at [1.79] currently, and I'd expect this to rise by several ticks in the run-up to the match. Given his strong serve, he surely has very solid chances to cover this line.

Dimitrov could be found wanting against Verdasco

The other two matches where my model found value was Fernando Verdasco, at [2.36] against Grigor Dimitrov, with Verdasco's clay data over both the short and long-term being better than the Bulgarian's. My issue with recommending Verdasco is the slight fitness doubts over the Spaniard, which Guido Andreozzi was unable to exploit on Tuesday, but if Verdasco is in decent condition, this market price is wrong.

Underdog Khachanov with better clay data than Pouille

Lucas Pouille's match against Karen Khachanov is the other match worth discussing from a pre-match value perspective, with Pouille coming through in four sets against Cameron Norrie yesterday in what was an interrupted match from Tuesday.

The Frenchman, Pouille, is the [1.80] favourite in front of his home crowd, and this looks questionable to me. This year on clay, Khachanov has won more service points (64.0% to 63.5%) and also more on return (39.0% to 38.2%), and across the last 18 months, figures are also pretty level.

Unless you somehow give the French crowd a huge weighting in quantifying the pre-match chances of either player, it would be difficult to justify this line on Pouille.

Djokovic a heavy favourite to progress past Bautista-Agut

All the other matches feature correctly-priced heavy favourites. If Gael Monfils can somehow get back to his best, then the [3.60] about him against David Goffin would look very generous indeed, but there's a big question mark as to whether he will be able to do this, either today or in the future, while Novak Djokovic takes a 6-1 head to head lead into his clash with Roberto Bautista-Agut, where the former number one is a [1.22] favourite to make the fourth round.

Gilles Simon has been resurgent in the last couple of weeks after a woeful 12 months or so, but should find Kei Nishikori too hot to handle today, while the same can be said of Marco Cecchinato, as he faces Pablo Carreno-Busta.

Zverev needing less drama to avoid accumulated fatigue

Alexander Zverev rounds off the action, with the German youngster a very heavy [1.06] favourite to see off the talented but inconsistent Damir Dzumhur. A repeat of Tuesday's five-set match for Zverev today would not do him any favours at all in subsequent rounds.


Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings

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