Welcome to the Roland Garros Men’s Draw Preview. Will Rafa Nadal have it all his way in France this year? Can Andre Agassi help turn around Novak Djokovic’s 2017? Can Tsonga, Monfils or Pouille bring home a title for the home crowd?
When you are looking for value, it is best to search around in the top half of the draw, where you are able to avoid both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic until the final. For me, the following players all appeal for their outright price from a trading perspective (note some players in the quarter previews below may not be value to win the quarter, but may be trading value in the outright market):
Jo Wilfried Tsonga – $81 – Crownbet ($100 Betfair) – Two time semi finalist at Roland Garros in front of his home crowd. When fit, always features strongly here. Olivo, then Edmund, then Kyrgios, then Cilic are all quite winnable games, which should bring this $81 in considerably (especially if one of Nadal/Djokovic have a hiccup).
Tomas Berdych – $151 – Sportsbet (some money at $251 at Betfair) – Can’t win it, but not the worst draw in the world. Should at least make the 4th round, and if Murray goes out on the way, could be the favourite in a quarter final.
Marin Cilic – $131 – Unibet – Proven at Grand Slam level in the past, did win a clay title this year, and one of Cilic and Tsonga could very easily find themselves in a Grand Slam quarter final, where they are both proven in the past. That being said, I intend on a small play on Gulbis to beat Cilic at well over $10 in round one purely because I think that price is ridiculous.
Probably the second most open quarter thanks to the recent struggles of Andy Murray, who is playing some inconsistent tennis at the moment on clay. Let’s have a look at some of the key players in the draw, and who I expect them to need to beat to get through the quarter safely.
Andy Murray ($3.00 Bet365 / $2.50 Sportsbet) – At $1.16, this is the longest price that Andy Murray has been in the first round of a Grand Slam since French Open 2010, where he came up against Richard Gasquet at $1.51. This is a bit of a sign that confidence in Murray is at its lowest for some time, which is interesting as he is the current world number 1. He doesn’t have an easy start, coming up against Andrey Kuznetsov on his most successful surface (semi finalist this week). You can see why he is at $3 based on his potential matchups that may arise along the way:
– Andrey Kuznetsov
– Martin Klizan
– Juan Martin Del Potro
I don’t think I could confidently take the $3 on offer here for Murray to win his quarter purely based on his form and the talent of his quarter on clay. That being said, you also need to take into account that Andy Murray remains one of the fittest players on tour, and it is much easier to beat him in 3 sets than it is in the best of 5 set format. Cannot have at the price, especially considering how highly I rate his first round opponent, let alone his other opponents to follow if her were to win.
Alexander Zverev ($3.75 Bet365 / $4.50 Sportsbet) – One of the best youngsters in tennis, this is the perfect opportunity for Zverev to make a name for himself on the Grand Slam stage. My one major concern is his endurance, as he may struggle if he cannot put away opponents quickly in the first week. My biggest concern is that he is coming up against Fernando Verdasco in the first round, who is a renowned giant killer as he tends to play a lot better as an underdog, as he will be in this instance at approximately $5.50 vs Zverev.
I may look into a play on Zverev if he puts in a solid performance against Verdasco, as if he wins round 1 he should comfortably make round 4, where he would start as a favourite against any opponent in that section. The worry? As we saw at the Australian Open against Robin Haase, Zverev can still find himself checking in and out of matches in the best of 5 set format. If he plays like he did in Rome where he took the title, he is every chance here (although managed to avoid Thiem/Nadal in a favourable clay draw before the final against Novak)
Kei Nishikori ($5.50 Sportsbet / $6.00 Bet365) – Should make the 4th round based on his draw alone, however can’t imagine him beating any of Murray/Zverev and perhaps even Cuevas or Isner/Berdych on their day. Happy to be proven wrong, but it is always a struggle to back in Nishikori in a fortnight of best of 5 tennis considering the issues he can have with his body.
BEST OF THE REST
Juan Martin Del Potro – ($8.50 Bet365 / $10 Sportsbet) – I understand the reasoning behind Del Potro skipping the Australian hardcourt circuit, however I can’t picture Del Potro being a threat going deep into the second week of the French Open. The main reason is his backhand, which can be masked on the faster surfaces, he may find himself vulnerable against the better movers and shotmakers who can attack that backhand wing over 5 sets. Will need to play a lot better than he has shown in the last few weeks.
Tomas Berdych ($9 Sportsbet / $12 Bet365) – Currently in the middle of his best tournament in some time, currently about to play his final in Lyon against Tsonga. Berdych has been solid without setting the world on fire, and I guess my big concern is that he doesn’t quite have that mental strength in key moments in big matches. The $12 potentially represents some slight value if he plays like he did this week, however I generally don’t like backing players coming into a Grand Slam off a full week the week before.
Pablo Cuevas ($23 Bet365 / $15 Sportsbet) – I rate Cuevas on clay, but not so much across the best of 5 set format. I just can’t quite picture myself saying ‘Pablo Cuevas, French Open semi-finallist’. It may be in part due to his fadeouts in key matches of late, most notably vs Pouille in Monte Carlo where he lost from serving for the match at 30/0.
