Tennis Betting Advice - October 2020

French Open: Day 5 – The Sophomore Slump…

Thursday 1st October 2020

In your Ones to Watch email today:

  • French Open – Day 5…
  • Play starts 10am…
  • Our friend Sonya at 40/1…

Welcome to Day 5 of the French Open…

Game on…

The bottom half of the women’s draw already had the familiar wide-open Grand Slam look to it.

After both Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka departed the competition yesterday, the same can be said of the top half, too…

Serena pulled out before her 2nd round match, citing an Achilles injury. Don’t expect to see Williams until 2021 now.

Azarenka was knocked out in straight sets, by a shock 6-2, 6-2 score, to 7/1 match underdog Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

  • That’s two of the favourites gone from the women’s Outright Winner market. With no.1 seed Simona Halep now consolidated as the clear favourite, at 2/1 and shorter

The repeaters…

I couldn’t help but have a wry smile to myself at that Schmiedlova result. Seeing as the world no.161 had been our 25/1 pick on clay at WTA Istanbul last month, only to crash out in the 2nd round.

We’ve spoken in the past about Ones to Watch ‘repeaters.’ That is, players that go on to win or do well in events, not long after we back them…

On occasions, this can mean we end up reaching for that old betting cliché, the one that got away.

Other times, we stoically stick to backing our player, optimistic that the faith will be rewarded in the long run…

That’s why, for example, you & I made sure we were on Sofia Kenin, time after time.

Last season, I put ‘Sonya’ Kenin up as a tournament pick on no fewer than seven occasions. The best runs we got for our money were a semi final and a quarter final.

In 2019 events where we didn’t back Sonya, she made four WTA finals, and won three.

At the start of this year, we kept Kenin on our side. With the American appearing on our pre-season One to Watch in 2020 list.

In January, we took 20/1 in Brisbane, and 10/1 in Adelaide, only to see the 21-year-old go out in the 2nd round at both…

Not to be disheartened, we backed Kenin at 50/1 for the Australian Open. And the rest, as they say, is history.

With Sonya landing the odds at 50/1 Each Way, she more than repaid those nine other occasions where we didn’t see a return on our stakes.

This is a long-term game, for long-term gains. It doesn’t always work out. But if we keep on the large side of the odds, as we do, then we’ll enjoy our fair share of success.

  • Looking ahead to 2021, Dayana Yastremska is a player we’ve backed five times since the start of last year. To my mind, the Ukrainian is in the same bracket as Kenin was – on the cusp of a big Grand Slam run, soon enough. The Ukrainian is already out of Roland Garros. We’ll keep her on the radar for next year’s Majors

Back to the present day…

Bravely walking the barren plains…

We’ve spent much of week one of the French Open building up our Outright Winner book.

One of our picks is Polish teenager, Iga Swiatek. This is the third time in this shortened 2020 season that we’ve backed the Ones to Watch youngster in the tournament markets. Having previously taken 150/1 in Australia, and 33/1 in Rome.

The 19-year-old has won both her 1st & 2nd round matches in straight sets, and looks very much like she means business here. The oddsmakers now have Swiatek at 16/1 – 25/1, from a standout 100/1 and 80/1 before play began, and 33/1+ in general.

The full set of names in our current men’s & women’s Outright Winner book:

  • Stan Wawrinka (33/1+)
  • Andrey Rublev (50/1+)
  • Casper Ruud (150/1)
  • Jannik Sinner (150/1)
  • Iga Swiatek (33/1+)
  • Elena Rybakina (25/1)
  • Fiona Ferro (50/1+)

In total, we’ve backed 10 players. With seven still standing as I write. As the mantra goes – it only takes one…

As we’ve alluded to already today, there are no guarantees whatsoever that ‘the one’ will come here in Paris this fortnight. I stick to my guns, unwavering, faithful that the Big One will arrive when it arrives.

The areas of the Outright Winner markets that we hunt in can be barren plains, arid and unforgiving, with the occasional mirage on the horizon to tempt or tease us.

But the dry spells don’t last forever. And when the prize comes into view, it’s lush with greenery, and we eat and drink our fill.

Ten bets so far in Paris might feel like a lot, I know. Especially when you don’t see any immediate return on your stakes. But look at it this way:

Across the men’s & women’s draws combined, 256 players lined up at the start of the tournament. With our 10 players, we’ve only covered 4% of the field. And crucially, at the odds we work with, we don’t need to be sweating on a high strike rate of winners. The occasional Big One is the Holy Grail.

