Rafa Nadal and Dominic Thiem are among the big names in action at the French Open today but Dan Weston is looking at the lesser lights for his pick of Monday's best Roland Garros bets...
"Ramos should much prefer slower clay to Mannarino, who tends to do his best work in quicker conditions and the -4.5 games about Ramos is available at 10/11 with the Sportsbook. I think this line is pretty generous and I don’t think it will be around at the start of their match."
Goffin and Murray among those with opening day losses
Big names flew out at the start of the men's singles tournament in Paris yesterday, with Andy Murray failing to test Stan Wawrinka in what looked like it could have been match of the day, while David Goffin also was outclassed by Italian teenager Jannik Sinner, who has clear future potential - particularly on this surface. This wasn't really an underdog victory for Sinner though given pricing, and nor was Alex De Minaur's loss to Marco Cecchinato.
Evidence of slow conditions in Paris
One talking point that I noticed when looking at the data from the opening day is that servers really struggled. Just 58% of service points were won in the men's tournament, and while the first round - often featuring Challenger Tour players and a wide discrepancy in abilities between opposition - is logical to have lower numbers than average, this is much lower than I was expecting. Could this be a result of the cold and damp conditions? Could this be an impact of the new balls they are reported to be using? We shall see - but regardless of the reasons, this potential reduction in court speed looks like it could be something to consider as the tournament progresses.
Impact on over/under first set games markets
This makes me less likely to look at something like 'over 12.5 games in the first set' for the Reilly Opelka versus Jack Sock match, which my model had as a 66% chance in advance of the tournament. While I don't want to account for too much from yesterday's fairly small sample of matches, using that court speed data instead would yield a relatively sizeable reduction in this number.
Gomez with potential to keep it close
Moving on, I want to look at one of the lower-profile matches on the schedule, with Emilio Gomez facing Lorenzo Sonego in the opening round, not before 11:30 this morning UK time.
Gomez has qualified to be here, with three underdog victories in qualifiers, including a superb win over Thiago Seyboth Wild in qualifying round one. Wins over Filip Horansky and Dmitry Popko were also impressive, and there's an obvious positive that he's been in Paris for a while and should be adjusted to the conditions better than many players in the field.
Opponent Sonego is 1-4 since the tour resumed, with his only victory over the out of form Nikoloz Basilashvili, and based on the above, plus Challenger data adjusted to the main tour, Gomez looks a little value. Unfortunately, the price is now 3.8514/5 having shortened a little, which puts me off to an extent.
Conditions should be in Ramos' favour
This was also the case for Albert Ramos who is now 1.511/2 to beat Adrian Mannarino. When I priced this up, the Spaniard was closer to 1.705/7, and I thought that price was really out of line. It's still a bit big, but it's workable to a degree.
Ramos should much prefer slower clay to Mannarino, who tends to do his best work in quicker conditions and the -4.5 games about Ramos is available at 10/11 with the Sportsbook. I think this line is pretty generous and I don't think it will be around at the start of their match.
Thiem versus Cilic the match of the day
Match of the day, in theory, will be Marin Cilic versus Dominic Thiem, with Thiem looking a little short at 1.132/15 against a former top 10 regular. Cilic took a set off Thiem at the US Open and a similar outcome could well be in prospect, with Thiem having not stepped on court in a competitive match since his US Open victory.
We also see Rafa Nadal get his tournament underway, with what looks like - on paper at least - a virtual bye against Egor Gerasimov, while Daniil Medvedev also starts his campaign with a tricky-looking clash against the capable Marton Fucsovics. I wonder how far the Hungarian, Fucsovics, can push Medvedev here, with Medvedev still having plenty to prove on clay, and in slower conditions in general.
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