Man, that was a fun day. Other than whatever happened to Jame Munar, everything I looked at, cashed. I posted a couple of live plays to Twitter, I posted some plays in DM’s to people on evens that I didn’t get a chance to write up last night, so I didn’t want to make them public. and the plays I did post in this blog went 2-1. Those are fun days.
Nadal and Djere survived to round two, FAA pulled out before a ball was played so should be refunded and Zverev and KK are getting under way today. All futures are still alive. I haven’t actually laid the Zverev bet yet as I said I the podcast I wanted to see him play first. So, I’ll see if he wins today and what the market looks like on Wednesday morning. Based on how Djoker and Nadal looked in round one, if Zverev survives he should still be +2000 or so.
Andreas Seppi is on a losing streak of epic proportions. He has now lost nine straight matches dating back to February and obviously hasn’t won a match on clay yet this calendar year. You have to go back to Geneva last year to find a clay win. If you isolate just Roland Garros it doesn’t help his case any - he was destroyed here last year 0,2 and 2 by Gasquet. The year before he was straight setted by Fognini, his opponent today. The two years before that he was straight setted by Gulbis and Isner as well. In fat, if you remove his win over Santiago Giraldo in round one in 2017 from the list, you have to go back to 2014 to even find a SET Seppi has won against a top 100 player at Roland Garros. In this recent rough stretch Seppi has won three sets; he stole a tiebreak from Krajinovic and he won the middle stanza against both RBA and Hugo Dellien. The only surprise there is maybe the set he took off RBA, the other two guys are ranked in the 70’s. For his part Fognini still seems hot as a firecracker. His only two losses since he took the court in Monte Carlo have been to Thiem in Madrid and Tsitsipas in Rome; two of the top five or six clay players in the world. So, the question becomes can Fog hold his focus for three sets? The line is crazy high considering Fog can lose to anyone, kind of any time - in 2016 he lost in straights to Marcel Granollers and in 2015 he lost in straights to Paire. It’s hard to see Fog losing to Seppi here (he’s won the last four straight in their h2h) but, it’s also hard to see him covering -7.5 or managing to not drop a set. I would suspect, at this price, the only way to get involved in this match is if Fog somehow drops the first set; then you should pounce. Pass.
Oh man, this is like one of those matches that I most loathe on tour. Two, obstensibly AAAA tour players, hanging on by their finger nails to direct entry in 250’s going at it on clay. Delbonis has gone out in the first round or second in eight of the eleven events he has entered in 2019. He has made two magical runs in two 250’s that are buried on the calendar in a spot no one cares about - directly after the Aussie Open and directly before the French. A collection of unmotivated players that he could take advantage of (and good on him for doing so). Doesn’t make him someone I want to bet on though. GGL is essentially a Challenger level player now at 35, entering six Challenger events to seven ATP ones so far this year. Yet, his combined hold/break stats are still within 5% of Delbonis’ every year. They both run about the same winning percentage in tiebreaks and Delbonis hasn’t suffered the post 30 decline in play yet, so his winning percentage on clay still hovers above 0.500. I don’t see an edge here. Delbonis should win just based on his Geneva form and the seven years age gap. But, he certainly isn’t worth -334. I’d recommend the over based on their similarity of stats but, two of their three meetings have cruised under and the French Open so far is about 50/50 on overs and unders. So, pass.
