French Open Odds, Analysis, Predictions: Look For Aljaz Bedene to Push Christopher O’Connell (May 22)

French Open Odds, Analysis, Predictions: Look For Aljaz Bedene to Push Christopher O’Connell (May 22) article feature image

Mark Brown/Getty. Pictured: Aljaz Bedene hits a forehand at the Miami Open.

  • An early-morning match awaits Aljaz Bedene and Christopher O'Connell.
  • The Aussie is a hefty favorite against the tour veteran.
  • Kenny Ducey evaluates the matchup and discusses why Bedene isn't getting enough credit from oddsmakers.

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Aljaz Bedene vs. Christopher O'Connell Odds

O'Connell Odds-330
Bedene Odds+255
Total35.5 (-120/+100)
Time5 a.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. For tips on watching tennis matches, click here.

Aljaz Bedene is still on the comeback trail, but no one seems to care. He's yet again a long shot to win despite years of sustained success on clay courts and plenty of wins at the French Open.

Christopher O'Connell enters in the middle of a solid clay-court season, but almost all of his wins have come at the Challenger level, where he hasn't had to face much competition at all.

Is there value to be found in this obscure first-round matchup? I believe there is.

Bedene Improving in New Campaign

If you're unfamiliar with Bedene — and most are — allow me to briefly fill you in.

For years, Bedene was one of the peskiest players on tour and a perennially-tough out on all surfaces. The bulk of his success has come on clay, where he's amassed an impressive 301-133 record across all levels.

Bedene had to deal with injuries last season and because of this he decided to take a total of eight months off.

The world No. 175 played his final match of 2021 on the clay in Umag, where he lost in a lopsided affair to Marco Cecchinato, and he re-emerged with a protected ranking at Indian Wells this season.

By no means is Bedene washed up. He's just 32 and still possesses one of the best serves on tour for a guy who's not a skyscraper.

The free points can be very valuable on clay where long rallies are common and stamina is key. It'll be particularly important for a guy still playing his way into match shape.

Bedene is just 1-4 this season, but his one win did come on the clay. He nearly stole a set off of Kamil Majchrzak in his first match back, losing the second 7-5, then he did manage to take a set off of Ugo Humbert in a very close first-round encounter in Miami.

After beating Mikhail Kukushkin in Belgrade, he was rolled by the talented Fabio Fognini before taking a set off of Soonwoo Kwon in a loss last week.

The bottom line is that he could easily be 3-2 this season, and Bedene seems to be improving by the week.

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O'Connell Lacking Clay-Court Prowess

O'Connell is Australian, and without much red clay down under most Aussies fail to establish themselves as good players on the surface.

The 27-year-old is an exception, though, with a 154-74 record on the dirt across all levels in his career.

O'Connell has been dominant at the ATP Challenger level, but here in the ATP main draws he's been rather unimpressive. There's a reason he's 27 and still grinding out Challenger tournaments, and that's because he's never been able to translate the success and stick on tour.

With just a 7-18 all-time record on clay at the main level and a 2-5 record this season despite a 21-10 overall record at all levels, the disparity in O'Connell's level on the surface is clear.

The Aussie is tall with a big one-handed backhand that can help him hit winners to end points quickly against slower movers. In theory this would make him this a good matchup, but in reality his groundstrokes lack any sort of consistency and with that O'Connell has become more known for his errors than anything.

He's also failed to serve out sets and matches many times over in Grand Slams and could see his nerves get the best of him here.

Betting Value

Betting on tennis — and on Grand Slams in particular — can be incredibly lucrative because of matches like this.

It's not likely there will be a large amount of money pouring in on Aljaz Bedene, and along those lines it's unlikely oddsmakers can offer a very sharp line in a match like this.

I think Bedene is incredibly undervalued. He's got an excellent serve which should keep sets close, and his track record here at Roland Garros gives him a very fair chance to win this match. Bedene has won three matches here in the last two years and I think he can win this one.

With that, I'll happily grab the 5.5 games, and I'd recommend you sprinkle a little on the moneyline.

Pick: Aljaz Bedene +5.5 games (-120)

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