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Monday, 29 May 2017

French Open Tennis Day 2 Picks 2017 (May 29th)

The First Round at the French Open is split over three days and the majority of those matches have been scheduled for Monday.

Upsets have already begun at the second Grand Slam of the season with the likes of Angelique Kerber dropping out of the event at the first hurdle- while it was an upset on the day, it wasn't one that will have shocked anyone who has been following the build up to Roland Garros and underlines the feeling that this women's event looks the most open it has been for a Slam in a very long time.

The more positive story was produced early in the day as Petra Kvitova returned to the Tour following the hand injury suffered in an attempted burglary at her house in the Czech Republic during the off-season. Kvitova was a dominant winner in her First Round match, although she is expected to face much bigger challenges in the days ahead.

The Day 1 Picks made a positive start to the tournament as they returned a 4-2 success for the day. This is an important tournament for me after a pretty miserable first three months of the 2017 season, although signs of recovery have been there during the clay court season.

A strong tournament can take me into the grass court season which leads to Wimbledon with some positive momentum and that is what I am looking for here.

Garbine Muguruza - 4.5 games v Francesca Schiavone: A neck injury meant Garbine Muguruza had to withdraw in the Semi Final at the Rome Premier Event and raised doubts about her chances to defend her French Open title. There has been time for the Spaniard to make sure she is ready to go, but this is yet another top Seed who has so many doubts about their ability to go on and win the title at Roland Garros.

Muguruza has been in relatively poor form ever since winning the French Open twelve months ago and I am not sure anyone can back her with confidence. However the Spaniard did have a couple of solid wins in Rome which would have given her some belief in her own game prior to the neck issue and I do think she will be good enough to win this First Round match.

Once upon a time, Francesca Schiavone would have been one of the dark horses to go very deep in the tournament at the French Open. The Italian won the title in 2010 here and reached the Final the following year, but the veteran is not as strong these days and this match is going to be decided on the racquet of Muguruza.

I think she has had the time to be ready to compete over the next fortnight and I think Muguruza will push Schiavone back with some heavy groundstrokes. Her return should put the pressure on Schiavone throughout and a few big serves should put Muguruza in a position to win and cover this number.

This match up is likely more awkward on paper than it will prove to be on the day and I like Muguruza having enough for a 6-3, 6-4 win.

Daria Gavrilova - 4.5 games v Elise Mertens: These two players have already met once during the clay court portion of the 2017 season and it was Daria Gavrilova who got the better of Elise Mertens fairly comfortably.

The last two weeks have been very good for the Australian who reached the Quarter Final in Rome before finishing Runner Up in Strasbourg a few days ago. There hasn't been a lot of time for Gavrilova to rest and recover from that run, but the confidence of winning matches should mean she is in a good place to compete at Roland Garros.

The warm conditions will allow the aggressive play of Gavrilova to be productive and Mertens has not played her best tennis since finishing Runner Up in Istanbul a few weeks ago. The lack of tennis over the last month has to be a concern for Mertens fans and I think she may have a difficult time in keeping Gavrilova from leaping all over her serve in this one.

I do think it will be closer than when they met in Morocco, but Gavrilova is playing some very effective tennis of late. It has to be said that the Australian can be a little inconsistent between sets, but she should have too much in a 6-3, 6-4 kind of win to move through to the Second Round.

Sara Errani - 3.5 games v Misaki Doi: I am opposing one veteran Italian in the French Open First Round on Monday, but I will back another who has come through the Qualifiers. The decline of Sara Errani has been quite alarming for her fans, but she looked strong in winning three Qualifiers to get into the main draw and the clay courts remain her favourite surface.

Being on the clay has not really given Errani the confidence to produce the number of wins expected of her and First Round losses in both Premier Events in Madrid and Rome were really disappointing. In saying that, Errani has lost seven games in three matches so far at Roland Garros and is facing an opponent who may not be at full health.

Misaki Doi had to pull out of the Nuremberg tournament last week with an abdominal injury and she has not had a lot of time to get ready for the French Open. I fully expect the Japanese player to give this a go in a Grand Slam, but if she is not feeling at 100% it is going to be difficult to beat someone who is prepared to stay out on the court as long as Errani is to get the job done.

Unlike Errani, Doi can't fall back upon a strong clay court record over the years and I think she is going to have a difficult time in this one.

After a battle, Errani can come through with a 7-5, 6-4 kind of win and I will look for her to cover this number with the performances she has produced so far in the tournament.

Karolina Pliskova - 5.5 games v Saisai Zheng: There is no doubt that the clay courts are not where we would expect Karolina Pliskova to win her first Grand Slam title, but the French Open is so open that she has to be considered. Her serve is not as effective on the clay courts, but the conditions in Paris at this moment might make it a more dangerous shot along the lines of what it can be on the grass and hard courts.

The power is also not an issue for Pliskova, but I think the movement is something that can be exposed over the course of a tournament on this surface. That is more likely to be an issue beyond the First Round when Pliskova is expected to see off Saisai Zheng relatively comfortably.

