2023 French Open Previews: Best Bets For Tsitsipas vs Schwartzman, Hurkacz vs Varillas
Photo by Andy Cheung/Getty Images. Pictured: Stefanos Tsitsipas
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The third round of the French Open begins on Friday, and I'm looking at two matches for my best bets.
I'll start with Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Diego Schwartzman before targeting Hubert Hurkacz vs. Juan Pablo Varillas.
Dive in below to get 2023 French Open previews and best bets for Friday.
Match times are subject to change. Read here for advice on viewing French Open matches.
French Open Previews
Stefanos Tsitsipas (-800) vs Diego Schwartzman (+550)
9:30 a.m. ET
There’s been a lot of talk about the balls at Roland Garros this season and how it favors players who prefer a slower surface and can also generate easy power.
Daniil Medvedev had some comments about them after his five-set loss to Thiago Seyboth Wild.
Medvedev on the balls. "In my opinion, players who have like, I don't know how even to say it, but like a wrist game, like my opponent today, like Carlos, I think Stefanos a little bit, have big advantage with these balls, because they can create easy power, which I don't have."
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) May 30, 2023
Notice Medvedev mentions Tsitsipas, and I think he’s 100% right based on how the Greek hit the ball in his first two matches, especially in round 2 against Roberto Carballes Baena.
This slower surface – and different balls – will only help Tsitsipas on his backhand wing. But now to this particular matchup against Diego Schwartzman.
It’s well known if you follow tennis closely that Schwartzman entered this event in horrible form. He was 5-14 on the season and had lost his last five matches. It doesn’t matter that he prefers the clay courts, as the veteran has been awful anywhere.
Maybe something has clicked for Schwartzman – he’s won six straight sets since dropping his first two against Bernabe Zapata Miralles in the first round – but until I see it against a quality opponent, I’m all for fading the Argentine.
History also shows this should be a relatively easy match for the Greek. Tsitsipas owns the head-to-head against Schwartzman 4-2, and has cruised against him in the last two meetings. He also has beaten Diego twice on clay, including a 6-2, 6-1 victory back in 2018 in Barcelona.
I think he rolls here and reaches the round of 16 in Paris.
Pick: Stefanos Tsitsipas -6.5 games (-130 via DraftKings)
Hubert Hurkacz (-260) vs Juan Pablo Varillas (+210)
9:35 a.m. ET
It hasn’t been an easy road to the third round of Roland Garros for Hurkacz, as the 13-seed defeated both David Goffin and Tallon Griekspoor in five sets.
Meanwhile, Hurkacz’s opponent has been the comeback kid in Paris.
Varillas rallied down two sets to none against qualifier Juncheng Shang and Roberto Bautista Agut to win his first two Roland Garros main draw matches of his career.
Fitness is obviously a concern for both players heading into the third round, but I’m actually willing to back the underdog in this spot.
While Varillas owns an Elo rating of 62 on clay (which is 16 spots lower than Hurkacz), it’s his best surface. He owns a 47.2 winning percentage on the surface for his career and reached the semifinals in Buenos Aires earlier this season, defeating Lorenzo Musetti and Dominic Thiem in the process.
Hurkacz obviously is the better overall player, but his worst surface is clay. Also, look at his results during this clay court season; his best win came against Richard Gasquet, and that was a tight three-set battle in Madrid.
There’s some concern regarding Varillas’ injury history, as he dealt with a back injury that forced him to pull out of Lyon last week and dealt with a knee issue earlier this season.
However, with a chance to reach the round of 16 at Roland Garros and the way he performed in the final three sets against RBA, I don’t expect this to be a major factor.
And, despite Hurkacz’s clear advantage on serve, there have been some flashes of concern at points in this tournament. That was especially the case in the first round against Goffin, when he only won 57% of his first service points.
Varillas is also 44th on the Tour in Return Rating on clay over the last 52 weeks while owning a ranking of 46 in % break points converted.
Like yesterday with Guido Pella, we don’t need Varillas to win — just to keep it within 4.5 games.