ROLAN GARROS has arrived in all its beauty and it means a big fortnight ahead for punters.
Here’s our best bets for tonight’s action:
Gilles Simon v Nikoloz Basilashvili
Gilles Simon will look to kick off his French Open campaign against hard-hitting Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili.
While it’s easy (and normal) to assume Simon is the better player, it could be argued that that may not be the case any more.
The Frenchman’s decline over the past 12 months has been noticeable and his form heading into Roland Garros has left a lot to be desired.
Simon holds a 4-5 record this year on the dirt and while the losses were mostly to higher ranked opponents his inability to comfortably deal with lesser opposition is what is most concerning.
Basilashvili is coming off his best ATP event of the year, with the Georgian reaching the semi-finals in Lyon last week where he was ousted by hometown hero Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in three sets.
The two are in very different stages of their careers and while the Frenchman should still prevail we like Basilasvili to at least push this further than just three sets.
Our projections have this one going to five sets making the Overs a strong play.
Prediction: Over 38.0 games @ $1.95
Milos Raonic v Steve Darcis
The big-serving Canadian will once again be hoping for a deep run at a grand slam as he looks to do some damage here at Roland Garros.
Darcis is enjoying his best year of tennis to date and has jumped to a career-high 38 in the world.
That being said his 7-3 record on clay this year is skewed by the fact his last outing was winning a Challenger event in Bordeaux earlier this month.
His toughest opponent was world no. 71 Rogerio Dutra Silva – a fair way off what he’ll face in the opening round of the French Open.
Raonic meanwhile enjoyed an active and somewhat successful build up to the years’ second grand slam – finishing with an 8-4 record on his supposedly least preferred surface.
Those losses all came against top 20 opponents, some of whom are far better suited to the dirt than the Canadian.
We believe Raonic is far superior to his Belgian opponent here and he should make light work of Darcis, who hasn’t seen the court since winning the Bordeaux Challenger over a fortnight ago.
Our data has Raonic taking this one in straight sets, making the games handicap a solid pick for the no. 5 seed.
Prediction: Raonic -7.0 @ $1.87
Benoit Paire v Rafael Nadal
The tournament favourite will kick off his pursuit of another French Open crown against home crowd favourite Benoit Paire.
Nadal has been irresistible in the lead up to his favourite grand slam and we don’t expect much resistance from Paire in this opening round match.
The pair have met twice before, both times on clay and both times in favour of Nadal in straight sets.
Paire has gone 4-6 in hist last 10 matches on clay and while he boasts wins over Stan Wawrinka and Pablo Carreno-Busta in that time, he also holds losses to Tommy Haas and more recently Jordan Thompson.
Paire is no match for Nadal on any surface let alone the Spaniards specialty and this one will certainly go no longer than three sets.
Nadal’s power and persistence will force the Frenchman into submission here and our projections have the Spaniard comfortably covering the handicap.
What’s interesting is that the Overs is favourite, despite the -9.0 handicap being heavily favoured. This doesn’t quite add up for us and so we’ll take the extra value on the Unders total.
Prediction: Under 28.0 games @ $1.92
Mens singles – Day 2 multi:
Basilashvili +2.5 sets
Jack Sock hd2hd
Milos Raonic 3-0
Rafa Nadal 3-0