Roland Garros Picks & Predictions | Friday French Open Analysis, Including Potapova vs Pavlyuchenkova
Robert Prange/Getty. Pictured: Anastasia Potapova.
Looking for Saturday match picks? Click here.
Onto the third round we go at the French Open!
The field has been whittled down to just 32 players in each draw. With a spot in the final 16 and second week of Roland Garros on the line, there's plenty on the line for the remaining players.
Let's take a look at two women's matches happening Friday, with Anastasia Potapova taking on Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Sloane Stephens going toe-to-toe with Yulia Putintseva.
Match times are subject to change. Read here for advice on viewing tennis matches.
Roland Garros Picks
Anastasia Potapova (-167) vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (+138)
6:15 a.m. ET
These odds show a lot of love for the 31-year old still trying to work her way back from injury against her younger compatriot, considering the struggles she's been having and the quality of her first two wins in Paris.
The veteran ball striker has lost badly to the likes of Arantxa Rus and Daria Kasatkina, ran out of steam against Lauren Davis (a really poor loss on clay) and was handed a double bagel (0-6, 0-6 loss) by Iga Swiatek.
This week hasn't done much to dispel my concerns about her form being back. Beating Linda Fruhvirtova is something just about everyone is doing at the moment. Her serve has deserted her and holding serve – especially on slow clay courts – is too tall a task for the youngster. Liudmila Samsonova is a relatively impressive victory, but her fellow Russian is far from at home on slow clay courts, and even then she trailed by a set and had to recover two breaks in the deciding set, winning the final four games of the match to progress.
That also brings up potential fatigue concerns. Pavlyuchenkova is on the wrong side of 30 and even with a day off, her last match passed the three-hour mark.
Now she takes on Potapova, who can hit the ball in a big way in her own right, is having arguably her best season to date and has beaten Taylor Townsend with ease and a strong clay-courter in Mayar Sherif. Her losses on clay this season? Twice to Veronika Kudermetova and once to Aryna Sabalenka. Those are both top-15 players in the world and both had an excellent clay season.
For me, Potapova has to be a much larger favorite than we're seeing at present. Her game is just as big, and we still can't say for certain that Pavlyuchenkova is back to her peak level and the fitness and stamina are on the younger Russian's side as well.
Sloane Stephens (-190) vs Yulia Putintseva (+150)
8:45 a.m ET
Is the Sloane Ranger back?
Years after reaching the Roland Garros final (and losing it in heart-wrenching fashion) and after a few seasons spent in the wilderness, the American appears to have found a gear that we haven't seen since she was contending consistently for Grand Slam trophies.
Though lower-end events, she did win a WTA 125K in Saint Malo, France. She followed that up with a semifinal in Rabat, Morocco. I'd go as far as to say that deep runs in those types of events are impressive in their own way with regards to Stephens. Motivation, or lack thereof, at smaller events was always one of the knocks on her game.
She's also right at home on the slow clay courts. She can play with pace on the forehand or use topspin, and she moves it around the court so well, generating angles with ease. That's what helped her absolutely crush Karolina Pliskova in what was one of the tougher first-round assignments in the women's draw.
Stephens also moves and defends at a very high level, and after her first match in Paris earlier in the week she made it clear this is her favorite tournament and favorite surface.
Taking on Putintseva, the matchup works in her favor as well. The Kazakh doesn't have the requisite weapons to hit through her and with her own rally tolerance improving seemingly by the day, it's hard to see how Putintseva generates enough offense to come away with the win. Her second round win was a strong one, but that was against a big hitter in Qinwen Zheng, who plays a low-margin game and doesn't really think through points all that much. In other words, the total opposite of the task at hand in her match against Stephens.
The aforementioned point construction and angles should serve Stephens well against Putintseva – another player who covers the court and defends exceptionally.
With a higher ceiling talent-wise, strong form and the better all-around game, I'll back Stephens to keep this run going.
Pick: Stephens -3.5 games (-105 via Caesars)