2018 French Open Betting Preview: Totals Present Most Value on Sunday
Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports. Pictred: Novak Djokovic
Saturday’s “Popcorn Match of the Day” turned out to be a cracker after all, as Fabio Fognini and Kyle Edmund went the distance on Suzanne Lenglen court.
The first three sets were pretty poor quality — with “Good Fogna” cruising through the first set, only to drop the next two in classic “Bad Fogna” fashion. But the quality of tennis picked up in sets four and five — and our hitter, Fognini, prevailed late in the fifth set with his usual dramatic flair.
But let’s shift gears to Sunday, where we will have four fourth-round matchups to mull over — each of which has Orville Redenbacher potential. In Grand Slam tennis, the fourth round usually presents a turning point in the tournament, as the competition stiffens with the quarterfinals in sight. As a result, the level of tennis usually takes a great leap forward.
And Sunday should be no exception. Let’s take a look at each of the four slated matchups on the ATP side of things before closing with quick WTA thoughts and bets.
From an odds perspective, the Thiem-Nishikori clash might look like the only “close” match on the card, but I don’t expect straight sets in any of the Sunday matches. It could be a nice day for overs across the ATP board.
Karen Khachanov (+240) vs. Sascha Zverev (-333)
Sunday, 5 a.m. ET
H2H: Zverev leads 1-0
Kicking off the action, we’ll have a big hitting affair between Zverev and Khachanov, who has looked good so far in Paris on what I believe to be his best surface. I could see the Russian taking a set or two off Zverev, who is difficult to figure out — especially at Grand Slams. This spot reminds me of the US Open last year — when he lost to Borna Coric in the second round after winning a Masters tournament in Canada (and beating Roger Federer), just a few weeks prior.
I get the impression that Zverev tends to peak before Slams, and — after winning 13 consecutive matches (including two titles in Munich and Madrid) — I worry that Zverev might have peaked too early, yet again. If Zverev gets out in front early, though, he should have the class to take control of the match. But with the firepower of Khachanov, I think this match will play out a lot closer than -333 suggests, especially against a potentially fatigued German who has played ten sets over his first two matches.
Dominic Thiem (-140) vs. Kei Nishikori (+120)
Sunday, not before 6:30 a.m. ET
H2H: Nishikori leads 2-0
Good one, this. While Thiem has made two consecutive semifinals at Roland Garros, I have a funny feeling in my gut about this match. I could very well see Nishikori, a decorated clay courter over the past decade, pulling off the upset.
It’s hard to dispute that Nishikori comes into this one on the better form. Thiem dropped a set in his last match against Matteo Berrettini, as a -2000 favorite, and hit 41 unforced errors to just 30 winners.
Nishikori, on the other hand, went five with peak-Benoit-Paire in his 2R match but has otherwise played clean tennis in Paris (including a straight-sets victory over a resurgent Gillou Simon). If I had to choose, I’d go with Thiem in four or five — but, if this match gets to five sets, it’s hard to go against Kei Nishikori and his history in deciding sets. Keep in mind that the Austrian has never won a set over Kei in two career meetings — one of which came on the dirt.
David Goffin (-500) vs. Marco Cecchinato (+350)
Sunday, not before 8:30 a.m. EST
H2H: Goffin leads 2-0
This match could end up playing out as the most straightforward one of the day. Goffin had to stave off four match points before coming through Gael Monfils in the third round, but he appeared fresh in that fifth set. And the Belgian looks like he has more decent tennis in him.
Cecchinato, meanwhile, has played well this tournament, but it’s hard to see him having the class of weapons to hurt Goffin in a best-of-five match. When the two met last month in Rome on clay — the Italian got off to a fast start, before fading away as the match progressed. (Goffin won the final two sets 6-2 6-2 after losing the first 5-7.)
I could see a similar result again — with Goffin coming through in three or four sets. If Goffin drops the first set, he should be at odds-against money in most live markets — which would be a good time to pull the trigger. Goffin is a slow starter, so he can provide some nice betting opportunities in the live markets.
Novak Djokovic (-400) vs. Fernando Verdasco (+275)
Sunday, not before 10 a.m. ET
H2H: Djokovic leads 10-4
The last match on the men’s side will be featuring former World No. 1 and 12-time Grand Slam champion, Novak Djokovic, and the ever-dangerous shotmaker, Fernando Verdasco.
This match should also play out a lot closer than the line suggests. If Djokovic continues to improve and edge closer to his form of old, he could hit Verdasco off the court rather comprehensively.
During his peak years, Djokovic would smother players like Verdasco. And if he brings his A-game, Nole could win in straight sets. But that’s a tall order. I expect to see his B-game — like we saw in losses against Kyle Edmund in Madrid and Martin Klizan in Barcelona. If so, Verdasco and his punch-first mentality will give him a shot at pulling off the upset.
Personally, I expect Novak to win this match in four — maybe even five sets. But it wouldn’t shock me to see Verdasco take it home. With no value in Novak — and too many question marks surrounding Verdasco — I think the best play for this match is the over 36 games.
- Mihaela Buzarnescu (+120) vs. Madison Keys
- Anett Kontaveit (-133) vs. Sloane Stephens
- Daria Kasatkina (+100) vs. Caroline Wozniacki
The four R16 matches Sunday, on the WTA side, all look to be good matches. I like Daria Kasatkina as a slight dog against Caroline Wozniacki. Especially at that price, as I make Daria a slight favorite. Daria is simply the better player on clay. She’s already beat Caro twice on the Dane’s best surface (hard) and should have the surface advantage in this one.
I also like Annett Kontaveit against Sloane Stephens and Mihaela Buzarnescu against Madison Keys. There aren’t any head-to-heads between either of these matches, but Buzarnescu and Kontaveit are playing more consistent tennis right now. Kontaveit looked really good in her upset win against Petra Kvitova, and Buzarnescu has already knocked out one of the tournament’s favorites in her straight sets victory over Elina Svitolina. — Stuckey