2021 French Open Odds & Picks: 3 Sunday First-Round Matches With the Most Betting Value (May 30)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images. Pictured: Corentin Moutet.
The French Open is finally upon us. The top men and women in the world will hit the red clay at Roland Garros in Paris, duking it out for one of the games’ most prestigious honors.
With action getting underway on Sunday morning, I see particular value in a few matches:
Egor Gerasimov vs. Enzo Couacaud
Start Time (approx.): 5:00 a.m. ET
This is the first tennis tournament I’ve had the pleasure of covering at The Action Network, but I’d like to anoint myself the resident Egor Gerasimov fader. The Belarusian packs a real punch with his serve, but that’s not very important on the red clay, where the ball doesn’t skid and reward power like it does on a hardcourt or grass.
What tends to matter in these matches are your groundstrokes, and in that department Gerasimov is very poor.
Not only that, Gerasmiov enters the second slam of the season with incredibly poor form, winning just two of his last 10 matches. Those wins came over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who’s nearing retirement, and Guido Pella, whose mind seems to be retired at the moment with the way he’s playing. I think I could beat those two guys.
Couacaud will be playing in his first main draw at Roland Garros, where we should see about a 35% capacity crowd. The Frenchman should get a nice boost from the paying fans, who have listed some french players to incredible heights in years’ past. He’s been grinding away in the Challenger tournaments, and just knocked off a tough cookie in Tomas Etcheverry, who’s been playing spectacular tennis this year, before coming through qualifying and taking down another talented clay player in Leo Mayer.
You might look at the discrepancy in the rankings and think you’re getting a good deal on Gerasimov on plus odds, but I’ll happily lay down a little juice at DraftKings to take the guy with home court advantage, who I’d make a -155 favorite on a neutral clay court.
Pick: Couacaud -141
Pablo Andujar vs. Dominic Thiem
Start Time (approx.): 6:15 a.m. ET
Anyone who’s been watching Thiem since he captured his maiden Grand Slam last fall would tell you something’s not right with him. Perhaps it’s a minor injury that he’s playing through, maybe it’s the mental hangover from finally climbing to the top of the men’s game and breaking through the barrier set by Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, or it could be a combination of the two.
Whatever it is, I don’t think many expect the Austrian to make a deep run in Paris, where he’s been one of the three best players in the draw going on probably years now.
Thiem has hit a wall, going just 4-3 on the clay this year and falling most recently to Cam Norrie in his first match at the ATP 250 in Lyon, an opponent whose confidence on the clay has grown in 2021 but still someone who shouldn’t have the game to hold a candle to the World No. 4. Thiem has also lost to Lorenzo Sonego and been on the brink of defeat against Marton Fucsovics and John Isner, names that you’d never expect peak Thiem to have issues with.
At any rate, I’ll be looking to fade Thiem all tournament long. That starts on Sunday with Andujar, who has lost his last three matches to Thiem on the clay after winning their first meeting back in 2014. Andujar is a skilled player on the surface and has done a lot of winning so far this clay season, even taking down Federer (or whatever’s left of him).
I expect Andujar to hang around against Thiem, whose return games have been weak and lethargic. Therefore, I think this game spread is worth attacking. The best odds can be found at FanDuel as of Saturday night.
Pick: Pablo Andujar +8.5 games (-120)
Corentin Moutet vs. Laslo Djere
Start Time (approx.): 8:30 a.m. ET
If you’ve never watched Moutet before, you will be in for a real show in this match.
There may not be a better racquet-smasher in the game right now, and his self-dialogue is second to none. He’s an unpredictable and at times hilarious player to watch, but above all else he does have plenty of talent, particularly on clay.
Moutet is another French player I expect to get a nice boost from the crowd, in front of which he’s won three matches in three main-draw appearances at the French Open. He’s also coming into this one in pretty good form with a big win over his good friend Denis Shapovalov just a few weeks ago, and he also took home the title at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown this week. (For those who don’t know, this is an exhibition tournament with rules that differ from traditional tennis, but the event featured some of the most talented players in the world and also was on the clay, giving Moutet some great practice for Roland Garros.)
I’m not telling you to put much stock into his UTS win, but it certainly won’t hurt him to come off that much quality tennis. He’s going to have a very difficult time getting through one of the stronger clay players in Laslo Djere, who’s also having a nice go of it this season on clay, but I see value here in backing Moutet with his spectacular shot-making ability. Djere brings power groundstrokes to the table, but he can be cracked by a returner as good as Moutet and should score the majority of points that Moutet brings to the net.
I’ll take the guy coming in hot with great feel over Djere, who can be an error machine at times. The highest number on Moutet is at FanDuel, as of Saturday night.
Pick: Moutet +114