The draw for the French Open is happening right now. I’ll do a write up on that at some point on Saturday in time for them to kick off on Sunday. Qualifying rounds are being continued today. Betfair are covering them although make sure you have a reliable scoreboard. The one I was using on the Goffin/Sousa match was a point ahead of bet365. Lovely start to the day 😉
Stepanek v L Mayer
They have played twice before and won a match each. Both matches were on hard courts.
Mayer is an excellent clay courter who has been struggling with his form. However this week he seems to have found his serve which is a strong weapon when its working. He has won both his matches this week beating Ito of Japan ( who beat Stepanek) and also America’s Ryan Harrison in 3 sets.
Stepanek won his other match against James Blake although Blake often performs poorly away from the motherland.
Both men have a big serve at their disposal. Mayer has the better pedigree as far as clay courts are concerned but Stepanek can make himself very difficult to beat. This is one to wait a few games before getting involved. I think the starting price on Stepanek of 1.53 is a little low although my gut says he takes this one. I expect a very tight match as long as Mayer can keep serving as he has been.
Update: A very tight match with just 1 break in the first 2 sets. In the third Mayer was broken first but Stepanek’s serve was broken twice as Mayer took the match 6-7, 7-5, 6-4.
Davydenko v Baker:
Baker’s amazing week continued last night as he beat Kukushkin in a third set tie break. I missed the first 3 or 4 games as we were eating but when I joined the match Baker didn’t seem to be playing well at all, certainly not in comparison to his Monfils match. Kukushkin took the set and looked like ending Baker’s dream. However the American won an early break in the second and despite lots of pressure from Kukushkin he managed to hold on for the set. In the third Baker came out like rocket and his aggressive play won him the first break. This set saw by far the best tennis of the match from both players and in the end they were each broken twice. Baker saved a match point at 5-6 but took the match into the tie break which he won 7-4.
Many people were hoping to see an Isner v Baker semi final but Davydenko had other ideas. Isner never looked comfortable in the first set. Having lost the set Isner played a little better in the second and took that to a tie break but Davydenko turned back the clock to play some excellent tennis. He didn’t seem to have much trouble reading the Isner serve although his break in the 3rd game of the match was to be the only one.
Davydenko served 83% of first serves in but today they were more effective. He won 80% of those first serve points. His second serve was weak and he won just 46% of points on it. You can’t help feeling that Baker will be looking to take advantage of those.
They have never played so its hard to know how they will cope with the other’s game. Baker feels that return of serve is one of his strengths. Its an area that Isner doesn’t excel in and could be the difference today. Davy won’t be giving him as many second serves as Monfils did though.
Baker has nothing to lose today but everything to gain. He has already made people sit up and notice him this week but to reach the final would be amazing.
Davydenko starts at 1.50 . That seems a little low even though he is playing an opponent 158 places below him. I wouldn’t want to pick a winner. Davydenko may have lost some of his sharpness but his experience will perhaps give him an edge. Having said that I would love to see Baker win and reach the final. Tennis can get a bit “samey” week after week and stories like this are fantastic for the sport.
I’ll be having a speculative lay at the start with part stake and see how they start.
Update: The dream continues! Baker won 6-7, 6-4, 6-2. Unfortunately I missed the last 2 sets.