French Open Wednesday Preview: Underdog Shots, Parlay Pieces, More
Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Dominic Thiem
Well, it’s been three days — and we’re still not finished with the first round of the 2018 French Open.
Day 2 was a bit of an unfortunate day for us — as Misha Youzhny (+270) lost out in the fifth set against Malek “Maori” Jaziri, and Frances Tiafoe never showed up at all against compatriot Sam Querrey — but, things went our way on Day 3.
Guido Pella (-110) closed out Joao “Pyscho Sousa” Tuesday morning and Maxi Marterer (-125) took All-American journeyman Ryan Harrison to the woodshed. Our fifth play from Round 1, Jeremy Chardy (+170), holds a commanding lead against Tomas Berdych: up two sets to love, but weather/darkness concerns postponed the result of that one until tomorrow.
But, assuming Chardy tidies up Birdman tomorrow, we’ll find ourselves up a cozy +1.37 units heading into the second round. Also, all of our “First-round Parlay Potentials” got across the finish line (sans Herbert, who’s still in action). Hopefully, some of you guys could stack a few units on the parlay side of things, as well. If not, it’s a loooong tournament with plenty of tennis left.
With another full slate kicking off at 5 a.m. ET from Paris — let’s dig into tomorrow’s card.
Day 4 Popcorn
- Gilles Simon (-120) vs. Sam Querrey (+100)
- Domi Thiem (-400) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (+275)
- Gael Monfils (-167) vs. Martin Klizan (+129)
We’ve got some scintillating matchups tomorrow, including a pick ’em between Gillou and Querrey, a rematch between the beautiful one-handed backhands of Thiem and Tsitsipas, and a clash of flashy players: Monfils and Klizan. Tsitsipas straight-setted Domi a few weeks back in Barcelona — so it’s safe to say Thiem, who has appeared in two consecutive French Open semifinals, will be out for revenge.
- Caroline Dolehide (+255) vs. Madison Keys (-310)
- Alize Cornet (-215) vs. Pauline Parmentier (+189)
Not the most exciting card, but I’m sure we will get plenty of drama and hopefully more dogs biting than we saw on Tuesday. Two of the more intriguing matches will have two women facing off from the same country.
Dolehide-Keys will not only feature two Americans, but both players hail from Illinois. Don’t completely count out Dolehide, a very big hitter like Keys. If she can improve her movement on the red dirt, she has a game suited for it. If you want to see some ball bashing, tune into this one.
They actually previously met in Stanford, where Keys pulled out the win in three sets. Madison’s game can be very erratic, especially on her worst surface, in clay. In fact, the French Open remains the only Slam she has failed to reach the quarterfinals at. Dolehide might be worth a few pennies if you’re looking for a longshot.
A match with the emotional Cornet (who seems to always go three sets) will usually make the popcorn list. She will face her fellow compatriot Pauline Parmentier, who has a 7-1 record on clay in 2018, which includes a title in Istanbul. This one should be a roller coaster. And like most Cornet matches, the over certainly warrants a look. Cornet owns a 2-1 head-to-head record, winning both of their clay matches. However, they haven’t clashed since 2013.
Day 4 Parlay Potential
- Karen Khachanov (-180) vs. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez
- Luca Pouille (-455) vs. Cam Norrie
When the draw was released, the matchup I had circled was a potential 3R battle between Luca Pouille and Karen Khachanov. Both guys are solid favorites ahead of their 2R matchups, and I like both guys to win and face off in the third. A double containing both would pay out -110.
- Julia Putintseva (-155) vs. Jennifer Brady
- Daria Kasatkina (-521) vs. Kirsten Flipkens
For those that follow me on Twitter, I said Poots opened too low at -132. She is now probably priced right so she could serve as a nice parlay piece with a large favorite.
Before her win over Amandine Hesse (which shouldn’t impress anybody), Brady lost seven straight on clay on all levels over the last two seasons. That also marked her first ever win at the French Open. She will be at a severe disadvantage from an experience perspective, as Poots made the quarterfinals in 2016 and the third round in 2017. She eventually lost to Serena and Garbine Muguruza — who have combined to win three of the last five French Open championships.
Kasatkina’s best surface is clay, which happens to be the worst for Flipkens. The Russian just has a much better game on the red dirt. In nine French Open main draw appearances, Flipkens has never advanced past the second round. Meanwhile, Daria owns a 2-0 record in the second round in her only two career tournaments at Roland Garros. For what it’s worth, Kasatkina won their only head-to-head clash in 2016 on a hard court in St. Petersburg. I expect a very confident Kasatkina after her first-round victory over Kaia Kanepi, who had a 2-0 record over the Russian.
Now, let’s get into my three favorite ATP bets for Wednesday before we close with a WTA play to consider.
Day 4 ATP Daily Hitters
Marco Trungelliti (+170) vs. Marco Cecchinato
Wednesday, 5 a.m. ET
I like our road warrior, Marco “Easy Rider” Trungelliti, in this one.
