It was a disappointing start to the tournament for us, as we had 3 wins (Davidovich Fokina, Carreño Busta, Delbonis), 3 losses (Humbert, Musetti, Lajovic), and unusually for us, one match where two of us went against each other! Luke had a successful pick of Garin, Charlie sadly chose Auger-Aliassime. The top 8 seeds now enter the tournament, as we prepare for Round 2. Whilst there are many matches that are either poor value odds or too unpredictable, there is still some value to be had.
Garin to beat Millman 3/10
The Chilean trailed Auger-Aliassime by a break after rain halted play on Monday, but played terrifically on Tuesday, hitting consistent depth to prevent the Canadian from taking control of the rallies. It turned out to be a dominant 7-6(3) 6-1 victory for the 16th seed. Millman took out Humbert in R1, with the Frenchman putting in a weak performance, the Aussie’s consistency punishing the Frenchman’s constant errors off both sides. Garin has an exceptional record on this surface, having won all of his 5 ATP titles on it, including on earlier this year in Santiago. Apart from winning a Challenger in 2018, and reaching the final in Budapest the same year, the Aussie hasn’t won back to back matches on the dirt since 2015, and that was at Challenger level. Garin possesses the better serve, is very solid from the back of the court on this surface and is more capable of being aggressive when the opportunity arises, making him firm favourite here.
Popyrin to beat Pouille 5/7
It has been an excellent start to the year for the young Aussie, having taken out Goffin at the Australian Open, lifting his first ATP title in Singapore, and beginning his clay season by qualifying here (defeating Arneodo and Hanfmann) and taking out veteran clay court specialist Andujar in R1 in a deciding set tiebreak, after losing the first set 6-0. Pouille is still coming back from a long injury lay off, and has struggled for wins this year. He managed to overcome Pella in R1, who is himself struggling for form in recent times. That was just his second win of the year at ATP level, his first being against Molcan (world ranking 275) in Marseille. Whilst the Frenchman undeniably has ability, being a former world number 10 and slam semi-finalist, he hasn’t shown it this year, and the in-form Popyrin should be able to blast him off the court with his huge serve and forehand, a combination which is lethal on any surface.
Bautista Agut to beat Paul 3/10
Whilst clay is Bautista Agut’s weakest surface, he didn’t show it against Fritz in R1, destroying the big hitting American 6-2 7-5. The Spaniard showed excellent solidity from the back of the court, as well as movement, and despite saving two set points at 4-5 in the second set, wasn’t troubled on serve. On the other hand, Paul only played 5 games against Martinez before the Spaniard was forced to retire. That was a much needed slice of fortune for the American, having lost his last 4 matches. Similar to Fritz, Paul has a powerful game, but whilst he is a better mover he has a relatively weak backhand that Bautista Agut will be able to target. Bautista Agut is a good retriever and is also very happy to trade blows from the back of the court, but has exceptional accuracy when he does step in, which is why he is just outside the top 10 in the world and why he is the clear favourite to advance here.
Value single of the day: Cecchinato to beat Goffin 11/8
After coming through the Swiss duo of Huesler and Laaksonen to qualify, the Italian secured a convincing 6-4 6-3 win against Koepfer in R1. Cecchinato has been in average form by his standards, but hasn’t had any awful losses this year on the clay, and has shown signs that he still has the exceptional quality that saw him reach the French Open semi-finals in 2018 and win 3 ATP titles. He also had a great run to the final of Sardinia at the back end of last year, losing to Djere 7-6(3) 7-5. Apart from winning a title in Montpellier, Goffin’s form this year has not been great, his most recent result before this week a 6-3 6-1 thrashing by Duckworth in Miami. He needed 3 sets to get past Cilic in R1, who has been out of sorts himself for a while now. Cecchinato’s heavy groundstrokes, as well as his superb drop shots, can trouble an out of form Goffin on this surface.