John Isner ($23 Sportsbet / $29 Bet365) – Similar to Cuevas, can’t have on clay in best of 5 sets – can you say “John Isner, Roland Garros Semi Finallist” and not feel slightly uneasy? Good luck if you can.
There are a couple of players who you can make a case for upsetting one of the players above, but not to make the semi final. Those players are:
– Fernando Verdasco
– Jan-Lennard Struff
– Andrey Kuznetsov
– Nicolas Almagro
I’d want to see more out of Khachanov at Grand Slam level before considering him in one of the groups above, likewise with Chung.
On the prices listed above I would most consider the $4.50 for Zverev at Sportsbet and the $12 for Berdych at Bet365. Following along from my comments above, you could also consider the $67 at Sportsbet for Verdasco, however considering he is $5.50 to win in the first round, you could probably have a nibble there and carry over winnings into the 2nd round and onwards with a bit more control.
The most wide open quarter in my opinion. Can Stan turn up for more Grand Slam glory? Can one of the Frenchman make his way to the final 4? My thoughts are below.
Stan Wawrinka ($3.10 Sportsbet / $2.50 Bet365) – Losses this clay season against Cuevas, Paire and Isner is not the form that makes you feel confident about going into the French Open. Nevertheless, he is in the Geneva final tonight, and you would be gutsy to rule Stan Wawrinka out of calculations, as he always brings his best to Grand Slams. My concern with backing Stan at this short price is that he is notoriously a touch scratchy early in Grand Slams. If you combine that with his lead-up form, I would say he represents more value in Outright markets compared to quarter winner. I feel like there would be a sweat or two in his 5 matches if he were to progress, and I don’t think it is worth it for $3.10.
Nick Kyrgios ($7 Bet365 / $10 Sportsbet) – Love to watch him play, but not sure this is his Grand Slam, especially with the injury in the lead up (didn’t look superb vs Kicker this week). Really needs to be at his best physically if he is to be a chance on clay, and I wouldn’t blame him if he had one eye on the grasscourt season already.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga ($8.50 Bet365 / $4.50 Sportsbet) – Taking the court shortly in the Lyon final shortly. Unbeaten this clay season since his opening match loss to Mannarino (note walkover loss to Ferrer). Twice in the past Tsonga has been able to make the semi final, losing in 2013 to Ferrer and in 2015 to Wawrinka. Feeds off the home crowd, with a 27-9 career record at Roland Garros. I do like the $8.50 on offer, as unless Monfils or Kyrgios can pull off a remarkable week, he should be able to make the quarter final at least in my opinion.
Gael Monfils ($9 Sportsbet / $8.50 Bet365) – Injury issues have plagued his season, can you trust him? If you knew he was fully fit this would be value, but this price is way too short, however not as short as his round 1 price of $1.10 vs Dustin Brown!!!
Richard Gasquet ($12 Sportsbet / $15 Bet365) – Another under an injury cloud. I would rather see how he goes in round one before forming an opinion here.
BEST OF THE REST
Marin Cilic ($15 Bet365 / $5.50 Sportsbet) – Differing prices at the two bookmakers listed. First round against Ernests Gulbis is one of the more interesting matches of round 1, even though odds suggest it is one of the most one sided matches as well. Did win the claycourt event in Istanbul, knocking off Isner, Schwartzman, Darcis and Dzumhur along the way. Can’t picture him getting by Tsonga if they manage to get that far.
It is hard to look beyond David Ferrer and Fabio Fognini as the others in the quarter to be an okay chance at going deep here, but on their recent form it is very hard to confidently back them on form.
As I said above, Stan is too short to consider for a future bet over 5 matches. The only player that appeals is Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at $8.50 at Bet365 or Cilic at the $15 at Bet365 to hedge the Tsonga bet.
Two words: Rafael Nadal
See above. Of the rest of the players and their prices, the only one I am interested in is Pablo Carreno Busta, who at $29 at Bet365 is a decent chance at reaching a quarter final against Rafa.
Novak Djokovic ($1.72 Sportsbet / $1.66 Bet365) – Reportedly re-energised after laying off his entire coaching staff, and he would want to be. Has to be respected in the best of 5 set format. Should at least make the quarter finals, where he will (in my opinion) be playing against Dom Thiem or David Goffin. Personally I think Goffin is more of a threat to him than Thiem, especially when you consider Novak’s last match against both players.
Dom Thiem ($3.50 Bet365 / $4.33 Sportsbet) – When he redlines, he can beat almost anybody on his day. His issue is the ability to maintain that level over 5 sets vs the top players. I really think that on his day he can beat anyone, however that demolition at the hands of Djokovic a week ago has well and truly burned in my memory. Will need to beat Goffin and Djokovic at the very least you would think.
David Goffin ($10 Sportsbet / $10 Bet365) – Mr Reliable, but just doesn’t quite have the weapons to match it with the big players on the biggest stage. His biggest test will come against Dom Thiem I would imagine. Odds seem about right.
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Hard to see anyone else getting out of this quarter alive, unless Albert Ramos or Lucas Pouille play out of their skin. That being said, I would want longer prices.
Nothing really appeals out of this quarter. It all depends on if Novak shows up and brings his best tennis to the table.