The second round has been a mixed bag so far, with routine results overall but a few big surprises. The men’s results have been largely business as usual, but on the women’s side Serena has pulled out with an Achilles injury and Azarenka was ousted 6-2 6-2 against an opponent priced +800 (9). Will Thursday bring more upsets or are the dogs done for now? Join me as I analyze day 5 in Paris and offer my best tennis picks and predictions for Sportsbook Review!
Stefanos Tsitsipas (5) vs. Pablo Cuevas
Thursday, October 1, 2020 – 09:30 AM EDT – Paris
The first match of interest involves two players who met just a few days ago in Hamburg. Tsitsipas won 7-5 6-4 that day despite Cuevas being arguably the better player in the opening set, but will we get a repeat of that result?
Tsitsipas lost in the final of Hamburg after serving for the match, and was then two sets down yesterday before winning in 5 priced -1000 (1.1) against Munar. It’s very possible that his run last week has taken a lot out of Tsitsipas and I would be surprised if he had it all his own way.
Tsitsipas is 6’ 4” and generally does his best work on quicker courts, though it has to be said that he is one of the only players who can consistently hit through conditions this slow. The problem I envisage for Tsitsipas is that, if he isn’t feeling 100%, it will be very hard to hit through a wily clay courter such as Cuevas.
Cuevas has a long history of doing well against the elite when on clay, though he is poor at getting over the line. He is +400 (5) for this match and when priced +200 (3) to +500 (6) he has won just 4 of 27 matches but has won a set in 14 and has covered the games handicap in 15 of 18 since 2014 (the next match was 2011 so a 3 year gap).
Cuevas has a way of playing poorly in key moments, hence his poor win record, but as showcased by his handicap results, he has been close in almost every match. Perhaps the bet is to take +6.5 games at -114 (1.88) with BookMaker.
Tsitsipas is hard to bet against generally but the handicap is often the way to do it based on his results and serve orientated style. He has played 25 matches priced -500 (1.2) to -200 (1.5) on clay and the handicap has landed in 15, or 60%.
On his best form, Tsitsipas may win this comfortably, but my intuition and past results highly suggest that Cuevas is likely to put up a fight so the +6.5 game handicap is my first selection of the day.
Irina Maria Bara (Q) vs. Alison Van Uytvanck
Thursday, October 1, 2020 – 07:30 AM EDT – Paris
The second match of interest features a ‘false favorite’ in my view with Bara having significantly better clay prowess than Van Uytvanck. The prices seem to reflect a stubborn reliance on all surface data, but I hope a few stats will highlight why that seems like the wrong approach to me.
To start, Bara is squarely a clay courter with a 157-101 (61%) record on the surface. Alison, by contrast, does by far her best work on hard courts and her clay record is less impressive at 67-52 (56%). The combined service/return points won since 2017 is closer but Bara still edges it at 102.4% to 102%.
More importantly, Bara has been a gold mine with a 22.8% ROI over her last 50 matches, while Van Uytvanck has a -14.2% ROI over her last 50. When Bara has been priced +100 (2) to +200 (3) on clay, she has won 28 of her last 50 matches for a 31.3% ROI including 7 of her last 10. When Van Uytvanck has tennis odds priced -200 (1.5) to -101 (1.99) on clay, she has won 15 of 26 for a -2% ROI.
Bara looked excellent in her first-round win over Vekic 6-3 6-4 priced +200 (3) and she qualified without dropping a set. Van Uytvanck by contrast lost her opening set against Peterson 6-2 before coming through in 3 sets. With the unique conditions in 2020, that extra court time may make all the difference.
The only downside for this bet is that Alison has often played well at the French in the past so it is hard to judge how predictive these trends will be on the day, but with all the changes in 2020 and the general upside of backing Bara, I’m happy to take the chance.