Welcome to our preview of the 2018 French Open Men's Draw. Our chief tennis expert "Ace" has analysed each section of the draw and provides his top pick and value play for each quarter.
I thought I would take a bit of time to preview each quarter of the Men’s Draw of the French Open, giving you an indication of who I think should win each quarter, as well as any longer odds selections that may present a trading option. Whilst there is one big favourite in Rafael Nadal, is there value elsewhere in the draw?
Here are my thoughts. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me on Twitter (@Ace_TheProfits).
Always hard to find value in a quarter that has Rafael Nadal. That being said, for the quarter winner market, you’d be looking in the 1/8 of the draw that wouldn’t meet Nadal until a potential Quarter Final.
Players of Interest:
* Should have no trouble in round 1 vs Dolgopolov coming off limited tennis.
* Cannot see anyone troubling him significantly in the first 4 rounds. Out of potential opponents, including Pella/Sousa, Gasquet, Shapovalov and Sock, I cannot see any being a threat in the best-of-5 set format.
* Looking to potential 1/4 final opponents, still cannot see a threat unless Schwartzman/Cuevas/Anderson/Coric/Kohlschreiber play career best tennis by a long way. I just cannot see it.
The other side to Nadal:
* No major standouts here. As I mentioned above, there are a couple of players who could find themselves in a Quarter Final. The winner of Coric/Kohlschreiber would take a lot of confidence from that match, and on current form it is probably the winner of Coric/Kohlschreiber vs Schwartzman could see themselves in a Quarter Final next week.
Nadal, Nadal, Nadal. There are so many matches and possibilities to attack outside of Nadal this fortnight. I think I would personally sit this quarter out.
Rafael Nadal ($1.14 at Sportsbet)
Diego Schwartzman ($23 – Topsport)
Is this Fabio Fognini’s biggest chance to make the Semi Final of a Grand Slam? Arguably one of the best players in this quarter on clay, and with injury doubts over Del Potro and form concerns for Marin Cilic, this could be the year.
Players of Interest:
* One of those players who tends to get better as the Grand Slam progresses.
* Should have no trouble in round 1, however he will find decent clay opponents as early as round 2.
* Too short on form? I think so.
Juan Martin Del Potro
* Anyone who strains their groin within a week of Roland Garros is someone to watch only from a distance.
* Has the power to hit through the slower clay, however along with Cilic, the form just isn’t there for me to take at a low price with concerns over his fitness.
* 21-9 record at Roland Garros.
* When you go through the list, it (almost) always takes a good player to beat him. The list of 9 includes Nadal, Wawrinka (twice), Djokovic, Monfils and Paire are all on the list to beat Fognini since 2010.
* Main concern is the slight knee injury which he mentioned to Nadal at the net after their 3 set match last week. Although hampered and taped, still seemed to be moving quite well.
* Showed at the Australian Open that he isn’t afraid of playing in the big time.
* Solid form last few weeks, with a Madrid Quarter Final and Marrakech Final appearance.
* Has the fitness the ability to trouble most players in this section on his current form.
* Assuming he overcomes De Minaur in round 1, should find himself in a battle with Fognini in Round 3, which I think shapes this section.
* Many are fans of Isner on clay. I was a few years ago, but I wonder if his best performances in best-of-5 set tennis have been and gone?
* 7-4 record in best-of-5 set matches in the last 12 months, with losses to Sela, Lorenzi, Ebden and Khachanov.
* 9-6 record in best-of-5 set tennis since the start of 2016.
* Played better at Madrid (higher altitude), however losses to Ramos and Norrie the last 2 weeks are cause for concern.
I think the winner of this quarter is going to come from the potential match-up between Fognini and Edmund. I think there are enough concerns regarding form and fitness to take on Cilic/Del Potro/Isner, and these two seem to be the best option. If Fognini was definitely at 100% then I would confidently take him (well as confidently as you could take Fognini with anything), but instead I cannot split Fognini/Edmund from a value perspective.
Leonardo Mayer ($81 at Sportsbet) – Could really benefit from Del Potro not at 100% fitness.
Not a whole lot of players in this section that are in a great deal of form. Who can stop the Goffin vs Djokovic Quarter Final? Can Monfils lift his form? Can Klizan make a run? Can Dimitrov find some form and shake things up? Or will it be Kyrgios? Potential everywhere!
Players of Interest:
* A really interesting prospect here for a few reasons.
* Yes, his form hasn’t quite lived up to “Vintage Novak”, but what we have seen the last few weeks is that physically he is in a good spot.
