As the tournament progresses, we have more form and statistics to go off. That being said, so do the bookies. I still like to think that with the relevant research and putting all the stats and form out there on the table, that we can find ourselves a few specials each day from here on in.
I will try and cover more games if possible, but obviously will weight my time to favour discussing higher confidence plays. Let’s get stuck into it!
I have been in discussions with a good friend of mine regarding some research he has completed regarding poor statistics and results for players backing up at Grand Slam level after playing a 5 setter. Although I already liked these plays, it is interesting to note just how many of these players are coming up against opponents backing up from a 5 set victory.
Viktor Troicki H2H (5 set refund)
Ernests Gulbis -2 handicap
Nick Kyrgios vs Marin Cilic under 31.5
BEST OF REST
Lopez/Sousa over 3.5 sets
Blaz Kavcic hanicap +5
Keys h2h @ $1.80 (CB)
Lisicki -4 @ $1.87 (CB/SPB)
Pays $6.16 at Betfair + 50% bonus (up to $100) if you opt-in and place bet on mobile.
Match 1: Viktor Troicki vs Daniel Gimeno-Traver
Head to Head – Troicki leads 2-0 (1 x grass, 1 x hardcourt, both 2+ years ago)
Statistics Round 1
All you want to do in the early stages of a Grand Slam is 1) get through unscathed and 2) reduce the number of points you need to play. You need to look after your spot in the draw, and look after your body. Troicki did that incredibly well in his first round meeting with James Blake, committing only 12 unforced errors in 3 sets of tennis. What was particularly impressive here was the fact Troicki was so dominant on the first serve points, even though his 1st serve % was 12% lower than his average for the last 12 months.
What also impressed me was his ability to consistently pressure the serve of James Blake. In 12 of the 13 services games, Troicki either broke (7 times) or reached 30, putting pressure on the serve. Although he did drop his serve twice, his ability to consistently pressure, particularly on the 2nd serve of Blake (27/42 points won).
As I said earlier, it is always great to see the unforced errors stat low for Troicki. If he is limiting his poor decisions, and maintaining his composure (twice coming back from a break down), then it is a really good sign.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a big win for Gimeno-Traver over Monaco, and I am not going to take that away from him when analysing this match. That being said, you have to question Monaco playing in an ATP 250 tournament the week before a Grand Slam. Sure, it was an easy kill and tournament win, but there is a reason why the majority of the big boys don’t play competitive tennis the week before a Grand Slam.
You guys all know my feelings on players backing up within 48 hours of a tournament win. I thought Monaco had the ability to overcome it (evidence by him being in the multi), however upon reflection it is something that may have played a role in the match that’s for sure.
What I didn’t like from Gimeno-Traver was the number of easy service games he gifted to Monaco, particularly in the first two sets. Didn’t earn one break point in the first two sets (10 Monaco service games), and only reached Deuce once. It was the 3rd set where the tide started to turn. Both players broke each other twice, and Gimeno-Traver found himself on the brink of defeat, down 1-4 in the tiebreak before reeling off 6 consecutive points. Coming out of the tiebreak, Monaco lost serve (surprisingly common in the 1st service game after a tiebreak), and only one break point eventuated the rest of the 4th set. The 5th set was a strange scramble. Service breaks, fatigue, long service games. It had it all. Gimeno-Traver played the last two games the better, breaking serve in a long Deuce game before serving it out.
If you played a full week of tennis the preceding week, celebrated a title win, then backed up at Grand Slam tennis, do you think you would be at your 100% best in the 5th set of a match? Doubtful. I rate the win of Gimeno-Traver, however I think the market has overvalued it.
The Final Word
There are a number of key reasons why I am heading down the Troicki path today. He is the fresher player, playing 200 less points than Gimeno-Traver, and with an extra day of rest. He has more capacity to improve his 1st serve % from the round 1 matches (Troicki 12% below 12 month average, Gimeno-Traver 3% below 12 month average). Troicki’s low unforced error rate (3 winners to 1 unforced error rate) was impressive. His 2-0 H2H, albeit from years ago and on different surfaces, is something to consider, even if minimally. Troicki’s consistent pressure on the Blake serve gave him ample and regular opportunities to break. Gimeno-Traver went long periods (sometimes sets) without getting close to a look-in on the Monaco serve.
The money has come for Troicki too since opening. Although not the be all and end all, it is nice to see others on the same page.
Suggested Bet: Troicki h2h at $1.70 at Centrebet with 5 SET REFUND
Match 2: Gael Monfils vs Ernests Gulbis
H2H – NO PREVIOUS MEETINGS
You just know this is going to be one of the most entertaining matches of the first week of Roland Garros. 3rd up on Centre Court, it is going to be must-see viewing.
It is nice to see Monfils string together a couple of weeks of really solid tennis after an indifferent start to the year. It was very much a game that just had the feel of hold serve, and try as hard as you can to find an opportunity to break serve wherever you can. Berdych crumbled in the big moments deep in the 5th set, with Monfils on his last legs, looking visibly incredibly tired. The crowd helped will Monfils over the line in the end, 7-5 in the 5th set.
While I agree the tennis Monfils has played over the last two weeks has been great for Monfils, I have to question just how Monfils is physically. The Berdych setter was the 11th match Monfils has played since May 13. Of his 10 wins in that stretch, only two opponents were top 50 players (Fognini and Berdych). 3 of those wins came in tough 2 setters, against Giraldo, Roger-Vasselin and Giraldo.
The mind is willing, but is the body able? Monfils started to show glimpses vs Berdych that the last fortnight has taken a toll on the Frenchman. Can he push through it?
