Tennis Betting Advice - May 2021

French Open: Day 2 – 150/1 and a new coach…

Monday 31st May 2021

In your Ones to Watch email today:

  • Day 2…
  • The case for Casper…
  • 150/1 and 125/1 outsiders…

Good morning and welcome to Day 2 of your French Open 2021 daily service.

I’ll be in your inbox every morning for the next fortnight. And if you have any questions or want to drop me a line during the tournament, I’ll be on hand via email.

You can get in touch at:  

Best of five…

Men’s 4th seed and two-time former French Open runner-up, Dominic Thiem, is out. The Austrian lost 2-3 to Pablo Andujar, from 2-0 up. Andujar was 6/1 pre-match, and any price when you like when two sets down on the scoreboard.

The 6th seed almost went the same way. Alexander Zverev went 0-2 down to fellow German, Oscar Otte. Before finding his game and turning it around, to prevail 3-2.

Those two results got me thinking about the old debate once again – what if men’s Grand Slam matches were best of three sets, and not five? There’s a growing case for it in the background these days. Best of three is the women’s format, across the board. And it’s what’s played at every other men’s event throughout the season, on the ATP Tour.

For ‘modern audiences’ (I think that means people with shorter attention spans), the case is that switching to best of three sets at the Grand Slams would speed things up, and create more excitement. And I guess, to be fair, if a few of yesterday’s matches could have gone quicker, then Madison Keys wouldn’t have had to still be out on court at midnight. Her match was delayed throughout the evening by a men’s match being completed.

On the other hand, best of five is a unique format that creates plenty of drama and entertainment in its own right.

We’ll never know how these matches would’ve panned out if they were actually best of three, but in those two examples from yesterday, Thiem would still be in the competition – and Zverev would be out. Instead, of course, it’s the opposite.

I’ve actually done some research on the best of five v best of three question. I’ll share it with you when there’s more time. But one big example that springs to mind is Wimbledon 2013…

  • If it was best-of-three-sets: Andy Murray would’ve lost 2-0 v Fernando Verdasco in the quarter finals
  • Actual five-set result: Murray came back to win 3-2 – he went on to reach the final, and lift the Wimbledon trophy for the first time

Early days…

I could spend all morning writing to you about yesterday’s tennis. But that wouldn’t be the best use of our time, with play starting again from 10am – so, I’ll keep it brief regarding yesterday’s bets:

French youngster Clara Burel had an epic second set against Danko Kovinic that took an hour & 23 minutes. My 7/2 (4.5) pick for the 2-1 Set Betting score, Burel failed to take her set point chance to take the match into a decider. Kovinic won 6-3, 7-6.

Match underdog Ana Konjuh got herself an early lead to go 4-2 ahead v 3rd seed Aryna Sabalenka, but couldn’t hold on to her serve long enough to secure the 4/1 first set bet (Sabalenka won 6-4, 6-3).

In the Outright Winner market, our three women’s Each Way picks all made good progress through to the 2nd round. Paula Badosa, Leylah Fernandez, and Veronika Kudermetova all winning in straight sets.

  • If you missed them yesterday, today’s revised market has Badosa a best price 22/1 with Bet365, and Fernandez 200/1. With Kudermetova 50/1 at Paddy Power & Betfair Sportsbook

Thanks to Ones to Watch member David C for writing in regarding the ‘Reach the Final’ market, too. David rightly points out that if you shop around, you can sometimes get a better price than the standard Outright/ Each Way odds. This morning, for example, Leylah Fernandez is 150/1 with Bet365 to ‘Reach the Final’ – compared to just 40/1 at Skybet.

Moving onto our Day 2 business now…

Men’s Outright Winner – big case for a first-time finalist…

As discussed in yesterday email, the men’s French Open draw is very much a tale of two halves. The odds-on tournament favourite, and the other big two household names, are all in the top half: 13-time Roland Garros champ Rafael Nadal, alongside world no.1 Novak Djokovic, and the man many call the GOAT (‘Greatest of All Time’), Roger Federer.

The general sentiment then is that the bottom half – the 3rd Quarter and 4th Quarter of the draw-sheet – is primed to propel one of the ‘Next Gen’ names to a first French Open final or title.

After Thiem was knocked out yesterday, that feeling has only grown stronger. With some pundits talking as if Alexander Zverev or Stefanos Tsitsipas are almost certain to be in the final. Nothing’s guaranteed in sport, and while those two guys are most definitely big contenders in this bottom half of the draw, actually getting over the line for that first Grand Slam title is a massive, massive task…

In the Outright betting, Zverev is 10/1 in general. And Tsitsipas is just 4/1 – the same price as Djokovic.