After winning his maiden tour title in Budapest last month, Cecchinato has slumped — losing three of his last five clay matches heading into the French. And, after barely scraping by Marius Copil last round (hardly a titan on clay), I get the feeling that Cecchinato is a vulnerable favorite here.
Trungelliti has a neat little game. Decent spot server. Reliable forehand. He plays with a lot of variety (likes to hit drop shots off either wing). He doesn’t give away many free points — and unless Cecchinato brings his A game, this should be a grueling bloodbath.
With 2018 wins over solid clay courters — such as Jaume Munar, Stefano Travaglia, Eli Ymer, Simone Bolelli, and Renzo Olivio (in French quallies) —he should feel confident about his game. Especially after the warm media coverage he’s received over the past two days since driving up to Roland Garros as a last-minute Lucky Loser.
Expect Trung to play loose with a nothing-to-lose attitude (and a little extra swagger). At +170, I’m happy to bet on the “Cinderella story” unfolding another chapter.
Sam Querrey +100 vs. Gilles Simon
Wednesday, not before 8 a.m. ET
H2H: Simon leads 4-3
Simon leads the H2H between these two, although it’s Querrey who won the most recent two encounters — including a straight set victory last year at the US Open.
In a theoretical sense, Simon has the surface-advantage, although I’m not entirely convinced — that at this point in the Frenchman’s career — he’s most suited by a slow playing court. Simon has really struggled over the past two years to construct points — and even extend points (his usual trademark). As a result, I think the court will actually play into the American’s favor.
Querrey, who has struggled on the dirt so far in 2018, hasn’t had the most luck in draws. Two of his three clay losses this year came at the hands of Guido Pella — our first round hitter — both in three sets. And, while no loss is a particularly “good” loss, going the distance with Guido Pella on the red stuff is surely nothing to scoff at.
After watching Querrey eviscerate Frances Tiafoe, a decent defender, on Monday — I got the sense that Querrey has another round in him. Especially against a guy like Gillou, who he should theoretically bully around.
Also, Simon’s stats in his R1 match against Basilashvili were hardly impressive. For starters, he hit more unforced errors than winners (41:34) — and he also found himself down a break in the fourth set, which could’ve turned ugly had he not retained it.
Things won’t get any easier for the Frenchman Wednesday and — at plus money — I’ll side with Querrey, who tends to play his best tennis at Grand Slams (11-4 last year at Majors). His power and serve should simply be too much for Simon.
Federico Delbonis (+195) vs. Pablo Carreño-Busta
Wednesday, 5:00 a.m. EST
H2H: Delbonis leads 4-1
Delbonis looked menacing in his first round match against Thomaz Bellucci, winning 74% of his first serve points and firing off 36 winners (with only 33 errors). But something else really stood out to me. After Bellucci won the third set (potentially swinging the momentum of the match) — Delbonis didn’t wilt. Instead, the Argentine grabbed control of the match and put Bellu away 6-1 in that fourth set.
That leads me to believe Delbonis has a lot of juice left for this tourney. Plus, he’ll have a chance to play on his terms again in the 2R — against the defensive pusher, PCB.
Carreño got through his first round in four sets as well — but in far less impressive fashion in my mind. PCB sprayed 37 unforced errors against his opponent Jozef Kovalik, a sub-par player on clay. He was also just a couple points away from dropping the fourth set, which could’ve swung the match against his favor.
He’ll have a significantly tougher opponent on Wednesday, and I’m not sure he’s playing at a high enough level to warrant a -240 price tag. Especially considering Delbonis owns a 3-1 record against PCB on clay courts — and 4-1 overall.
Sure, Delbonis is streaky — but he’s given me enough reason to believe this might be the start of one of his patented “hot streaks.” At +195 — I’ll roll the dice.
Wednesday WTA Outlook
I said it right when the line came out — Ekaterina Makarova (+100) should not be an underdog on clay vs. Barbora Strycova. I actually make the Russian -125 in this spot.
Before her less than impressive first-round win over Kurumi Nara (in three tight sets), Strycova had lost eight straight matches this season — including all four on clay. Her best career result at the French Open came in 2016 when she made the third round. That marked her only third-round appearance at Roland Garros in 11 career appearances.
Strycova actually leads their H2H 4-3, but Makarova won their only match on clay. (Although that came in 2006 at 25k Gorizia so you can essentially throw that out.)
Makarova didn’t come in on the best form, but she simply raises her level at Slams. The three-time Grand Slam doubles champion has made the fourth round twice at Roland Garros (which Strycova has never done). Since 2011, Makarova has made at least the fourth-round in 14 of the 29 Slams she has played in, including four quarterfinal appearances. Over that same period, Strycova has only made the fourth round a total of four times, including only one quarterfinal appearance.
The Russian also has a 2-1 head-to-head record at Majors — all of which came at Wimbledon on Strycova’s favorite surface. I’ll trust the better Slam player at +100 against the Czech on clay.
Besides Makarova, I don’t see much on the WTA side — outside of that aforementioned parlay and a potential shot on Dolehide. Good luck!