Wawrinka shows plenty of fight to progress
Yesterday, we discussed the difficulties in assessing the current level of Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem, two previously illustrious players who have had a lot of time away from the tour due to injury and not impressed in comeback matches prior to this tournament.
Wawrinka answered these questions and showed he still has the fight to succeed, getting the job done the hard way against the American big-server, Reilly Opelka.
At a set and 3-4* down, not many would have had much faith in the Swiss fighting back against one of the best servers on tour, but he did just that to set up a winnable round two clash with Laslo Djere.
Should Wawrinka get past that, Novak Djokovic potentially waits in the last 16 if the world number one gets past Aslan Karatsev this afternoon.
Thiem's losses a concern
As for Thiem, who faced Fabio Fognini, he slipped to his fifth defeat out of five matches in his comeback this season, and again failed to win a set in the process. This makes it 1-10 in sets for Thiem this year, only able to take a set against John Millman - hardly a noted clay courter - in Barcelona.
While many would have expected it to take some time for Thiem to recover previous levels, these continued straight-set losses will be of real concern. The French Open, starting in several weeks, looks to be too soon for him to make a significant impression.
Norrie expected to ease past Nardi
Most of the remaining first-round matches look pretty clear-cut in terms of who is anticipated to win, with Brit Cameron Norrie among those who are heavy favourites.
He's just 1.162/13 against the Italian wild-card Luca Nardi, an 18 year old who has just broken into the top 200 and is only featuring in his second main tour match.
Cerundolo faces Isner in battle of contrasting styles
Competitive round one matches include Diego Schwartzman versus Miomir Kecmanovic, with Schwartzman looking like the justified slight favourite, while there's a battle of contrasting styles with big-serving John Isner facing return-oriented Francisco Cerúndolo.
While Isner's style isn't necessarily suited to clay, he's been fairly effective on it over the years. He has a pretty positive record in recent times on the surface, so even though Cerundolo should be more at home on medium-paced clay, the duo look pretty evenly matched statistically, even with different approaches. Isner is [ 1.98] to win, which looks about right to me.
Davidovich Fokina looks a false underdog
This year has seen the meteoric rise of one Spaniard, Carlos Alcaraz, but another Spanish player has also impressed. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina has made his way into the world's top 30, and reached the final of the Monte Carlo Masters in April in a career breakthrough.
Today, Fokina faces Felix Auger-Aliassime, who picked up a first round bye, and both year-long and season-long clay data gives the Spanish clay-courter the edge.
Auger-Aliassime has the higher reputation and all-surface ability, but on clay, I'm still not hugely sold. Considering this, Davidovich Fokina looks to me to be a slightly false underdog at the current [2.18 ].
A couple of other round two matches look pretty evenly matched, with two players in particular, Denis Shapovalov and Christian Garin, looking generously priced at first glance when I ran my eye
over the market lines.
However, when looking a bit deeper at the data, I realised that their prices look about right against talented but inconsistent opposition in Nikoloz Basilashvili and Emil Ruusuvuori, respectively.