In their early days on the tour, those two young men both featured in my pre-season Ones to Watch reports. But I can’t be having those odds.

So, who could make a break in this men’s bottom half, at a more exhilarating price?

One name that’s high in our thoughts is Casper Ruud. The 22-year-old Norwegian is on our Ones to Watch in 2021 list. Last season, I put him up at 150/1 for the Rome Masters, where he reached the semi final (lost to Djokovic). We then had him at those same triple-figure odds for the French Open 2020 (3rd round, lost to Thiem).

This season, Ruud has continued to come close for us, at very attractive odds. Reaching another two Masters 1000 semi finals, as a 100/1 pick in Monte Carlo, then at 66/1 in Madrid.

Casper then lifted a title at the smaller, ATP 250-grade event in Geneva – also on clay – in a week where he went off as the 3/1 favourite. After all that, Ruud now sits at a new high of no.16 in the world.

With Thiem out, and the bottom half of this men’s draw missing the Big Three multiple Grand Slam champions Nadal, Djokovic & Federer. Ruud is going in the French Open book today, at Each Way odds of 33/1 in general, with William Hill offering a top price of 40/1.

  • In the other Outright markets, Ruud is 12/1 to Reach the Final, and 4/1 to win the 3rd Quarter (eg. get to semi final)
  • We’ll have plenty more to say about this bottom section of the men’s draw. I’ll return to the prices ahead of the 2nd round matches this week

Women’s Outright Winner – triple-figure outsiders…

In the women’s event, it’s the turn of the champions today. World no.1 and 2019 French Open winner Ash Barty, and teenage 2020 winner Iga Swiatek. Those two are the favourites for the title, and both in the top half of the draw. Swiatek is 11/4 (3.75), Barty is 5/1 (6.0).

I’ve got no argument with that pair as the favourites. But no-one has successfully defended a French Open women’s title since 2007. And in recent years – as we’ve seen to our benefit with several big-odds Ones to Watch selections – it really is the case that ‘anything can happen’ in the women’s Grand Slams…

With that in mind, I’m most certainly sticking to my guns with the big odds. Two players stand out for me in the top half of the draw, both available at odds of 100/1+…

As with Casper Ruud, Jessica Pegula has been a regular outsider pick for us in recent months, and has come close, without yet hitting on the big prize. The American is one of the tour’s big improvers since play resumed last summer. Reeling off a career-best run at the Australian Open this year, where she reached the quarter finals as a 100/1 pick.

Jessica backed that up with semi finals in Doha and Dubai, before showing she can play on clay, too – with a quarter final run at the big WTA 100 event in Madrid. I like Pegula’s game – she has a strong first serve, deep groundstrokes, plays some good angles, and constructs points well. Not many people really seem to talk about her, especially on clay, but I see Pegula as having both the patience and weapons to do well on this surface. She can build points and stay in rallies – essential on the red dirt. And Jessica can also pull the trigger and hit winners at the right time, too.

Petra Martic has been a big-price French Open pick for us before. Age 30, the Croatian might just have found the magic formula this season by appointing Francesca Schiavone as her new coach…

As a player, Schiavone worked hard on the mental aspects of the game, and it paid off massively – winning the French Open in 2010, then making the final again in 2011.

Since teaming up, Martic has already spoken of the improvement, both in her play, and more importantly even, her confidence and mindset. The new player/ coach pairing is showing signs of serious progress – after two 1st round losses on clay, Martic has made semi finals and quarter finals at her last two tournaments. I was impressed – and not a little surprised – when I saw how she was playing in Rome earlier this month.

Talking about the change since bringing Schiavone on board, Petra says:

“… a different voice, different mind, different view on tennis – I feel like it all kind of brought something, it woke me up a little bit. I started to feel my game a bit more. From one match to another, I really feel like my game is coming along again. That's really good news for me”

If any of the big names in the 2nd Quarter stumble (Swiatek, or another former French Open winner, Garbine Muguruza), then a 100/1+ outsider like Pegula or Martic just might be the surprise package to come through here.

Ones to Watch

Men’s Outright Winner – Each Way

Women’s Outright Winner – Each Way

  • Jessica Pegula is 125/1 with Bet365, Boylesports, 100/1 Skybet, BetVictor, Unibet, NetBet, 10Bet
  • Petra Martic is 150/1 with Bet365, Boylesports, 125/1 Skybet, BetVictor, Betfred, 100/1 Paddy Power, Betfair Sportsbook, Unibet, Betway, NetBet, 10Bet

Each Way terms: 1/2 odds 1-2 places.

I’ll be back tomorrow morning with your Day 3 email.

Enjoy the tennis…

Best wishes,

Oliver Upstone

Tom Wilson

Ones to Watch