French Open – Week 1, Friday

Fewer games today so may be easier to concentrate on just 1 or 2 at the same time.

 

Both Ferrer and Federer are at short prices against decent opposition in Stakhovsky and Tipsarevic. I’ll be watching these for better prices to back at.

Update: Straight sets wins for both favourites.

 

Fognini takes on Garcia-Lopez. I would have expected the prices to be nearer evens for this one but Fognini is at 1.64 on Betfair. Fognini has had two very solid wins in the previous rounds whereas Garcia-Lopez had a 4 hour 5 set match yesterday and a 4 set match in the first round. G-L also played doubles yesterday with Montanes and they would appear to have thrown that match (6-2, 6-1) to conserve energy for the singles. Fognini has been good on serve and has seemed to be up for the fight so far. Its always a nervous experience to be backing him and 1.62 seems too low. I may put a small back on him and then monitor the match with a view to managing the position from there. Fognini is slight favourite for me IF he can keep playing the way he has in the previous 2 rounds.

Update: This resembled a WTA match at times. Fognini won 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-1.

 

Montanes v Youzhny: Head to head is 2-0 to the Russian but they have never played on clay. Youzhny has yet to lose a set although he came close in both matches. Hopefully he will be more focussed against a recognised claycourter. Montanes almost looked like he was trying to lose his match against Ramirez Hidalgo. He was a break up in the first set and lost it in a tie break where ( I think) he was a mini break up. It wasn’t until the third set where he started to show some real form. As I said above Montanes threw his doubles match yesterday so he wants to do well in the singles  and maybe we’ll see the real Albert from the start.

Whoever wins this match is unlikely to do it in straight sets. Youzhny isn’t as solid on serve lately and he seems to take a few games to get fired up. He has lost some intensity that used to make him a force to be reckoned with. Even though Montanes is slight underdog on Betfair I would give him a slight edge today. Ofcourse that requires him to perform at his best and not many players have done that this week ( or this clay season for that matter). This is one to wait before getting involved. I need to see which versions of these players turn up but I feel if Montanes wants it badly enough he has the tools to get the job done.

Update: Youzhny put up a bit of a fight in the second set but Montanes won 6-1, 7-6, 6-1.

 

Wawrinka v Tsonga: These 2 players are both in decent form going into this match. Wawrinka has fought through a bad start to the season but seems to have some confidence back. He did manage to lose the first set of his first round match against Gensse but has played well since. Tsonga is playing as well as he has for a while and has yet to lose a set. You have to expect that the French crowd will be up for this match and they can be very intimidating for the opposition. Tsonga is a player who can produce his best tennis when he gets fired up and even though Wawrinka is perhaps a better clay court player I am going with Tsonga to win. Probably not 3 sets though and it should be a great battle.

Update: It was definately a battle. Tsonga took the first set and Wawrinka started much better in the second racing to a 4-1 lead. Tsonga fought back to take the set in a tie break. The third set also went to a tiebreak but this time Wawrinka took it.  Wawrinka ttok the next 2 sets to win 4-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-2, 6-3.

 

Gasquet v Bellucci: Two more players in great form, Betfair has Gasquet as slight favourite at 1.69 . Gasquet has never reached the last 16 at RG but he has recently played some great tennis. The worry here is that against Granollers he went back to his tactic of just getting the ball back and hoping for his opponent to make errors. He is at his best when he is going for his shots. Bellucci beat Seppi surprisingly easily in the last round and you’d expect he likes his chances of a good run in this tournament. If Gasquet plays passively he will lose. If he plays aggressively from the start he is the better player. Don’t expect to see only 3 sets though.

Update: Gasquet broke in Bellucci’s first service game and it looked like he was going to run away with the match. Bellucci fought back in the third set but Gasquet won 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

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