2022 French Open Predictions, Odds: Lucas Pouille Vulnerable on Home Soil (May 24)
Clive Brunskill/Getty. Pictured: Lucas Pouille hits a backhand at the Madrid Open.
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In a unique circumstance to the French Open, we’re still in round one despite being in the third day of the main draw.
The final 20 matches for the men’s draw, as well as the final 20 for the women will be played out on Tuesday in the French capital.
Let’s dig into a pair of matches from the men’s draw.
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Lucas Pouille (-114) vs. Zdenek Kolar (-105)
10 a.m. ET
First up, a match between a man who once reached the heights of being a top-10 player in the world.
Pouille used a blend of big hitting, athleticism and consistency to reach that point. He’ll be battling a Challenger Tour clay-court specialist whose style is predicated in baseline solidity and very few unforced errors.
The key here is that this matched is being priced up for Pouille more on his reputation than his actual play on court.
His clay court track record since his return from injury (from which he will likely never truly get back to his best form from) has been abysmal. He’s shown flashes on the whole, but apart from a stunning victory over Karen Khachanov in Madrid (played at altitude), it’s been a miserable run for the 28-year-old.
Pouille has been dispatched in straight sets by Roberto Carballes Baena and beaten in a third set tiebreak against Cuevas.
Martin Cuevas, not the much-more-talented Pablo. In a warmup event last week, he was tuned up by Oscar Otte. The fitness and endurance just aren’t there for the Frenchman at the moment and that spells trouble.
That holds particularly true when you factor in his opposition. Kolar is a Challenger Tour journeyman. The thought of him beating Pouille on any surface a few years ago would’ve drawn hysterical laughter from the tennis community.
Here, however, he’s found the perfect storm. A long format, against an opponent struggling for form, on a surface that demands a physical level he likely doesn’t have. This is a phenomenal opportunity for the Czech veteran to find his way through to the second round.
Don’t be too worried if Pouille jumps out the early lead. His serve and groundstrokes will be tough for Kolar when they’re on.
This won’t be a totally one-sided affair, but Kolar should be a favorite here, and not a pick ’em simply because of who is opponent once was.
Pick: Kolar ML (-105 with FanDuel)
Oscar Otte (-179) vs. Roberto Carballes Baena (+146)
5 a.m. ET
Another matchup for Tuesday’s action pits a rather mercurial player with a fair amount of talent against a rock-solid baseliner that is all-too-happy to drag points and games out as long as possible.
Oscar Otte at his peak is a really fun watch. Thanks to his height, he possesses a big serve and he’s got impressive groundstrokes.
Otte’s game is much more fluid than most that are 6’4, though. The problem for Otte is the consistency. His tour-level hold plus break percentage across surfaces in 2022 tells a pretty good story. It sits at 103%, which is decent, but still not likely indicative of his talent level.
The lapses in his play are consistent and in a format like best-of-five tennis that rewards consistency over everything, that is a potentially fatal flaw.
As for his opponent, Carballes Baena is more the opposite. Content to work the ball side-to-side and wait out errors from frustrate opponents, his consistency is something that could be rewarded in these conditions and in this format.
He managed to take out a similarly talented Denis Shapovalov in the opening round here a few years ago in a thrilling five-setter.
The Spaniard’s form is also inspiring. While just a Challenger event, he enters having won in Tunis last week.
Nine of the 10 sets he won were by a scoreline of 6-2 or better. The confidence and form are there for Carballes Baena, even if they were built up at a lower level. Having a full two days to travel, recover and practice as well alleviates any concerns over potential fatigue playing into this one.
The key for Carballes Baena will be to ensure his returns find some depth. When he does struggle, it tends to be because he leaves balls a tad short, and opponents are able to capitalize and end the points sooner, rather than later.
Nonetheless, the value lies with RCB.
Pick: Carballes Baena ML (+146 with FanDuel)