The second week of the 2012 French Open begins today and after a reasonable first week on the Paris clay we head into week two with conditions on the change.
The weather has turned and court conditions will prove slower today than they have been of late which is worth bearing in mind when choosing today’s bets.
Saturday was close to being a very good one when Julien Benneteau went 4-1 up in the third set against Janko Tipsarevic, needing just to close out the set to see our bet home, but in typical style he lost five in a row to lose the set, match and wager.
But the other bet was a winner when Marcel Granollers and Paul-Henri Mathieu played out the predicted five set battle.
We have four men’s fourth round matches today and the first one up on Court Philippe Chatrier is world number one Novak Djokovic against Italy’s Andreas Seppi.
The second week is where the contenders really start to show their teeth and I can envisage Seppi taking a bit of a beating here.
Somewhat strangely, Seppi has started to play the best tennis of his career at the age of 28 and he’s moved inside the top-30 in the world off the back of some good wins on clay this season, but I can’t see him having the weaponry to worry Nole today.
Seppi doesn’t possess much in the way of power, with his forehand being his main source of winners, but his grinding style won’t cut it today against someone with more firepower and more athleticism.
They’ve met on seven occasions and it’s 7-0 to Djokovic, although Seppi did at least take a set in their clay meeting of 2009 in Belgrade.
If the Italian number one will be tired after a five setter against Fernando Verdasco in the previous round, Djokovic will be fresh after a stroll in his own last match against Nicolas Devilder.
I expect Nole to win this one pretty comfortably, but I’m not sure he’ll cover the 9.5 game handicap, so I’ll take Seppi to grind the match longer than 137.5 minutes in the slower conditions today at 1.87
The second match that I’ll be betting on today concerns French favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Swiss star Stan Wawrinka.
This pair met in an epic battle here last year with Wawrinka coming out on top and I’m expecting another long, fluctuating encounter again today - if they get on court with the forecast for plenty of rain.
I like Stan’s chances in this match as the slight underdog at 1.97 but he does tend to start matches quite slowly and you’ll probably get better value in running.
Wawrinka took care of another Frenchman, Gilles Simon, in the previous round but it took him far longer than it should have to get the job done after playing too conservatively for long periods against the defensive Simon.
We know that Stan has a better backhand than Tsonga, so I imagine we’ll see plenty of Wawrinka’s lovely one handed crosscourt backhand in play today and my feeling is that Tsonga will eventually become frustrated by the slow conditions and the Swiss will wear him down.
A wager on Wawrinka to win 3-2 is worthy of consideration at around 6.2 but a more conservative bet would be to take on the total minutes mark of 185.5 minutes at 1.8. Their meeting here last year went 243 minutes.
I fancy this to be a real grind and Tsonga has shown a bit more willingness to adapt to the clay at Roland Garros this year, but this will be a big test, as Stan won’t be as inclined as the likes of Fabio Fognini to do something daft in the rallies and it’s all set to go long again.
Best Bets: Back over 137.5 minutes in Djokovic v Seppi at 1.87; Back over 185.5 minutes in Tsonga v Wawrinka at 1.8; Back Wawrinka to beat Tsonga 3-2 at 6.2.