Taylor Fritz. Could we have an American who likes clay? A heir apparent to the crown Jack Sock couldn’t ever lift and the crown Steve Johnson abandoned in Houston this year. Fritz is only 21 and he is quickly becoming proficient on the red stuff. He’s beaten Tsonga, Dimitrov, RBA and maybe most importantly Pella and DSS on clay this spring. His losses have been to Djoker twice, Nishikori twice and Paire in Lyon (a tournament which he won). Fritz has hold/break stats, that while not elite in any way, are competent and most importantly, far outweigh Tomic’s. Tomic is no fan of clay, it is his worst surface by a mile and he is 2-7 on it in 2019. His two wins? One over the #489th player in the world and one over Denis Kudla, who is primarily a grass player and rocks a clay winning percentage somewhere around the Mendoza line. Fritz is lined at -700 and while I don’t want to risk -6.5 here I do expect him to roll. Players lined in this vicinity have had a lot of success winning in straights so far this week. In matches where the favorite is lined higher than -500 they are 10-5 at winning in straights. The five who dropped a set were Thiem, Stan, and Tsonga (two in tiebreaks and one because of, well, being old and out of shape) and Dimitrov and Cecchinato who inexplicably were just sloppy. With a player who seemingly is playing better on the surface up against a guy who seems to despise it, I’ll roll with the former. Tomic has won two main draw matches at Roland Garros in his lifetime and the only set he has ever taken off someone in the top 50 was against a 19 year old Borna Coric. Fritz 3-0 here.
I’m not going to dig too deep here. You could easily argue that clay is RBA’s worst surface, which is odd for a Spaniard but, statistically true. But, he has competent stats, always managing a combined hold/break number over 100% on the surface and his career winning percentage remains at almost 60%. He hasn’t won a title on clay since 2014 but, he did make a final in Gstaad last year and he goes three or four rounds deep at Roland Garros every year (his last three losses here have been to Djoker, Nadal, Djoker). RBA is just a better player than SJ and it shows in their head-to-head. Once a “rivalry” gets to this stage it’s not really much of a rivalry and it becomes really difficult for the losing player to reverse the trend (see Djoker:Monfils or Fed:Gasquet). It probably won’t be a blow but, I suspect RBA will be 7-0 by tomorrow night.
You won’t ever see me betting on Thiago Monteiro matches. Kid’s got the game to beat just about anyone outside the top 5 on clay (and has pulled off some monumental upsets) but, he is…. interesting. If you scroll through his results you will find many interesting results. Add to that the fact that Lajovic has gone into a serious swoon after losing the Monte Carlo final and really you can’t have any idea what to expect here. If there was a “lock” over on the board this would be it, in my opinion - if Thiago wins the first set I would almost Mark-Messier-guarantee Lajovic wins the second. Pass.
Whatever Cameron Norrie accomplished last year on clay, it is out the window this year. Last year he rocked a combined hold/break number on clay of 106%; this year he has crashed back to earth with a pedestrian 91% to go along with the inability to win more than two matches in a row on the surface. Most concerningly he lost last week in Lyon to Ugo Humbert. Elliot skated through qualifying and went to the quarter-finals in Lisbon the week before, so if anything he is feeling “it”. Norrie should win this but, I can’t trust him. Pass.
I don’t trust either one of the Ymer brothers to win an ATP level match outside of Sweden (Mikael has one, total, ever). Blaz Rola is, and has been for a few years now, ostensibly a Challenger level player. I have no opinion on this match.
Is Zverev rested and ready to go? As far as I can tell he is attempting the unprecedented, at least for a top ten player, feat of playing every single week of the clay season. 2019 is obviously some kind of anomaly, as AZ went 20-3 on clay last year, winning multiple titles. Millman has one career win at Roland Garros and clay is his least favorite surface. Zverev should win this going away but, I want to reserve judgement till I see him play a five setter. Pass.
Dan Evans clay court stats are the stuff of the ultimate small sample size… one match. One main draw match in over two years on clay and he lost in three sets to Casper Ruud. Verdasco should be an even tougher customer. The French is Fernando’s best Slam, he has never made a “deep” run but he routinely makes the third or fourth round and he has only exited in the first round one time, when he played the great Roger Soderling in 2005 as a 20 year old. Verdasco seems in good form, going three rounds in Madrid and four in Rome before running into Tsitty and Nadal respectively. I think he’s good here.
Stebe is not a tour level player. He has only played three matches in 2019 and he hasn’t won a set. If he somehow steals one off of Khachanov, I’ll consider my outright ticket dead on arrival.
Fritz 3-0, -120
RBA ml/Verdasco ml/KK 3-0, +103