WTA French Open Friday R3 Betting Preview: Underdog Value Abound
Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Veronica Kudermetova
- French Open third-round betting action will kick off on Friday at 5 a.m. ET in Paris.
- Brett Farrenkopf sees plenty more WTA underdog betting value on Friday's French Open card. He shares his four favorite.
For good or for bad, this Friday’s French Open card on the women’s side looks ripe with opportunity in my eyes. There is underdog value all over the board and four in particular stuck out to me. Let’s start with one that cashed for us in each of the first two rounds.
Veronika Kudermetova (+125) vs Kaia Kanepi
Friday, 5 a.m. ET
Hopefully, Kudermetova can continue her fine form and cash for a third-straight time for us at the French Open. On Wednesday, she fought through a shaky first set before easily beating Zarina Diyas, 7-5 6-1. She meets a much more difficult opponent in Kaia Kanepi, but she has the game to pull off another upset.
Kanepi has never really excelled on this surface or focused her schedule around clay-court events. Prior to this year, her last win in Paris came in 2013.
She’s also struggled through injuries over the past five years, and her clay results this year are underwhelming. The Estonian owns a 2-2 record as a favorite and all of her matches have been fairly close.
One of Kanepi’s 2019 clay wins did come over Kudermetova 7-6(4) 6-3 back in April. Kanepi was a -208 favorite that day, so oddsmakers obviously see this match being much tighter as do I.
Kudermetova will have to play aggressively against Kanepi, who can pile up winners and control points when allowed. However, Kanepi won’t move much off the baseline or around the court, which Kudermetova can take advantage of with drop shots.
Hopefully, the revenge factor gives Kudermetova extra motivation in the biggest match of her career. I make her a +120 underdog, so I don’t see a ton of value from a pure numbers standpoint. However, I’m fond of Kudermetova’s talent and think she has the ability to step up on the biggest stages.
Petra Martic (+145) vs Karolina Pliskova
Friday, 5 a.m. ET
Martic played perhaps the match of the tournament when she drilled crowd-favorite Kristina Mladenovic 6-2 6-1 on Wednesday. She dominated on return, winning 29/49 points (59%) including an impressive 11/14 (79%) second serve return points.
Friday will present a completely different serving beast in Karolina Pliskova, who annually tops the WTA Tour in aces. Pliskova has made the third-round with ease in Paris, but Martic will be a major step up in class.
These two met in Miami earlier this year and Pliskova served Martic off the court. Pliskova had an ace rate of over 12%. If that percentage can normalize closer to 8-9%, Martic should survive. Clay should even this match up since Martic has a game better suited for this surface since she has superior movement.
Martic can also feature a wider array of shots that will move Pliskova around the court. That will hinder the Czech’s ability to stand on the baseline and hit flat balls through the court.
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Pliskova has really evolved her game since obtaining Conchita Martinez as a coach. She does not rely solely on her serve anymore, and she has added more margin for error in her groundstrokes. However, I think Martic can frustrate her on red clay.
I have Martic priced as a +130 underdog. Perhaps Pliskova won’t be the serve-bot she has been as over the past month. Regardless, Martic should still get balls back in play and hopefully extend rallies long enough to win points and ultimately the match. I think her variety will be the difference.
Polono Hercog (+267) vs Sloane Stephens
Friday, 8:30 a.m. ET
I’m a big fan of Hercog’s game on clay. She’s won a title on clay already in 2019 and has the wide repertoire of shots to succeed on this surface.
Obviously, she’s taking a big step up in competition against Sloane Stephens. Plus, Hercog is just 2-12 in her career versus Top-20 ranked players on Tour on clay. Her last top-20 win came back in 2012 against Marion Bartoli. It’s been awhile.
Hercog did play a tight match against Stephens earlier this month in Madrid, losing 6-2 7-6(4). The second set involved high-level tennis from both players and could’ve went either way. Hercog can take plenty of positives from that performance.
I was hoping for an opportunity to fade Stephens earlier than the third-round but this will do. Stephens beat an inferior opponent in Sara Sorribes Tormo on Wednesday but struggled holding serve in the second set. She only won 15/36 (42%) of her service points. That rate would spell doom against Hercog.
Given her class, Slam pedigree and 3-0 H2H record, Stephens is the rightful favorite but this line is simply too high. I make Hercog +205, so I will certainly back the underdog here. I’d also take a look at the over 20 games in what should be a back-and-forth affair.
Viktoria Kuzmova (+135) vs Johanna Konta
Friday, 10:30 a.m. ET
I’m going back to the well with a Konta clay fade. But unlike the first round, I’m backing a player with loads of talent in Viktoria Kuzmova. She can be a bit erratic, but Kuzmova has the ability to beat top tier players as she did earlier this year in Dubai against Kiki Bertens in a third set tiebreaker.
Kuzmova will also benefit from essentially having three days off after she played only three games on Wednesday before Bertens retired. On Monday, Kuzmova played a brilliant match versus a difficult French opponent in Alize Cornet. Despite Kuzmova’s a subpar serve, she still compiled 31 winners to just 25 unforced errors.
Meanwhile, Konta had a three-set grind on Wednesday versus an inferior opponent in Lauren Davis. Despite her promising results on clay this season, I will still fade Konta on the red dirt. Her cracks started to shown in that match but Davis couldn’t complete the comeback.
Kuzmova will present a completely different challenge, as unlike Davis, she can hit the ball through the court with power. Kuzmova also moves much better on clay. If the Slovakian can merely get her first serve in at a 60% clip, she has a great chance for the upset.
I have Kuzmova priced as a +125 underdog. I fully expect Konta to regress more toward the performance we’ve seen on clay over the past three years.