Come join us for a breakdown of the Roland-Garros semifinals, and get insight on value selections to end your stay in Paris on a high note!
We’ve seen a plethora of shocking upsets and rising stars make their breakthrough in this COVID-19 delayed Roland-Garros. On the Men’s side, however, many things remain unchanged. Rafael Nadal, the King of Clay, beat 19-year old phenom Jannik Sinner to make the semifinal. Novak Djokovic will try to beat Pablo Carreno-Busta in the US Open defaulted rematch, and get one step closer to a final showdown with Nadal – but would also have to get through the impressive Stefanos Tsitsipas first.
On the women’s side, tournament favorite Simona Halep crashed out at the hands of Iga Swiatek, the 19-year old star playing scintillating tennis right now. We’ll also see the last two remaining big seeds in Sofia Kenin(4) and Petra Kvitova(7) duke it out. The stage is set as we approach the end of the tournament and our free tennis picks will guide you through it. Let’s begin!
Diego Schwartzman(12) vs. Rafael Nadal(2)
Thursday, October 8, Paris
It's been a long journey, filled with monumental challenges, highs, and lows. But Diego Sebastian Schwartzman, probably the best tennis player in the world per inch, has made his maiden Major semifinal. The unyielding 28-year old Argentinian will subsequently make his top-10 debut, and "Peque" has made his fans proud throughout this fortnight. Following a maiden Masters 1000 final where he beat Rafael Nadal himself in straight sets(!), Schwartzman managed to defeat Dominic Thiem in a five-set thriller that took 5 hours and 8 minutes to decide.
Peque is an athlete who's always playing with his heart on his sleeve, being a spirited fighter who covers the court expertly and equipped with the endurance to stand up and play for any amount of time required. It's incredibly difficult to hit through the world no.14 in these slow conditions, and with an underrated net game and willingness to come forward, he can also play the role of the aggressor.
All those qualities will be desperately needed if he is to become only the third man to ever defeat Rafael Nadal in a completed match at Roland-Garros, and the first to defeat him in back-to-back clay-court tournaments. The questions were aplenty heading into this year's tournament. Was the loss to Schwartzman in Rome a sign of vulnerability, a chink in the King's armor? Would the slow, damp, cold conditions significantly hinder his game? Could there be a maiden champion crowned at Roland-Garros just as there was at the US Open?
Nadal has swiftly disproved all of these claims, and showed once more he's still undoubtedly the man to beat on the red dirt. The spirited Italian wunderkind Jannik Sinner proved the toughest test to date, with his ferocious, flat groundstrokes enough to hit through Rafa's defenses. Even when not at his best though, the Spaniard survived the onslaught and still won in straight sets.
Diego Schwartzman is one of the few players on tour who can give Rafael Nadal plenty of trouble on the red dirt. He has a pristine backhand wing, a must to deal with the King of Clay's heavy topspin forehand. He also has the movement, court coverage skills, and endurance to grind it out in long, grueling rallies. Most importantly though, Schwartzman is unyielding, and never gives up on a point of the match, no matter the scoreline.
Countless players have packed it in when down and almost out against the great Spaniard, but Peque isn't one of them. In a sublime performance, one he described as the performance of his lifetime, the Argentinian managed to defeat Nadal in straight sets about three weeks ago. While a back-to-back victory seems unlikely, he has all the tools to make it uncomfortable. The pair have faced on four occasions in the Majors, and Schwartzman has either taken a set or forced a 7-5 set in all of them. Playing some of the best tennis of his career, a repeat of that looks likely. The over 33 games cash in three long sets or four sets, and at the -115 BetOnline price we will get involved.
Free Tennis Pick: Over 33 games (-115) with BetOnline (2u)
Iga Swiatek vs. Nadia Podoroska(Q)
Thursday, October 8, Paris
A few weeks ago, Iga Swiatek lost in straight sets to Arantxa Rus in the first round of the Rome Premier 5 tournament. Preceding that loss in her maiden clay-court match after the restart, the 19-year old Pole had also been upset in straight sets to Christina McHale as the near -300 Bovada favorite in "Cincinnati". Off the back of those results and performances, no one saw this coming. The incredibly talented Swiatek made the Round of 16 at Roland-Garros last year, only to get blown out 6-1, 6-0 to Simona Halep. On this occasion though, Swiatek has obliterated everything in her path, including the +250 tournament favorite Halep in the Round of 16 by a 6-1, 6-2 scoreline.
It's easy to see why tennis fans and pundits alike are so enamored by Swiatek. With access to easy power, but still possessing a balanced game, the 19-year old has many ways to win points. Sudden unforced errors have been a problem at times, but at large, there's no distinct weakness in her game. Most of Iga's opponents this week have been hit off the court or simply out-rallied through clever point construction and angling. The Pole has also been clutch in the big moments, last exemplified when saving 7/9 break points against the spirited Martina Trevisan in the quarterfinal.
There wouldn't have been many expecting Nadia Podoroska to be Swiatek´s opponent in this match, but the Argentinian qualifier has been incredibly impressive to make this stage. Most at home on the red dirt, it would be easy to look at Podoroska as the typical South American clay-court grinder. That couldn't be much further from the truth, as the 23-year old is quite aggressive, and will look to dictate rallies with her strong forehand as often as possible. She doesn't fear coming forward either, approaching the net 27 times in her quarterfinal against Elina Svitolina.
It looked one of the best opportunities yet for the no.3 seed to finally make a maiden Major final, and perhaps win the elusive first title to boot. But Svitolina's dogged defense was dismantled by Podoroska, who was dominant from start to finish. Taking merely 1 hour and 19 minutes to defeat the Ukrainian by a 6-2, 6-4 scoreline, the last remaining qualifier will look to make her maiden Major final in Svitolina's stead.
The best sportsbooks are understandably sky-high on Iga Swiatek right now, pricing her up near -400 on the Moneyline, with Nadia Podoroska available at +300. Swiatek doesn't look the type to let the big occasion get to her and has looked in control and mature beyond her years during this unprecedented major run. But will that hold up? For all of the Pole's great victories, she hasn't faced an aggressor with the weapons to take the match out of her racquet yet. Podoroska proves such a challenge.
Iga will have to stay clear of the lethal forehand wing, or the Argentinian has all the weaponry to hit her off the court. Another player who hasn't looked fazed by the big occasion, Nadia has been constantly undervalued by the sportsbooks. For all of Swiatek's skills, this looks like another one of those occasions, with the qualifier a longer price against the teenage sensation than she was against the world no.5 Elina Svitolina. If Iga continues to steamroll, full credit to her, but at the prices, her opponent is the value. With the +5 games paying +107 at BetOnline and the Moneyline +300 at Bovada, we'll take a stab at both.
Free Tennis Pick: Podoroska +5 games (+107) with BetOnline
Free Tennis Pick: Podoroska ML (+300) with Bovada