Was Stanimal/Tsitty the match of the year? Early returns across social media seem to agree on that point. It was epic. And as so often happens in those types of matches, the guy who had the least amount of chances to pull off the win was the one who escaped with the victory. I could easily go back through my catalogue of plays on Twitter in the last two years and find about twenty examples of the guy I bet on going 1/10 on break points and losing to a guy who converted 2/3, so I won’t shed any tears for Tsitsipas. That’s usually how underdogs pull off the upset.
Fed and Nadal cruised and while Nishi didn’t finish, he is up 2 sets to 1 and plus 7 games. It would be hard for him to win the match and not cover at this point. I think he’d have to get breadsticked in the 4th and win the 5th in a tiebreak to win and not cover. Even in a loss, assuming it also doesn’t contain some bread, he still might cover.
Monday is a big, big day. Zverev and Khachanov are both dogs in their fourth round matches and face a stiff challenge to get into a spot for me to make money off them.
Since turning into “peak” Djokovic in 2011 Novak has been through eight Roland Garros draws, easily moving through the fourth round each time. But he hasn’t always covered an -8.5 spread in this round. Two players who habitually give him trouble, Kohl and RBA, both took a set off Djoker in the 4th round at the French. Seppi took two sets off Djoker in the fourth round here in 2012 and Gasquet, while he didn’t steal a set, kept the three he lost pretty close. So, it’s no gaurantee that Djoker covers with ease. We’ve also seen ample evidence that these big seeds are not motivated to blow anyone out this fortnight. Just survive (Rafa again yesterday failed to cover the spread). Now, Novak hasn’t dropped a set yet so far at the French and he hasn’t been pushed past ten games in a set yet. That’s a concern for Struff because Novak has played a guy that breaks serve better on clay than the German does and a guy that holds serve better than Struff. Neither was able to really push Novak. Laaksonen breaks serve routinely in the 30% range on clay, and he generated a whole ONE break chance in three sets. Of course, he did convert that chance but, Novak immediately broke right back. Hurkacz holds serve at about the same level Struff does, right around 80% on clay - he was broken SIX times by the Serb. Struff is holding serve 88% of the time this week, so far, so that bodes well for him and the one time he played Djokovic he was able to force a tiebreak in the first set. I see this match playing out similar to both the Hurkacz match from round one and the previous Djoker/Struff match. Struff keeps it close early and fades late. Struff has played five tiebreaks already at the French, so maybe he can force another early against Novak. But, Novak should wear Stuff down and run away with the third or fourth set. Novak has played three matches thus far, hasn’t dropped a set and his three third sets have been 62,63,62. Again, going back to 2011, Novak has 42 wins at Roland Garros, in the final set of each of those wins he has won 63 or better 27 times. I expect Novak to win 3-0 and will look to take -2.5 games in the third set if it’s less than -200 and maybe even -3.5 if Novak is serving first and it’s plus money.
I can’t get out of my head Fog’s history at various Slams. He has only been to the 4th round twice in his life at Roland Garros. His one win in the fourth round was a long five setter which caused him to withdraw from his quarter-final match. And the French Open is his BEST Slam. Fog have never been past the fourth round at any other Slam. He just can’t hold focus for that long, I guess. Zverev, of course, famously, hasn’t gone deep at a Slam either but, he is also 22. Fog is 32. The one Slam where Zverev has had success was the French, last year. Zverev has better clay court numbers than Fog in each of the last three years and a better career record on the surface. And Zverev may want some revenge for Monte Carlo. I like Zverev here, amazingly, as plus money. I also really like the over here. Fog has played three four-setters and Zverev has played two five-setters. There is a great possibility this goes at least four sets. I won’t be on it though - I am having real trouble lining the over/unders here. They are ranging from as high as 39.5, as this one is, to as low as 33.5 and I can’t quite get my predictions down. Cuevas and Thiem played a four setter yesterday that ended on 39. There’s a good chance Nishikori and Paire could finish a four setter at 39. Nadal and Goffin played a four set that went 35, as did Moutet and Pella. Londero and Gasquet played four sets and landed on 36. You get the idea, lots of four setters come in under 39.5. My initial thought was slam the over… until I saw the number. I’ll stick with AZ.
This won’t be long. I thought Thiem would struggle this week. He has dropped a set in each of his three matches and was really pushed by both Bublik and Tommy Paul. I thought the trouble might come from Cuevas and Verdasco but, although Cuevas took a set, Thiem never really seemed in trouble and Monfils took care of Verdasco. That really opens things up for Thiem. He kind of owns Monfils. They have played four times, twice on clay and Thiem has crushed him in three of the four matches. Monfils hasn’t dropped a set yet but, you could argue he has had the easiest path of anyone in the tournament to this point - certainly close to what Nadal has faced. This will be a big, big step up and Monfils might just not be ready. I’ll take Thiem.
Much like Thiem-Monfils, the head to head here is unfortunate. Delpo has looked just fine, other than a mild knee problem. If healthy he should roll past KK. I was really banking on FAA getting in Delpo’s way or Delpo getting hurt. FAA pulled out and Delpo has pushed through whatever nagging issues he has. KK has looked pretty solid, only dropping one set so far (although that set was concerning in and of itself), but, much like Coric vs Djoker or Gasquet vs Fed, this is simply a matchup of a guy playing a better version of himself. Delpo does everything KK does and does it all a little harder. The fun thing here is, I’m playing with 80/1. So, with a relatively cheap moneyline of -200 I’m going in to win a unit and a half on Delpo and maybe cover the AZ, KK, and Djere futures and make a few dollars.
Djoker 3-0/Thiem ml, -105
Zverev ml, +100
Delpo ml, -200, $300 to win $150 (hedge of KK 80/1 future)