* I would say that it is probably easier for guys outside the top 10 to potentially beat Djokovic in best-of-3 tennis, but this is a different prospect.
* One to beat in this section
* Very solid couple of weeks of tennis, losing only to Nadal, Edmund and Zverev.
* Struggled early in the clay season adjusting after his eye injury from late February.
* Not as dominant against some of the lower ranked opponents as you would like to see, however he has been gradually building over the course of the clay season.
* Think he has everyone’s measure in best-of-5 in this section except for Djokovic and perhaps a Klizan/Monfils/Kyrgios type player on a good day. Think he can cover Dimitrov in best-of-5 on clay currently.
* Can take time to ease into Grand Slams, but with Haase first up and not getting easier from there, he needs to be on from Day 1.
* Coming into this match with 3 losses in a row is not the form you like to see from such a confidence player in Dimitrov.
* Only 2 wins in straight sets for the whole clay season (vs Simon and Goffin) to date is disappointing in my opinion.
* Can we trust him on form?
Of the other players, Monfils/Klizan/Kyrgios/Carreno Busta/Bautista Agut are all around the mark, but I think Monfils/Klizan/Kyrgios wouldn’t be able to sustain it for five matches to win the quarter, and I think Carreno Busta and Bautista will find at least one player that is far too good for them on their day. I am not ignoring them by any means, but I would rather focus on their general head-to-head matches throughout the tournament.
Novak is clearly the one to beat here, however I would personally like to see how he plays in round 1 first. There are a lot of players with either poor form or massive potential in this group. If there is a Quarter to have a massive upset, I think it is this one.
Novak Djokovic ($3 at Crownbet)
Martin Klizan ($41 at Crownbet)
One to Watch
WHAT ON EARTH IS THIEM DOING IN LYON THIS WEEK?! With each passive three set victory in Lyon, Thiem’s energy levels diminish ever so slightly prior to arguably the biggest tournament of the year on the Austrian’s calendar. What was looking more like a battle of two edges moreso toward Alex Zverev being to clear pick in this group. That will only strengthen if Thiem plays another 3 sets against Gilles Simon in the final in Lyon.
Players of Interest
* On form he is the best chance of beating Rafael Nadal in Paris.
* The biggest worry? That it is best-of-5 set tennis this week.
* Zverev has a 7-5 record in best-of-5 set tennis in the last 12 months, with a 16-14 record for his career.
* Zverev has one win over a top 50 player in best-of-5 se0t tennis (1 wins 9 losses), against an injured Nick Kyrgios in Davis Cup. That record has to change eventually, doesn’t it?
* Only one I would want money on in this quarter.
* Not putting a line through him completely, but his scheduling pre Grand Slam is borderline ridiculous. Only way I can see him being a threat later in the tournament is if he is incredibly dominant in the early rounds. As a player that can sometimes spend more time on court that they perhaps should be based on ability, that is of great concern for mine.
* Yes he can beat Rafael Nadal, but it takes flat out hitting from start to finish. It is doable in best-of-3 sets, however this is a different beast.
* Yet to stand up at Grand Slam level in the massive moments, but if it all comes together he can beat anyone on his day. The question is: will it be his day?
* Not a fan of taking Nishikori in long term or future betting purely because he has struggled to keep his body together when it matters.
* Has the edge over the likes Dimitrov/Goffin/Cilic in my opinion, but just not sure his body can hold up on clay to be a threat come the end of the tournament, as much as I would love to see it and think he deserves it.
* Way under the odds returning from injury.
* Hasn’t looked great getting through best-of-3 tennis let alone a Grand Slam.
* Would be a monumental story if he made it out of this quarter – I just cannot see it personally.
* Interesting one here, as he hasn’t been playing well this year but his draw may allow him to really play himself into form.
* Losses to Millman, Edmund, Paire and Mischa Zverev are concerning though.
* May make a run with the crowd behind him, however I cannot see him progressing past round 3 or 4 on current form.
* If his form builds, I may consider some plays on him (and the crowd) as an underdog later in the tournament.
If he plays the way he has been playing the last month, then this quarter is Zverev’s to lose. I am really curious to see how he goes here. The expectations have increased dramatically, so let’s see what the young German is capable of so early in his career. Once the hunter, he is now the hunted.
Alex Zverev ($2.75 at Crownbet)
Benoit Paire ($67 at Sportsbet)
Of all the suggestions above, I think the $2.75 for Zverev to win his Quarter is probably the best value play of the bunch.
I would love to hear your thoughts on Twitter – who is your best bet?
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