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2018 French Open Thursday Preview: Underdogs Should Start Barking Soon

May 31, 2018 8:30 PM EDT

Not good enough from my two underdog shots on Day 4 at the French Open — although Trungelliti (+170) and Delbonis (+195) both certainly had their chances to swing their matches. Favorite bettors have enjoyed a very profitable start to the tournament, which you rarely see at a Slam.

Of the 14 ATP matches that started Wednesday, only one underdog won (Berrettini, who was only a slight dog at +105). And, Tuesday, only two dogs won. More of the same on the WTA side as well, which is probably even more surprising. Dogs there have gone 31-7 over the past two days. That hasn’t helped our “bargain hunting” handicapping style, but the tournament is still young. I expect the dogs to start barking at a much more regular frequency from here on out.

And, with that, let’s take a deeper look at Thursday’s Day 5 card.


Day 5 Popcorn

ATP

  • Denis Shapovalov (-250) vs. Maxi Marterer (+190)
  • Pablo Cuevas (+120) vs. Kevin Anderson (-150)

We’ll see a battle of young stars when El Shapo and Maxi Marterer face off tomorrow. The two have never met, so it’ll be interesting how their styles contrast — but this should be a fun match to watch, regardless of who you back.

I’m also looking forward to the Cuevas-KA match. Cuevas is a top-15 — maybe top-10 — player on clay when he’s peaking; and KA made the 4R here last year. Get the Orville Redenbacher ready.

WTA

  • Serena Williams (+108) vs. Ashleigh Barty (-121)
  • Bernarda Pera (+109) vs. Daria Gavrilova (-123)

Serena not getting any draw breaks in her first Slam since the 2017 Australian Open. After struggling to pass a first-round test against a big serving lefty, she’ll now need to face a player who will test her footwork — which looked shoddy at best the other day. And as expected, her first serve also didn’t look clean, as she faced eight break points against a subpar returner in Kristyna Plíšková.

Barty plays with more variety than just about anybody on tour. Her backhand slices, in particular, should give a rusty Serena a lot of trouble. The word out of the Barty camp ahead of the tourney was an injured back could keep her from playing, but she didn’t experience any issues in her first round rout. I personally played Barty at -121.

Pera might not be a household name yet, but she can ball on clay — where she went 33-6 last year on the lower levels. During that 2017 dirt run, she made six finals and won three of them. Gavrilova is never an easy out on clay, as the energetic Australian will make her opponents work for it. However, she has not played her best tennis at Slams. After barely pulling out a three-set win over an injured Sorana Cirstea, she now has a Major record of 12-14 and has never advanced past the second round outside of Melbourne. Pera is the play here at plus-money in a true coin flip. – Stuckey

Day 5 Parlay Potential

ATP

  • Kyle Edmund (-250) vs. Marton Fucsovics
  • Fabio Fognini (-400) vs. Elias Ymer

The Edmund-Fucsovics match will surely be a big-hitting affair. I give the edge to Edmund, though, in terms of class and experience at Slams. Fognini takes on Ymer and should feast on the Swede’s serve — which isn’t very strong. As with all Fognini matches, however, know what you’re getting into before you pull the trigger. Fognini matches can get … complicated. But I like him, here.

WTA

  • Caroline Garcia (-615) vs. Shuai Peng
  • Elise Mertens (-675) vs. Heather Watson
  • Simona Halep (-1250) vs. Taylor Townsend
  • Maria Sharapova (-300) vs. Donna Vekic

Enormous clay class differences in the first three matches on what should be an otherwise very competitive and intriguing WTA day. In regards to Sharapova, I expect a much more focused effort after a scare in R1. Plus, Masha has an insane 12-0 record in the second round at the French Open. – Stuckey

Day 5 Underdog Value

ATP

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Credit:

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Samantha Stosur

Follow Daniel J. Scotti on Twitter
@scottipippen

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