After going a perfect three from three with his French Open Qualifying bets last night, our tennis expert "Ace" is back with some more great tennis tips for Tuesday 22nd May.
Conditions: A couple of thunderstorms, top of 24 degrees.
I really thought Kovalik would have used his ATP Sofia Semi Final appearance (lost to Copil) as a bit of a springboard for the claycourt season of 2018, however it just never really came together. He has floated along without ever consistently progressing a great deal in all of his Challenger tournaments (except for a Semi Final appearance in Santiago – lost to Gomez-Herrera). That being said, when you look at his losses since then (3 sets to Bolelli who made Quarter Final and has lifted in form since, 2 tight sets to Domingues who made the Semi Final, 2 tight sets to Dutra Silva who went on to lose to Ramos in 3 sets in 2nd round of main draw Barcelona, led by a break in 1st set vs Thiem in Barcelona after entering as a LL, lost to Klizan who made main draw QF and lost in 3 sets to Safranek 2 weeks ago), it isn’t the worst form you have ever seen.
Kovalik knows he has what it takes to qualify for the Main Draw at Roland Garros – he did just that last year, defeating Sijsling, Vanni and Gombos on the way to the main draw, before losing to Wawrinka in the first round. Quite a big striker of the ball, Kovalik will thrive on the more consistent claycourt conditions that are available at Roland Garros compared to some of those lower level tournaments, where big hitting and ball striking can fluctuate more with conditions. After a more impressive 2016 and 2017 claycourt seasons, I think Kovalik will take great confidence returning to Roland Garros after his efforts here last year.
I am just not sure about Vatutin to be completely honest with you. I am still not sure if his performance in Marrakech (went through qualifying to make the ¼ finals) is an accurate reflection of his ability, because his performance outside of that week has been pretty poor recently. Losses to Molleker, Masur, Fratangelo and Moutet haven’t filled me with the same positivity that Kovalik’s losses. I have been following Vatutin more closely since he *just* scraped across the line when we backed him to defeat De Minaur in Marrakech, after leading a set and 2-0, losing 4 games in a row (and the set), leading 3-1 in the third set before breaking serve in to 10th game to claim it 6-4.
Vatutin’s best can be very good, but it seems to come along in small spurts. For example, in July last year Vatutin rattled off a Germany F7 Futures title, then backed up with a Poznan Challenger title, then made the SF of the Tampere Challenger the following week. Take out that spurt and he is 10-13 on clay for the rest of the season, 4 of which came in Marrakech. This is arguably one of the bigger matches for Vatutin’s career, with this being only his second attempt at trying to qualify for a Grand Slam (lost to Soeda 3-6 0-6 in 2nd round of AO Qualifying this year).
When you consider the form of both players, the conditions, as well as the experience that both players have at ATP and Grand Slam Qualifying level, I have to side with Kovalik to get the job done here. I think the high quality clay conditions are perfect for his game style on clay, and I am happy to take his game here against the up-and-down Vatutin. Kovalik should get the job done comfortably here in my opinion, however I think there is enough value in the head to head price to warrant a solid play here.
Conditions: Mostly cloudy, with showers developing, top of 23 degrees
Since his performance in Istanbul, Vesely has started to round into a bit of form – the form that we know he is capable of on clay. It isn’t quite the form that saw him beat Novak Djokovic in Monte Carlo in 2016, but it is better than what Vesely has brought to the table in recent months. In Istanbul, Vesely beat Gimeno-Traver in straight sets, before defeating Monteiro in a 3rd set tiebreak. Vesely was unable to convert a great start vs Jaziri however, falling in the ¼ finals in 3 sets.
I think a big reason for the odds available for Rosol today is the performance of Vesely in the Challenger tournament in Heilbronn last week. On the surface, appearing in a claycourt Challenger final in the week previous is pretty decent form. When you look through the matches of the week though, you’d be shocked if he hadn’t made the final. His wins include:
- 2 set win over Moeller at $1.07
- 3 set win over Sijsling at $1.22
- 2 set win over Laaksonen at $1.30
- 2 set win over Majchrzak at $1.33
As I said, not the most competitive draw there for Vesely. It is his performance in the final that actually concerned me more than anything. Vesely found himself against 17 year old Molleker in the Final, with Vesely starting at around the $1.25 mark. He got off to a strong start, taking the first set 6-4, and you’d have thought with his class and experience he should have ran away with the match from there against a younger, inexperienced opponent. Instead, he was broken in both the second and third sets when he was serving to stay in the set/match.
I have watched a couple of Rosol’s matches over the last month or two, and it is really nice to see that his drive and determination is back. It had been missing for quite a while, however it is just nice to see him back attacking on court.
His performances over the last few months has been quite hit and miss, however he appears to be improving gradually with each tournament he is playing. His 3 set loss against Daniel is reasonable form considering his title recently, and I was really impressed with Rosol in qualifying, especially after his 13-15 first set tiebreak loss to Jahn. He was able to overcome that and finish quite strongly, which really impressed me.
Qualifying form is good form.
There are equal parts of the following being taken into consideration when I make this play:
1) Qualifying form of Rosol
2) Overrating of the form of Vesely last week
3) Opposing Vesely coming off a Challenger final
I have a lot of confidence in Rosol getting the job done here at a pretty tasty price, however I feel the best value in this match lies with Rosol winning a set here as an underdog. He has the form and ability to take it to Vesely, and I think with bookmakers blinded by the shortsighted form of the favourite.
My tip: Rosol to win in 3 sets
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