Price is key. That’s why we’re adding two more names today, both with the ‘repeater’ potential we’ve been talking about…

The Sophomore Slump…

First up, we return to our friend Sonya…

Sofia Kenin might be an eyebrow-raising pick here. But allow me to explain…

The post-Grand Slam slump is a common phenomenon. Time and time again, we’ve seen a player win their first Major, then fade badly in tournaments immediately after.

One glaring example in the women’s game in recent years is Sloane Stephens. The American was a 40/1 winner for this column at the US Open 2017.

After that defining New York display, Stephens drifted away sharply, losing eight matches in a row. Including a 1st round exit at the following Slam, the Australian Open.

It took some six months and more before the American bounced back, winning Miami at 66/1, then reaching the French Open 2018 final at 50/1 (runner-up). In that time, the odds offered up for Stephens were able to drift back to something near her pre-Grand Slam level.

We got on Stephens during that French Open return to form.

I reckon we’re at or approaching that high-price, bounce-back point with Kenin now…

I can’t name a player on tour that hates losing as much as Sonya does. Her French Open build-up consisted of a 6-0, 6-0 whitewash at the hands of Azarenka in Rome. Kenin had never suffered a ‘double bagel’ defeat like that on tour before. I’m willing to bet she’ll never have one again.

That humiliating score-line could turn out to the bottom point of Sonya’s slump. It’s only back up from here. And it’s not like she’s fallen too far since winning her maiden Grand Slam title at Melbourne in January. There haven’t been many tournaments to play in, for a start.

After lifting the Aussie Open trophy, Kenin lost in the 1st round of her next two WTA events. The familiar post-Slam slump pattern was halted by a title win in Lyon in March, where she franked short 11/4 (3.75) odds as the favourite. That turned out to be the last activity before lockdown.

Since returning to competitive action this summer, Sofia reached a credible 4th round at the US Open, bookended by 1st round losses at Cincinnati and Rome.

A slow start here in these tricky French Open conditions is understandable. A hard-fought 2-1 win in 1st round, with a rain delay in the middle, shows, if nothing, Kenin’s grit and determination.

Her statement after that match could easily be repeated many years from now at the end of her career:

“I just wanted to fight for every point, and that's about it.”

Kenin could play herself into form here. This bottom half of the draw is there to be attacked.

Today’s opponent needs to be respected, but the world no.6 has plenty of presence to put the wobbles on 27-year-old, world no.93, Ana Bogdan.

If she comes through this one, then Sonya will be short odds to win in the 3rd round, too.

After that, she could face one of our two picks, Rybakina or Ferro (play each other today in 2nd round), and that would be for a place in the quarter finals.

Odds of 40/1 and 33/1 appeal. This feels like an unfashionable pick right now, but that’s more than fine with me. I believe Kenin is here to stay at the top of the women’s game.

66/1 and 50/1 has plenty of juice…

Last but not least, we return to the player that reached the US Open quarter finals for us at 150/1 last month.

Tsvetana Pironkova was a similar price in the French Open betting yesterday morning – before her 2nd round opponent Serena Williams pulled out, that is.

With Azarenka then knocked out soon after, the prices obviously took some readjustment.

I almost emailed you yesterday afternoon. But experience told me to wait for the dust to settle. With Williams & Azarenka gone from this section of the draw, and Yulia Putintseva crashing out, too. Pironkova’s price dropped right down to 33/1.

The Outright Winner market has settled down overnight. And we can now get 66/1 and 50/1 for Pironkova, which is what I was hoping for after yesterday’s turn of events.

If we take the Outright price and work backwards, as we did to identify the Bulgarian as value in New York. The 50/1 is more than fair enough today, seeing as Pironkova was 150/1 before Serena withdrew, and was 2/1 to beat the American if the match had gone ahead.

That win would’ve, mathematically, taken the 150/1 price down to 50/1. And that’s before you even factor in Azarenka going out.

Pironkova’s part of the draw looks tantalising now. She can’t meet Halep until the semi final. If she gets that far – and she’s capable of doing so – then 66/1 or 50/1 Each Way would be a great ticket to have in hand.

Ones to Watch:

Outright Winner picks – Each Way

French Open – Women’s:

  • Sofia Kenin is 40/1 with Bet365, Ladbrokes, Coral, NetBet, 10Bet, 33/1 in general
  • Tsvetana Pironkova is 66/1 with Betfred, 50/1 Skybet, Boylesports, NetBet, 10Bet, 40/1 in general

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

Play starts from 10am and runs throughout the day.

You can watch the French Open live on the Eurosport channels, website & app. On selected bookie websites with a funded account. And on ITV4.

I’ll be back tomorrow morning with your Day 6 email.

Enjoy the tennis…

Best wishes,

Oliver Upstone

Tom Wilson

Ones to Watch