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2022 French Open Predictions, Analysis: Kubler-Kudla & Zandschulp-Kotov Offer Spots to Find Value (May 22)

2022 French Open Predictions, Analysis: Kubler-Kudla & Zandschulp-Kotov Offer Spots to Find Value (May 22) article feature image
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Paolo Bruno/Getty. Pictured: Botic van de Zandschulp hits a backhand at the Italian Open.

  • Jon Reid has identified two matches with value on Sunday's slate at Roland Garros.
  • Read on for two of his best bets, including Jason Kubler's match with Denis Kudla.

Looking for Monday’s best bets? Click here!

The first round of the French Open means 128 different matches to handicap between the men’s and women’s draws.

It also means that the bookmakers have likely made a mistake on at least a handful of matches. After all, even if they nail the prices on 85% of the matches on the board, that leaves about 19 mistakes.

Let’s take a look at a pair of matches on the men’s side where some value may be found.

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Botic van de Zandschulp (-330) vs. Pavel Kotov (+260)

6:30 a.m. ET

The first match worth discussing is one that could be closer than the odds may appear between 26th-seed Botic van de Zandschulp and qualifier Pavel Kotov.

This time last year, no one would fault the broader tennis community for barely knowing who van de Zandschulp was.

After qualifying in Paris and nearly upsetting Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the second round as a +380 underdog, van de Zandschulp stunned the tennis world by reaching the second week of the US Open.

One can certainly understand why. He’s got a very powerful game and his ability to play consistently from the baseline for a man of his height gives him the necessary tools to be a mainstay on the ATP Tour.

While a deserved favorite in this one, the match could be less straightforward than the odds would suggest.

Pavel Kotov is another player who mixes height and movement pretty well – arguably better than van de Zandschulp.

Kotov’s big serve and more defensive baseline game gives him the surface versatility to make him a threat. What has held Kotov back is his mental game.

He often checks out and/or gives up when things aren’t going his way. That’s what has kept him languishing at the Challenger Tour for a while now.

Having played through qualifiers here and into the main draw of a Grand Slam, however, it’s highly doubtful that Kotov packs it in at the first sign of adversity.

His relentless ball retrieval skills from the baseline and ability to fire some big first serves should keep him competitive against a guy like van de Zandschulp.

If Kotov can keep his head in it, this match is destined to be longer than many may anticipate.

The +2.5 sets market here is all the way up to -180. That’s a little expensive, and it’s hard to see Kotov turning in a 3-0 performance to keep this total under.

A much better price can be had by targeting the set total.

Pick: Over 3.5 sets (-135 at DraftKings)

Jason Kubler (-175) vs. Denis Kudla (+140)

9:30 a.m. ET

The best way to summarize this match would be to say “fade Denis Kudla.” Red clay and the veteran American are like oil and water.

Jason Kubler isn’t exactly a clay-court prodigy, but he’s certainly more adept at playing on the clay and his style is also more likely to produce better results than that of Kudla.

Since the 2019 season, Kudla is just 3-15 in red clay events, with two of those wins coming in Geneva and Munich where there’s some altitude to quicken the conditions.

It’s also not just the slower surface that doesn’t suit his game. Kudla’s success primarily comes on quicker indoor hard courts and on grass. Those surfaces are quicker in court speed and they’re also low-bouncing.

Get Kudla onto higher bouncing and slow red clay courts and it’s a tough combination for him to play through.

On the other hand, Kubler can deal with the clay a bit better. His style is that of a rather consistent baseliner, so the prolonged rallies in slower conditions aren’t going to put him off.

Kubler is able to create space and hit through the court when the chance presents itself, meaning he’s not totally reliant on errors from the other side of the net.

Before the main draw of Roland Garros, Kubler reached the semifinal of a Challenger event in Croatia. He handled some clay court specialists with aplomb and also came through qualifying, giving him a sense of familiarity with the courts and conditions in match play.

In fact, Kubler’s struggles this season on the clay came at the Challenger level on the quicker green clay courts found at American events. That is also the one place Kudla has found any sort of rhythm in the past few seasons on the dirt.

Whether you lay the games at 3.5 or sets at 1.5, there’s value in Kubler getting this done in a somewhat quick fashion.

Pick: Kubler -1.5 sets (-110 at DraftKings)

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