Day 3 of the French Open is already trading at online sports betting shops and it promises to be a stellar day with many brilliant matchups to spot, including Djokovic & Nadal's first round matches.
Andreas Seppi +200 vs. John Isner -275
We begin by casting our eye on the clash between the big-serving American John Isner and Italy's Andreas Seppi, which is set on a rather modest tennis betting line, all things being considered. The interesting bit in the context of tennis betting: Isner is the favourite at -275 tennis odds while Seppi is the underdog at +200 tennis odds. That's most unusual on clay when an American player is involved. Budding tennis players don't have as much exposure to clay Stateside as they do in Europe, so they tend to struggle on the unforgiving surface.
Another interesting caveat to this tennis betting outlook is the fact that the pair are level 1-1 head-to-head, but with Seppi winning their only clay court clash – a three set win in Rome in 2012 (2-6, 7-6(5), 7-5). To be fair, Isner has the ranking edge over Seppi – he's ranked 16th in the world behind a solid 18-12 start to the season (amongst other things), and the Italian is down to 39th in the World, albeit he has a positive 13-9 start to his credit, which includes dumping Federer at the Australian Open.
Where Seppi comes up short is on clay preparation this season, which could explain this tennis betting market stance. He only played one match in Monte Carlo (l. to Robredo) and then missed the rest of the clay court season. Isner, by contrast, has had a pretty good clay court run this season. Better than most would have predicted with a 9-4 record, that includes a semi-final appearance in Nice last week (l. to eventual champion Thiem). It must be pointed out that none of those matches were easy: six were three setters while the rest featured very close two-setters in both wins and losses.
As far as placing out tennis picks on this match, we appreciate why Isner comes into this first round clash as the favourite at -275. He has the form and, perhaps, confidence. Seppi, however, isn't going to be a pushover. He's a dogged player that won't be a pushover. The fact that he doesn't have many matches under his belt could work in his favour in that he'll be the fresher player of the two. There's only so much 6'10" Isner can handle on this surface. And in the best of five scenario, we quite fancy Seppi to pull off the upset in terms of the tennis odds (but it really won't be an upset in terms of surface advantage).
Tennis Picks: Seppi to win +200 at BetOnline.
Bonus Tennis Picks: to win in four at +650 or five sets at +750
Grigor Dimitrov -350 vs. Jack Sock +250
Just as we said American's don't favour clay court surfaces, we come across one of the best young American prospects that actually does play rather well on clay: Jack Sock. The rising American star is 37th in the world and boasts a positive 11-5 win-loss record ahead of the French Open, which includes winning his maiden title in Houston. For the uninitiated tennis fan: that's a clay court event. Despite his budding clay court prowess, he enters his first round clash as the significant +250 underdog. That's understandable given Grigor Dimitrov is the 11th ranked player in the world and is an all surface player. The Bulgarian also has the 1-0 edge over Sock having beaten him in Stockholm last year (hard). Dimitrov is 18-10 on the season with, which includes a 9-4 record on clay and back-to-back quarterfinals at the Monte Carlo Masters and Rome Masters. On paper, this is a match that Dimitrov should win. In reality, it might not be as straightforward as the tennis odds would suggest. It's going to be a lot tougher. A potential first round match that could go the distance between two young players that still have a lot to prove. Dimitrov at -350 may be the popular tennis betting pick, but American fans can take heart in the fact that Sock is a value tennis pick at +250 tennis odds. He's 6-3 on clay coming into Paris and has plenty upside to make him worth your wagering consideration for the upset here.
Tennis Pick: Sock +250
Novak Djokovic -20000 vs. Jarkko Nieminen +3300
Nobody is going to bet against Djokovic in his opening match, surely. No matter how tempting the tennis odds are on Nieminen at +3300. Reality is those paying out are as unlikely as the sun not rising in the morning. This should be a good match for Djokovic to ease into his French Open campaign. Nieminen is a wily veteran that can make Djokovic think out there. Maybe even take a set off him, just to make things interesting. In fact, the head-to-head record stands at 4-1 to Djokovic, but all the matches were close contests.
The outright win markets are absurdly priced so those looking to cash on the Serbian starlet may fancy set betting markets, where he's a more reasonable -800 to win in straight sets and at +450 to win in four sets. Given the pressure and the excitement that precedes Djokovic into this tournament, don't be surprised if Nieminen does take a set off him.
Tennis Picks: Djokovic to win in four sets at +450
Quentin Halys +3300 vs. Rafael Nadal -20000
The nine-time champion and defending champion Rafael Nadal begins his quest for a historic 10th French Open title against an unheralded Quentin Halys, an 18-year-old Frenchman that ranks at No, 296 in the world. It goes without saying, the entire stadium is going to be against Nadal. France may hope the French flag flies high in this matchup, but the odds makers aren't holding out much hope. It's another absurd tennis betting line not even worth the tickle. So on to set betting where there's better value to be had. One assumes Nadal is the sure tennis pick in this matchup and that he's going to win in straight sets at -900 tennis odds. With all the scrutiny on Nadal and the home edge factor for Halys, there's a slim possibility he could take a set off the great Spaniard. That's a bet matched at +500 tennis odds. More likely than not, Nadal will win in straight sets. Or colour the world shocked.
Tennis Picks: Nadal in straight sets -900
Tim Smyczek +800 vs. Kevin Anderson -1400
Our final matchup of the day's tennis betting card features American Tim Smyczek at +800 tennis odds against Kevin Anderson at -1400 tennis odds to win outright. The tennis betting line represents the disparity in ranking between these two players more than anything else: Anderson is in the top 20 while Smyczek is ranked 73rd in the world.
Clay is a great neutraliser between players that don't actually fancy the surface. Both are hard courters and that fact should be represented in a much closer tennis betting line than the one currently trading. Anderson still deserves to be the favourite, on the strength of his ranking and a 2-0 record over Smyczek. Those things amount to confidence. That said this match could be more drawn out and closer than the tennis odds would have you believe. Tiny possibility of the upset exits, which would make a bet on Smyczek the bet of the day at +800. But we're leaning towards a four set or five set clash with Anderson prevailing ever so slightly and that can be backed at +275 (four sets) or +800 (five sets).
Tennis Picks: Anderson +275 in four sets