Come join us for an overview of the first day of Roland-Garros action, and get insight on value selections to start your tournament off with a bang!
Tennis has taken over the city of Paris, and day one of Roland-Garros is upon us once more. Within the first day of action, we will see some highly anticipated matchups, like the 9th seed Johanna Konta taking on young starlet Cori Gauff on Court Suzanne-Lenglen. Over on Philippe-Chatrier, Jannik Sinner will take on 11th seed David Goffin. Our chosen matchups where our free tennis picks find value happen to be blockbusters as well. Let’s begin!
Stanislas Wawrinka(16) vs. Andy Murray(111)
Sunday, September 27, Paris
One of only two players to hoist the Roland-Garros in a year where Rafael Nadal has been fully fit, the 2015 champion Stanislas Wawrinka would need to roll back the years once more to do something special on this occasion. The 35-year old opted to skip out on the US hard court swing, and instead played two clay-court challenger events in the lead up to Rome. There, he looked out of sorts and even after improving could not contend with a brilliant Lorenzo Musetti in a first-round loss. After recently splitting with long-time coach Magnus Norman, it’s certainly not been an ideal lead up to this year’s Major.
There will be little margin for error as Wawrinka’s been drawn against a brutal first-round opponent: Andy Murray. The former world no.1 has done exceptionally well to come back from an unprecedented hip resurfacing surgery when many thought his career was over. One of the grittiest players the game has ever seen, Murray has showcased his patented never say die attitude on plenty of occasions since his comeback to the sport.
We saw yet another example of this at the recent US Open, where the Briton’s Major comeback saw him two sets and a break down to Nishioka Yoshihito. Andy would not relent, however, and produced a stunning comeback to net the five-set comeback in four hours and 38 minutes.
It almost seems fated that these two tennis greats will once more share the spotlight on the very biggest stage. After hitting together on Court Philippe-Chatrier in the build-up, three years removed from their epic five-set semifinal showdown on this very court, history looks to repeat itself. Both men embody grit, strength, and perseverance, and neither will relent until the match point has been won by the other party. Both are far removed from their respective peaks, but also have the ability to roll back the years on the biggest of stages.
We’ve seen a whopping 21 head-to-head showdowns between the two, and Murray leads the way 13-8. Many have questioned the Briton’s metal hip and his physical conditioning – including the man himself. But his comeback victory over Stanimal himself in the Antwerp final last fall, and his comeback win over Nishioka at the US Open should give Murray all the belief he needs to make this competitive.
Like always when these two square up, expect long, grueling baseline rallies and many moments of brilliance. The ATP odds make Wawrinka the warm -300 favorite, with Murray found around +240. I expect a much closer affair than those odds suggest, and we could well be in for another five-setter on this occasion. BetOnline offers -110 for the over 37.5 games, which we’ll take in a heartbeat.
Anett Kontaveit(17) vs. Caroline Garcia(45)
Sunday, September 27, Paris
While often unfortunate with the draw, Anett Kontaveit is certainly one who will want to perform better this time around. Upset in the first round as the -167 favorite against Karolina Muchova in 2019, the talented clay-courter has all the weapons necessary to make a deep run this year. Kontaveit has looked in great touch after the restart, with a Palermo final and two deep runs in “Cincinnati” and the US Open ended by Naomi Osaka.
With fearsome power from both wings, the Estonian is capable of rolling over most opponents when on her game. Since teaming up with coach Nigel Sears, Anett has also improved her serve by quite a bit. Being a player residing just outside the top-10 and on the fringe of the elite, elite opposition is often what’s required to defeat the world no.21 on any surface, particularly on hard court or clay.
Perhaps Kontaveit will be made to feel unlucky with the draw once more this year, as a slumbering giant seems to have awoken after years of struggles. That woman is Caroline Garcia, the former world no.4, who has put in plenty of work during the lockdown period. Working hard on her fitness and spending time at the Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy, that hard work seems to have borne fruit.
A huge upset win over Karolina Pliskova at the US Open brought out the patented airplane celebration, and the Frenchwoman has looked a lot more confident in recent weeks. In recent interviews, Garcia has spoken about improving her confidence out on the court, and how Roland-Garros is the big focal point for the remainder of the year.
It was only just over a week ago these two last faced off in Rome, with Kontaveit prevailing in a 6-3, 7-6 affair. Both women pack quite the punch on serve, and it showed in the matchup with Kontaveit winning 85% of her first-serve points, and Garcia winning 75%. Even on slow clay in similar conditions as to what we’ll see here, there won’t be a lack of winners flying through the court.
What will be key for Garcia in this matchup is utilizing her strong forehand wing and pressure Kontaveit with baseline aggression, along with making a high percentage of first serves. The 2017 quarterfinalist often plays well in her home major though and should prove a stern test. While the WTA odds make Kontaveit the -333 favorite and Garcia the +255 shot, another close affair should be on the cards. The 20.5 total pays -108 at Bookmaker and looks bet worthy.