Went ham with eight plays. Plus a carry-over on Klizan from Thursday. I have a real shot to go 7-2 (pending a few things Saturday morning). Who would have possibly guessed that the two losses would both be Rafa Fucking Nadal’s fault?
Everything else went pretty much exactly according to plan. I like that. Finally.
Djere died. Damn, I wanted that one. Djere against Paire in the 4th round? I’d take that all day. And Djere was up 3*-0 in the fifth set. Unreal collapse.
Zverev, KK and, of course, Rafa still live. Hopefully Delpo feels like saving his body for Wimbledon and KK can get past him. I think KK is where I’m going to make my money on these futures now that Djere is out.
There are always blowouts in tennis. Especially in the early rounds of tennis where you can get huge mismatches in talent and experience. So, someone winning by 11 or 12 games across a straight sets, three set, victory is not surprising. The question is was the blowout expected or not? What was the handicap? Well, there have 32 matches through two and half rounds where the moneyline was set at -600 or greater and therefore the spread was -7 or -8 or even bigger. There have been plenty of blowouts so far but, they’ve come in a match like PCB vs ADM where the line as -225 and PCB won by 13 games (don’t you wish you could find those one everyday). In those 32 matches, the favorite has only won by more than 10 games seven times. That’s not great. Less than 25%. If this French Open has proven anything through two and a half rounds, it’s that big name players are not necessarily interested in crushing opponents. They are interested in conserving energy - call it collusion, call an unspoken agreement that they all understand they have to go through Djoker AND Rafa. Or Thiem and Rafa. Or Fed and Djoker. Any which you look at it, these players have to finally be clueing in. Get a break, coast, conserve energy, save up for the semi’s and the finals. Djokovic probably, surely, wins this. Does he cover -10.5 games? I don’t want to find out. Djoker didn’t cover the -10.5 in either of the first two rounds and he didn’t cover it in any of the ten matches he played here in 2017 or 2018. You have to go back to 2016 to find success at that. Pass.
Delpo is wearing knee wrappings, has dropped a set to each of Nic Jarry and Yoshi Nishioka, and, well, he’s just got a crazy history of injury. Thompson’s worst surface is clay and while he has kept it close in his few meetings with top ten talent, one of the few times he got blown out was on clay (18-4 vs Thiem). Thompson has managed two upsets already and played a tiebreak in each match. I suspect Delpo wins this if he is healthy. It also wouldn’t surprise me if Thompson keeps it close. Pass.
I have an outright on Khachanov. So, I need him to win this. But, Khachanov had a surprisingly tough, complicated match with fucking Gregoire Barrere last round. Klizan also scares the hell out of me. I bet on Klizan a lot. He is an under-the-radar stalwart on indoor hards and clay, a truly weird combo. He’s a weird dude. Also, he’s an energizer. People make a lot of having to play across three straight days and it can matter, every once in a while. But, let’s be serious, Klizan makes his living at 250’s. There are no days off there. He starts on a Tuesday, maybe gets a Wednesday off, then has to play Thursday thru Sunday straight. He didn’t make the second round in Madrid or Rome and he took the week off before the French. He’s fine. Klizan and Khachanov have remarkably similar clay court hold/break stats, within 5% in each of the last three years, and they both have a career winning percentage around 55%. If anything I see an over here. I’ll stay away.
Fognini has beaten RBA an incredible seven times, including three times on clay. But, of course, he is Fognini. He could show up and thump RBA again, or he could show up and throw his racquet around a bunch. Neither guy has much track record with going deep at Slam, let alone the French. So, either guy could give in to the moment. Fog dropped a set to both Delbo and Seppi, while RBA has cruised in straight sets both times. These two have almost identical clay stats (within TWO percent across their lengthy careers) and even though Fog has a serious head-to-head advantage, I suspect RBA might pull this off. I’ll pass.
You could argue that Zverev has made a mess of both matches he has played this week. But, hey, look at the bright side, he is still way ahead of last years pace. And why would anyone suspect Lajovic is going to trouble Zverev? Since making the final in Monte Carlo he has exited every tournament in the first round. Lajovic’s two wins this week came against two qualifiers who aren’t exactly tour regulars. Zverev has a decent sized advantage across the last three years in the hold/break categories and he beat Lajovic here last year. I would risk the handicap or the straight sets but, as I just mentioned Zverev can still make a mess of things. That being said, this line is very low. - when they played here last year, Zverev was -900. I’ll double down on the German.
How happy is Dominic Thiem? Verdasco is out. That has to cause a huge sigh of relief. He is faced with Pablo Cuevas though and Pablo is no easy out on clay. These two have played five times and all five have been tightly contested. There is a bunch of tiebreaks in there and a whole bunch of 46,64 type sets. I’ve said a few times that I think Thiem may be under the most pressure here this fortnight. Their clay court stats are not as far off as you might think and Cuevas has shown he can keep up. Additionally, while Thiem has dropped sets to some lesser players on tour, Cuevas has straight rolled. I’ll expect Cuevas to lose a tight one and I’ll grab the plus games.
Monfils is flying through this draw. He hasn’t dropped a set yet, he is as comfortable as any Frenchman at Roland Garros, having made many trips to the quarter-finals here, and he is a 0.600 level winner on clay. Hoang survived Verdasco and may have just benefited from a huge choke job. His lack of experience and ‘the moment’ of playing a fellow Frenchman (probably some sort of idol) on Chatrier in prime time, probably is not going to work in Hoang’s favour. Monfils in three.
Zverev ml/Monfils 3-0, +107
Cuevas +5.5, -120