French Open Round 2 Odds & Pick: Reilly Opelka vs. Jaume Munar (Wednesday, June 2)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images. Pictured: Reilly Opelka
Reilly Opelka vs. Jaume Munar Odds
|Time||Wednesday, approx. 9 a.m. ET|
|Odds as of Tuesday and via DraftKings|
There are currently zero American men ranked inside the top-30 for the first time in tennis’ Open Era. The current crop of players, generally speaking, lack the elite athleticism and well-roundedness. They rely on big serves and forehands. There are many theories that attempt to explain those developmental shortcomings. Maybe it’s the fact that hard courts have a near-monopoly on court surface in the United States?
The rise of Spanish tennis dominance is a point for red clay. Since the mid-2000s, players from the clay-loving country of Spain have crowded the top-100. Note: Rafael Nadal has existed. Roland Garros has been a home away from home for the Spaniards, who often gain advantages in baseline consistency and movement.
Among Wednesday’s second round slate of matches in Paris is a match that perfectly embodies the dynamic between Spanish and American tennis in 2021.
The 23-year old draws low hanging fruit comparisons to John Isner for his 6’ 11” frame and booming serve. However, Opelka is less forehand-dominant, more patient from the back of the court and a better mover than Isner.
Opelka has been in horrible form for most of 2021, attempting to fix a technical issue with his forehand while suffering five consecutive first-round defeats. He ended the losing streak in emphatic fashion by making the semifinal in Rome without dropping a set. He ultimately lost to Nadal. Rome results predict Roland Garros success better than any of the lead-ups because of the slow conditions and the close proximity in dates.
Opelka kicked off his French Open with a straightforward victory over World No. 108 Andrej Martin. The American didn’t serve as well as he’s capable of but broke his opponent’s serve seven times. It was a great example of why Opelka is more than just a server, as he led in rallies over 9 shots 11-4.
Munar is an exaggerated version of a clay court specialist. His best quality is his fighting spirit which is complemented by superb defense, consistency and cardio. What Munar lacks is firepower. His backhand is a safe space for opponents and his forehand is neutralized by the game’s better movers.
Munar is having a very nice season for himself. He has won two clay court titles at the Challenger level and made a final in Marbella. He followed that up by making the final in Marbella’s tour-level event, plus recently made the semifinal in ATP 250 Parma. Overall, Munar is an impressive 29-11 on the red stuff in 2021.
His first round match against Australian Jordan Thompson was a four-set win. Thompson is not good on clay and had dropped four straight matches. The fact that Thompson took a set was a mild surprise.
Reilly Opelka vs. Jaume Munar Best Bet
Munar is exceptional at forcing his opponents to come up with high-level tennis in order to win. This is reflected in his outstanding consistency in beating lower-ranked opponents who are less likely to play aggressive tennis with enough consistency to beat the Spaniard. Munar is 23-5 against players outside the top-100 this season.
His record crashes to 6-6 when those opponents are inside the top-100. He’s 2-6 against the top-50, with one of the “wins” coming on a Benoit Paire retirement. Munar’s mistake-free game makes him a lock to beat inferior opponents, but his lack of weapons makes him just as much of a lock to lose against superior opponents.
Is Opelka playing a top-50 level on clay right now? That seems like a safe bet following the run in Rome. He beat Richard Gasquet, Lorenzo Musetti, Aslan Karatsev and Fredrico Delbonis. All four of those men are in the second round at Roland Garros. Karatsev is among the top-10 favorites to win the title. Opelka’s forehand confidence is back, and so is his aggressive baseline game.
The American has a massive edge in serving and Munar might be surprised with how well Opelka hangs in the rallies. Overall, I’ll take the player who has a proven top-50 level against a player who struggles to rise up to that caliber.
Pick: Reilly Opelka -125