Welcome to the Day 3 preview. With the first round spanning over 3 days, today we see the last of the opening matches, and a few matches have caught my eye.
Taylor Townsend vs Miyu Kato
Really really rate the form of Kato through qualifying. Wins over Rodionova and Sramkova comfortably in straight sets, then backed up with a 3 set win over Ons Jabeur (into the second round as a lucky loser) is possibly the best qualifying performance on the women’s side outside of Sara Errani. She has a feel for the courts and how they are playing, and as a technically very sound player will cause a lot of problems for Taylor Townsend.
Townsend hasn’t won a match on clay since the first round of the French Open last year (although has only played 4 matches). She reminds me a lot of Donald Young from a few years ago, in that I really struggle to trust her playing outside of the United States borders, and I think unless she absolutely redlines it tonight, Kato will cause her quite a bit of grief, and in my opinion if she plays to her qualifying form, she should cover the +2.5 games here.
Madison keys vs ash barty
4 units Barty to defeat Keys at $2.03 at Pinnacle
Very happy to side with Barty here as a slight underdog vs Madison Keys. Barty is flying up the rankings in her first year back from playing cricket, and her performances on clay have been surprisingly impressive. When you break down her start to the clay season:
- Beat Zheng in 3
- Lost to Ostapenko in 3
- Beat Paquet in 2
- Beat Razzano in 3
- Beat Buyukakcay 6-0 6-1 (she beat Lucic-Baroni on Sunday night)
- Beat Giorgi 6-3 6-0
- Lost to Gavrilova 4-6 7-6 6-7
Madison Keys on the other hand hasn’t quite hit her straps in 2017, especially on clay. Coming in to the French Open, Keys has lost in 3 sets to Shelby Rogers, Misaki Doi and Daria Gavrilova. Whilst losing to Gavrilova (and to a lesser extent Rogers) wouldn’t be considered the worst losses in the world, it can have an impact on Keys who is very much a confidence player. Until Keys can prove she is back to her winning ways, I cannot confidently side with her in any capacity. Considering the form Barty has shown of late, I am happy with the price on offer.
Barbara Strycova vs Alison riske
3 units Strycova -3.5 games at $1.85 at Pinnacle
Going to keep this one short, sharp and to the point. Clay is in no way a strength of Riske’s, with only 142 of her 1355 ranking points coming on clay. Those 142 points have come from 6 tournaments, whereas Strycova has 445 clay points from 4 tournaments. Strycova has the court movement and agility to make this very very difficult for Riske. I was tossing up Strycova 2-0 and -3.5 games, and ultimately I feel like Strycova can potentially cover this handicap in 3 sets if needed. Personally, I see her being far too strong for Riske.
Nicolas Jarry vs Karen Khachanov
2 units Jarry +6.5 games vs Khachanov at $1.90 at Pinnacle
Nicolas Jarry put together a very solid qualifying run, beating Bagnis via retirement and Popko in straight sets before knocking off Opelka in three sets. Jarry was unstoppable at Futures and Challenger levels, winning 19 matches in a row on clay at one point. He also was able to push the likes of Almagro, Giraldo and Escobedo.
Karen Khachanov is still an unproven commodity in some respects. One week he can go on a rampage and beat Bellucci, Cuevas and Goffin (Barcelona Open 2017) only a few weeks after being knocked out of consecutive Challenger tournaments in the second round (vs Napolitano and Giustino).
Jarry off the back of a solid qualifying campaign vs Khachanov, who at his age is still capable of phasing in and out of best of 5 set tennis matches feels like an ideal situation to take the qualifier at the + game handicap. +6.5 games seems sensible, as Jarry should cover if he wins a set and may still get the job done in a close three set loss.