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Sunday, 24 May 2015

French Open Day 1 Picks 2015 (May 24th)

The second Grand Slam event of the season is the only one that begins on a Sunday as they have decided to split the First Round matches over three days. Of course that is good for the fans who are attending the event with the chance to watch some tennis on the opening weekend without necessarily taking a day off from work to attend.

I am not sure how the players feel about having to start on Sunday, but there are some big names out there including Roger Federer who will be in the second match on the main court on Sunday. That comes after Simona Halep, the Runner Up in the women's event last year, opens the tournament on the Philippe Chatrier Court.

Before I get on to my picks from Day 1 of the tournament, I have made some outright picks from the tournament which can be read here.

Lukas Rosol - 4.5 games v Elias Ymer: It has been a generation since a Swedish player would come to the French Open and expect to walk away with the title, but Elias Ymer could be the next Swede who looks to take over the mantle left by Bjorn Borg. There have been some quality players from that nation since Borg, but big things are expected of Ymer, although the 19 year old isn't ready for a deep run in a Grand Slam.

However, Ymer has shown the belief he has in his own game to come through the qualifiers and that makes him a dangerous First Round opponent for Lukas Rosol who can be incredibly inconsistent. The clay courts are supposedly Rosol's favourite surface despite having the tools to be a threat on faster surfaces, but the time he gets on the clay to wind up his shots seems to suit the Czech player.

That hasn't really shown up for Rosol during this current clay court season as he hasn't got the results he may have expected for himself and the most notable action was getting into a tense argument with Andy Murray in Munich. Rosol has the game to really trouble Ymer, but he has to stay mentally focused if he is going to win the match against a talented opponent.

The one problem Ymer has had at the main Tour level is protecting his serve though and that might be the reason he is unable to complete what would be an upset win. I expect he might take a set off of Rosol, but there is every chance the latter wins at least one set with a double break and that should help him cover this number.

Marcel Granollers - 4.5 games v Matthias Bachinger: Any time a Qualifier is your opponent at a Grand Slam, the player in the main draw has to be careful knowing their opponent has played themselves into some kind of form. That will be what Matthias Bachinger will be hoping having won three matches in Paris to make the main draw and he has not dropped a set in those wins, although it is a surprise run of form considering how Bachinger had been struggling ahead of Roland Garros.

After qualifying, Bachinger has to be happy with the First Round match against Marcel Granollers even if he has lost all three previous matches against the Spaniard. That is because Granollers has reserved his best form for the Doubles Tour this season and has been inconsistent when playing Singles matches, even if he has recorded more wins during the clay court season.

Granollers is actually one of the Spaniards that likes playing on the faster surfaces, but has played better on the clay courts than what many might have expected. That is especially the case when looking at how Granollers played on the faster surfaces to start the season so his confidence could be restored in time for this Grand Slam.

One concern I would have for Granollers when it comes to a spread like this is his tendency to give away sets 62 or worse which would make this number tough to cover. However, I think Granollers might be able to wear down Bachinger as long as he serves well and that should give him every chance to cover this number even in a four set win.

Pablo Andujar - 3.5 games v Albert Ramos-Vinolas: I can guess that both of these Spanish players look forward to the French Open more than any other Grand Slam and would feel they can have a good run with a decent draw. Neither Pablo Andujar nor Albert Ramos-Vinolas would have wanted to play one another in the First Round, although the former is probably the happier of the two having won 9/11 previous matches between them.

Both players have had some good runs on the clay courts during the last six weeks as both favour the surface more than any other.

The head to head will play a part in this match simply because of the number of previous matches and a clear advantage Andujar has in those matches. Andujar will also know exactly what to expect from the Ramos-Vinolas lefty serve and has found a way to dominate the second serve points which can make all the difference on the slower courts.

I don't think this will be a straight-forward match at all as Ramos-Vinolas has produced some good stuff recently, but I can see Andujar getting through in four sets while covering a relatively small number.

Guillermo Garcia-Lopez - 5.5 games v Steve Johnson: This actually looks a pretty big number on first glance, especially when you consider the relatively weak serve that Guillermo Garcia-Lopez operates with. The first serve isn't all that bad, but the second serve is very attackable and is simply getting the point started so this match could come down to how much Steve Johnson has his eye in on the return.

Garcia-Lopez has performed well over the last six weeks though and the clay courts are clearly Johnson's worst surface as is it for many of the Americans currently on Tour. His first strike tennis doesn't always come off on the clay courts and going for break is tough on a surface where opponents will make you play at least one or two more balls than you'd have to on a hard court.

I do respect some of the battling displays Johnson has produced over the last six months despite not being fully comfortable on clay. He has given Rafael Nadal and Fabio Fognini plenty to think about, but could play those matches with more freedom as he had no expectation of winning.

That won't be the case against someone like Garcia-Lopez and Johnson may put himself under undue pressure to succeed. Johnson would be wrong to under-estimate Garcia-Lopez who won the title in Bucharest and had a couple of impressive wins in Rome a couple of weeks ago and that form should see him battle to a 76, 63, 64 win.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova + 3.5 games v Lucie Safarova: There are a number of matches in the women's draw also taking place on Sunday but the one that appeals the most is a fascinating one between Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Lucie Safarova with the latter being the Seeded player expected to progress.

That might be the expectation, but I think Pavlyuchenkova is going to make this  a real battle and this could easily be a match that goes the distance and perhaps needs a third set to separate them. With no final set tie-breaker, this spread is perhaps a more dangerous one than I would like, but I actually think Pavlyuchenkova can win the match outright and that is why I like the games.

The Russian seems to like the match up with Safarova as shown by their previous matches on surfaces that I would think suit the latter more than Pavlyuchenkova. Her movement is something of an issue which can be shown up in the longer rallies that develop on the clay courts, but I also think Pavlyuchenkova can get time to wind up her heavy groundstrokes.

If she can serve well, I think Safarova will be in a spot of bother in this match and this could be incredibly tight which makes the games being given to Pavlyuchenkova an attractive proposition.

MY PICKS: Lukas Rosol - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Marcel Granollers - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Pablo Andujar - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez - 5.5 Games @ 1.85 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova + 3.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)

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