2021 French Open Odds & Picks: 3 Monday First-Round Matches With the Most Betting Value (May 31)
Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images. Pictured: Alexander Bublik.
The first round of the French Open rolls on Monday, with the top men and women in the world hitting the red clay at Roland Garros in Paris to battle it out for one of the games’ most prestigious honors.
With action resuming on early Monday morning, I see particular value in a few matches:
Francisco Cerundolo vs. Thiago Monteiro
Start Time (approx.): 5:00 a.m. ET
A fast riser on the clay over the past two seasons and a participant in the third round at Roland Garros in 2020, 27-year-old Thiago Monteiro hit a wall in 2021, going 5-9 on the clay and losing five matches in a row between March 3-May 5.
Though he’s won just one of his past four matches since that point, Monteiro has been worlds more competitive, pushing some very in-form clay players like Frederico Delbonis, Laslo Djere and Tommy Paul to the brink. He’s been one of the more consistent clay players since the start of 2019, and it appears another run is right around the corner the way he’s commanding his groundstrokes.
Monteiro has a few advantages coming into this match against Francisco Cerundolo. He’ll have the edge in experience, first and foremost, playing in the main draw at Roland Garros for the third time and in the main draw of a Grand Slam for the ninth time. Cerundolo, 22, has had a run mirroring Monteiro’s over the past couple of years, but he only graduated from the Challenger level this season and has never played in a Grand Slam.
I also think these slightly cooler conditions in the early morning will suit Monteiro, who has more strength which should prove valuable with the clay so heavy. These conditions will also mirror last year’s more closely, when the French Open was played in the cool fall weather.
Put it this way: If this match were staged four months ago, Monteiro would be a -240 favorite here at the bare minimum. You’re getting a steep discount because of his recent form, but I believe the signs are there that he’s ready to come back with a vengeance. You can find the best line on Monteiro over at bet365.
Pick: Monteiro -110
Max Marterer vs. Filip Krajinovic
Start Time (approx.): 5:00 a.m. ET
Krajinovic is one of the more perplexing players on tour. The consensus is that he’s got the talent to be one of the world’s top 20 — maybe even top 15 — players. He’s had some spectacular performances at some of the biggest regular season tournaments of the year, including last year’s run to the Rotterdam and Montpellier semis, where he lost to eventual champion Gael Monfils both weeks, or his two finals appearances in 2019. He’s also proven himself on clay over his career, where he’s got a 263-117 record, including exhibitions and lower-level matches.
With that said, neither of those things will stand to help him here. For starters, Krajinovic has a reputation of falling short in grand slams, when the lights shine the brightest, and he’s only made it out of the first round at Roland Garros once, in 2019.
Second, I’ve never seen a player with a better clay pedigree look worse during a clay season than Krajinovic, who has appeared flat-out uncomfortable on the court over the past month or so. He’s gone just 4-5, losing three straight matches.
Unlike Monteiro I see no reason to believe things will turn here for Krajinovic.
Max Marterer isn’t exactly the model of consistency, but he’s always had high expectations due to his talent level, and he’s still just 25 with his best years ahead of him on the court. He comes into this one having ripped through qualifiers, and I think there’s a ton of value in taking him not only to keep things close here, but to win. DraftKings offers great odds on his game spread, and him to win the match outright.
Pick: Marterer +4.5 Games +124 | Marterer +175
Alexander Bublik vs. Daniil Medvedev
Start Time (approx.): 7:15 a.m. ET
Fading the World No. 2 in the first round of a Grand Slam? What is this blasphemy?
Well, it’s not as crazy as it sounds. The thing is, Medvedev has been beefing with red clay for a while now, going 1-4 on the surface over the past two years including a first-round exit last year at Roland Garros. In fact, in his four appearances here at the French Open, he’s never won! That seems impossible, considering at least early on in his career he was having some level of success on clay.
Medvedev has been seen slashing at the clay during his matches, and yelled “What can I do, man, this court is AWFUL, man!” during a loss in Rome to Aslan Karatsev. “On this surface, I have no chance.”
He’s not wrong. Medvedev’s game is predicated on his ability to push players back off the baseline and slowly wear his opponents down until he can hit through them with his flat groundstrokes. The problem is that unlike on hardcourts, his shots don’t skid past his opposition but hang up a bit longer for them. This frustrates Medvedev into an error, as does the fact that this surface doesn’t bring with it consistent bounces.
Another thing that should bother Medvedev here is Bublik. The Kazakh has lost both meetings between the two, but this will be the first time the two have played in five years. In that time, Bublik has sculpted his unique and unrivaled talent into a very solid and imposing game. He’s also gotten considerably better on clay, learning how to use his exceptional touch to his advantage.
Bublik seems to get better and better every time we see him, and while Medvedev has looked slightly better on clay lately, I’m still not ready to believe. I think the World No. 37 will play mind games with Medvedev, who will feel like everything in the world is working against him in this one.
There’s incredible value on this match, with the biggest number coming at FanDuel, and I recommend snatching it.
Pick: Bublik +205