Gulbis was nowhere near his best vs Dutra Silva, yet was still able to win relatively easily. I don’t think people give Gulbis the credit he deserves regarding his tennis IQ. Yes he does hit the cover off the ball, however he picks his moments better than most. It is generally higher percentage than others who bludgeon the ball into tomorrow.
I would go as far to say the last 3 months has been the best tennis of his career. Since venturing onto the clay after his thriller against Nadal in Indian Wells, Gulbis has been beaten 4 times. 3 of those have been in 3 sets, and ALL 4 of his opponents have been top 20 opponents (Monaco, Raonic, Haas and Nadal). Since beating Isner in 3 sets on April 15, all 10 of his wins have come in straight sets, which is always a promising sign for any player.
The Final Word
You all know my thoughts on Ernie. On exposed form, conditioning, and how they match up on this surface all make me learn towards Gulbis. That being said, Monfils certainly has the tools and the ability to absolutely play out of his skin, particularly in France. That being said, I don’t think this will be an issue against Gulbis. Gulbis has a stronger mindset than Berdych, and has been more consistent of late.
If you are on Gulbis as a future bet, I would suggest a reduced stake here. If he does lose, then you don’t want a double loss.
Two possible ways to attack this. If you think a closer match, then Gulbis over 20.5 games is available which most likely covers Gulbis in 4, 5 and Monfils in 5 sets. However, I am personally going for Gulbis -2. If there were to be one-sided sets, I feel it will be in favour of Gulbis.
Suggested Bet: Gulbis -2 games at $1.90 at Sportingbet ($1.67 H2H for 5 set refunders at Centrebet)
Match 3: Nick Kyrgios vs Marin Cilic
That first round performance is something I have been waiting for with Cilic. It was back to the 2012 Cilic on clay, ruthless and on his game 100% of the time. Conceding only 6 games to Petzschner, and only conceding 14 points in 12 service games, it really is a good sign for Marin.
Although his recent form hasn’t been superb, Cilic is one of those players who performs at his peak at Grand Slam level. When he is returning well, particularly against the bigger servers, he can cause a lot of trouble.
Arguable the Cinderella story of the first round, knocking off Radek Stepanek in 3 tiebreak sets. You cannot question his grit and courage in fighting back from 1-3 in the first set tiebreak and 1-6 in the 2nd set tiebreak. It truly was a great win, Cilic is 5 times the player Stepanek is on clay at the moment.
What I found particularly concerning for Kyrgios was the number of times he found himself down 0-15 and 15-30 on his serve. You can get away with that against Stepanek, but Cilic will not let you get away with it all the time. For a big server, Kyrgios found himself in a number of tight situations on his serve. 11/18 service games resulted in Stepanek reaching 30. Cilic will get more of a look-in on Kyrgios’ serve consistently, and it has to be a massive worry for Nick.
The Final Word
I think the run of Nick Kyrgios sadly comes to an end in a big way here. Cilic is so many classes above Stepanek in terms of an opponent. Cilic will not give Kyrgios any cheap points on serve, with his ability to return serve undervalued.
Cilic will get the job done here, and I think it will be quite easy to be honest. His low unforced error count last round and quality serving suggests Kyrgios will struggle to get a consistent look-in on the serve of Cilic, while Cilic will pressure consistently. If you continue to pressure pressure pressure, you are rewarded. Cilic in straight in a 6-4 6-2 6-4 type result.
Suggested Bet: Under 31.5 games at $1.93 at Pinnacle or $1.80 at Sportingbet
Match 4: Andreas Seppi vs Blaz Kavcic
Previous H2H – No Previous Meetings
I think the big question of late is…what on earth is going on with Andreas Seppi?! Since Indian Wells in March, Seppi has gone on a horror run, with claycourt losses to Fognini, Rosol, Ferrer, Haas, Fognini and Lu (only his second clay win in 12 years on tour). Amongst all those losses, were only 2 wins (vs Falla and Robredo).
Seppi is another of the seeds to have a pretty average performance in the first round, scraping through 6-4 in the 5th set against Leo Mayer, who I personally rate but has been playing far below his potential of late. Seppi dished out 50 winners in his match with Mayer, however that was cancelled out and then some with 69 unforced errors. What was also interesting to note is the small disparity between 1st and 2nd serve points won % (66% on 1st, 60% on 2nd). That being said, Seppi has one of the meekest serves of the top 40. What is concerning is finding himself broken 6 times, even though he did break Mayer 9 times.
Absolutely routed James Duckworth 2, 2 and 2. Only had 8 unforced errors in 24 games of tennis is solid, if nothing else.
The Final Word
Seppi is 3-6 on clay over the last 3 months. Kavcic is 3-3. While I agree that Seppi has come up against stronger opponents of late, his performances have been nothing short of poor in my opinion. Based on the stats of the first round, as well as remembering Seppi was pushed 5 by Kavcic, leaves me struggling to justify why Seppi is afforded a 5 game handicap here. I think Kavcic has a chance to majorly push Seppi here, and perhaps sneak an upset. Much safer to take the +5 handicap though.
Suggested Bet: Kavcic +5 games at $1.80 at Pinnacle
Match 5: Joao Sousa vs Feliciano Lopez
No Previous Meetings
The Final Word
Considering Feliciano Lopez just won his first claycourt match for the year, in a dour struggle with Marcel Granollers in 5 sets spread out over 2 days. I can see why Lopez is favourite, but I don’t think it will be anywhere as easy as the odds suggest it will be. Sousa can grind down Lopez, and in my opinion can snag at least a set off Lopez. I think Sousa is overs at $4 head to head, but I think over 3.5 sets may be the safer option here.
Suggested Bet: Over 3.5 sets at $1.80 at Sportsbet
By Carine06 from UK (Viktor Troicki) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons