Do you know what amazing handicapping looks like? Karen Khachanov covering a badly lined -5.5 spread with a straight sets, no fuss 63,76,75 win. Right? Oh wait, Khachanov dropped a fucking 0-6 third set BAGEL. LOL, what?
Do you know what amazing handicapping looks like? Gael Monfils needing to get up a double break in the third set to cover -7.5. And easily getting it, breaking right out the gate in the first game and again in the fifth game. Monfils was up 63,64,5*-2… perfect, right? Oh wait, Monfils was broken serving for the match.
Whatever, I suck right now.
You see the top part of that graphic? That’s a what a losing streak looks like. At least I don’t hide from it.
Raptors basketball and the Kindergarten to Grade 5 Fun Fair conspired to rob me of my evening. And, I’ve sucked at this for a while. So, let’s change it up. I’m just going to write about what ever match interests me the most and see where that goes.
Want to know a fun stat? Rafa has been to Roland Garros 14 times. He has played 13 third round matches. He has covered the -9.5 line 9 times. The failures were 2005, his first trip, at 18, versus Richard Gasquet. The second time was in 2006, at 19, versus Paul-Henri Mathieu. The third time was Lleyton Hewitt in 2010. The fourth time was Fognini in 2013. David Goffin, on a good day, is probably only better than Mathieu on that list. These two guys have played on clay three times. The sets have finished 76,62,63,61,64,60. The 76 set came, wait for it, in…. Madrid, at altitude. Goffin has only been past the third round twice and he has only ever beaten one top 30 player at this event (Stepanek #27 way back, when Stepanek was kind of good). Goffin actually has above average clay court stats, almost bordering on elite. He just doesn’t match up well with Rafa, who has out of this world clay stats. People in the media have been trying to pump Goffin’s tires this week, saying he has looked impressive; well, I hate to break it to you but, he beat a guy who routinely struggles to stay in the top 100 and an 18 year old. Those matches mean very little in my eyes. I expect Rafa to win in straights, which I’ll parlay and I expect Rafa to win enough to cover the -9.5.
I expected Tsitsipas to have a huge 2019 as far back as last October - you can find some fun interactions on Twitter surrounding the #nextGen tournament and Tsitsipas if you care to look it up. You can hear me bemoan Tsitty deciding to play Marseilles and Dubai earlier this year because I wanted him healthy and rested for clay. I wish he hadn’t have landed in Rafa’s half of this draw. He’s looked great here, he doesn’t fear Fed, I’m sure he doesn’t fear Stan or Dimitrov. He should roll here. Krajinovic has played back-to-back five setters and the second round one even went to 8-6. Tsitsipas is a big step up from RCB and Tsitty has covered the -5.5 line in both of his matches so far this week, despite dropping a set against Dellien. At 27 Kraj has never been past the third round of a Slam and he’d never even won a main draw match at Roland Garros before this week. Tsitty rolls here and covers the -5.5.
Stanimal is getting a shit ton of credit for dismantling Cristian Garin on Wednesday. I’m here, as an ardent supporter, to say, let’s just pump the breaks a little. Garin is having a year, no doubt. But, please remember he is 22, this is his 9th Slam he’s ever attended and only the third main draw he’s ever entered. He was 0-2 prior to this week, at Slams, in his life. He beat Opelka, on clay, in two coin flips; that was his first ever win. So, credit Stan, but, let’s ease up. Dimitrov is a little more experienced than Garin and he has beaten Stan four times, including twice on clay, in Europe. There is no statistical argument for taking Stan either. The clay court hold/break stats the last three years have been either in Dimitrov’s favour and close enough to make you nervous for Stan. You have to go back to 2016 and 2015, Slam winning, Stan to find a version of him that could outpace Dimitrov in hold/break percentages - and that’s when Dimitrov’s wins came! So, as usual, with Stan, throw the stats out. Dimitrov has two messy wins under his belt this week and that has to give him a little confidence boost. As I said, these two have played eight times, and Stan’s wins have rarely been straight forward. I think given what form you can discern here, Stan probably pulls this out, but, I doubt it will be easy. I think a bet on Stan 3-1 is in order, I could easily see him dropping a tiebreak and cruising through the other three sets. That means I also want to hit the tiebreak equals yes prop.
Here’s some history. I said in the podcast this week that while the first two rounds may be all over the place the French Open historically chalks up and by the quatter-finals you almost invariably get the top eight seeds. Well, the third round is indicative of that chalk. In the last five years the third round has seen four, that’s right only FOUR, upsets where the favorite was lined -200 or greater. And there are usually about 8-10 matches per year lined as such amoung the sixteen in this round (this year 13 of the 16 are lined that high). The four are Cecchinato upsetting PCB last year when he upset everyone he played; Zeballos upsetting Goffin in 2017, Verdasco upsetting Cuevas in 2017 and Troicki upsetting Simon in 2016 (notice Goffin AND Simon both made the list of biggest upsets…. if you are a regular reader of this blog, that news should knock you off your chair [sarcasm font]). If there is going to be an upset today I think it comes from one of these two matches. I have no idea what Mahut is doing. Pissed off at PHH? Emboldened by a partisan crowd? I don’t know but, the stats are eerily similar to the way Kohl presented in round two. And that ended poorly. Mahut has actually beaten Mayer both times they played, and handily too. As for Londero, well, I’ve been fading him in Europe for two months, with mixed results. Moutet is another French surprise and if he can continue to land first serves around 70% (73% vs Pella) and continue to protect his second serve at a 50% clip (50% against Vatutin, 59% against Pella) than he should be competitive with Londero. The combined hold/break stats on clay are actually pretty similar and neither has a large experience advantage in this setting. I’ll take the plus games on both dogs.
Federer’s moneyline is twice as much as Tsitsipas’ yet Tsitty is lined at -5.5 and Fed at only -6.5. Books have caught on two what I wrote about for both of Fed’s matches this week. He wins. But, he’s is not trying to put the hammer down on anyone. Both his third sets ended 64, just as I wrote them up. There was money to be made on a +2.5 games both times. I see the same thing again. Ruud is a third straight, young, dirt comfortable European that Fed is facing. It should play out very similarily. And being set at -6.5, means 64,64,64 loses and 63,64,64 wins. Could literally come down to whether Fed serves first in the first set. No thanks. I’ll take the 3-0 and expect him to closely but, comfortably win.
Much like Goffin and little like Stan, PCB is getting a ton of credit for finally being ‘back’. Well, now he plays somebody who can compete on clay with him. Paire is hot. And he wants it. Plenty of opportunities to fold in that fifth set against PHH. In fact, that might be the most resilient tennis has ever seen the popped collar. These guys have played each other ELEVEN times, so they know each other well. And Paire has won the last three. Convincingly. I expect him to win again. If PCB’s fitness is going to run out, it’ll probably be here, the end of the first week. The hold/break stats have always been in PCB’s favour, but, always by a slim margin and Paire has won anyway. What’s going to happen now that Paire is presenting elite level clay numbers? I’ll take the dog money.
I have a 500/1 outright on Djere. It is too early to hedge, I knew he’d get here, and I kind of expected him to get past Tsonga or Nishikori. Nishikori is vulnerable and I could see Djere keeping this close and making it interesting. If Djere gets ahead early or it’s tight late, there may be a spot to get a cheap hedge in on Kei. I’ll be watching with baited breath.
Rafa 3-0/Fed 3-0, +122
Rafa -9.5, -120
Tsitty -5.5, -138
Stan 3-1, +275
Stan + Dimi tiebreak = yes, -188
Paire ml, +137
Moutet +4.5, -125
Mahut +5.5, -138