Zheng can't be dismissed easily considering she holds a win over Elina Svitolina on the clay courts of Madrid, but she is going to have to defend really well and hope Pliskova is not at her best to be perfectly honest. Some of her results on the clay courts have really been an exception to the general rule about Zheng's ability at this level on this surface too.

The serve is not one that is going to offer a lot of free points and I will look for Pliskova to penetrate the court with her groundstrokes and keep her opponent on the back foot. There will be times when Zheng can frustrate Pliskova, but more often than not I would expect the latter to have too much power for Zheng in this one.

After a close first set, I am looking for Pliskova to dominate the second in a 6-4, 6-2 win.

Jack Sock - 1.5 sets v Jiri Vesely: One thing I would say about Jack Sock is he can produce a sloppy set or two when he is playing and that is a reason he is yet to really kick on with his career. There are elements of his game which are really impressive, but the lack of concentration can be a problem at times.

That was part of the reason Sock was not able to beat Jiri Vesely as well as he should have when they played on the clay courts a few weeks ago. The American had the majority of the play, but he can be a little loose with his return games which means Sock has to serve very well to make sure he is not making this match more difficult than it should be.

The American is comfortable on the clay courts with his heavy top spin forehand a potentially huge weapon, although the backhand will be attacked by the lefty Vesely. However Sock is the more consistent player from the back of the court and I think that is likely to show up in this one.

Vesely's own serve can be attacked and Sock should have a number of chances to break the serve and the key to this match may be a vital tie-breaker in the middle of the match. That could see Sock push the momentum forward in his direction if he can take that and I would imagine it leads to a win by three or four sets as he serves more effectively and earns more break points over the course of the match.

It is hot in Paris and these kinds of conditions have sapped Sock of his strength in previous years which is a concern. However I don't think it will be an issue if he can take his chances and make sure he is not dragged into a long match and I will back the American to cover the set handicap.

Victor Troicki - 6.5 games v Evgeny Donskoy: One of the players I try to avoid as much as possible is Victor Troicki who can be so inconsistent that it is frustrating to watch and back. There is enough about his game which should make him an effective player on all surfaces, but Troicki can mentally fall apart in sets which makes covering this game not an easy task.

However he is facing Evgeny Donskoy who has been struggling on the clay courts in 2017 and generally hasn't been able to produce the tennis needed to compete at this level. This season Donskoy is best known for being the only player to beat Roger Federer, but that was on a hard court and I am not sure he feels so good on the clay.

He has already taken a heavy loss at the hands of Troicki this season on this surface having won just three games in that match. I do think Troicki is able to work his way to a couple of breaks of serve during the course of at least one of the sets and that should give him a chance to cover this number of games even if he was to drop a set.

It wouldn't be a surprise if Troicki was to drop a set with the way he can lose concentration at times, but I am not sure Donskoy is going to ever be in a position where he is holding serve consistently without being put under immense pressure.

We should see Troicki come through this match with a 6-2, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 kind of win.

Novak Djokovic - 9.5 games v Marcel Granollers: This is a big spread for Novak Djokovic to cover when you think of some of the struggles he has had over the course of the last twelve months since winning the French Open title. The defending Champion has turned to Andre Agassi to help him through some of the mental difficulties he has had, and I can see Djokovic showing that he might be ready to defend his title.

That has a lot to do with the match up in front of Djokovic having dominated Marcel Granollers in their three previous matches. The Spaniard might be expected to favour the clay courts but Granollers' has regularly produced his best tennis on the faster surfaces and he has been dominated by Djokovic in those.

2017 has been a tough year for Granollers as a Singles player and I am not sure there is going to be a lot of belief that he can challenge Djokovic. Of course the former World Number 1 has been far from clinical in his matches over the last several months, but I am not sure Granollers has the tennis to really go after Djokovic here.

Granollers has a serve that can be attacked by someone who returns as well as Djokovic still can and I am not sure there will be a lot of resistance if the Serb gets in front in this one. There were positive signs from Djokovic in Rome and I do think he will be too good for Granollers in this First Round match.

Ultimately I think Djokovic is able to win a couple of sets with a couple of breaks of serve and can move through to the next Round with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 behind him.

Feliciano Lopez - 1.5 sets v Bjorn Fratangelo: This has been a difficult 2017 for Feliciano Lopez who may be keeping his best tennis for the Doubles Tour these days, while the clay courts are not exactly going to favour his serve-volley game. However the conditions in Paris may make his serve fly faster than usual and I still would think Lopez is going to be too good for Bjorn Fratangelo.

You have to respect the American for coming through three Qualifiers to take his place in the main draw, but this is someone who has generally been playing at the lower Challenger level. Fratangelo does have some solid wins on the clay courts over the last few weeks, but he was beaten by Lopez when these two met in Houston and dealing with the Spaniard's serve is a big task.

The Lopez return is not his strongest part of his game, but he can make enough balls back in play to see Fratangelo make the errors to give him chances to break. The slice will still be a shot that can cause problems as it means Fratangelo is trying to generate his own pace off the ground and that can see the American push a little too hard.

I am anticipating the majority of break point chances will be created by Lopez and, even though he has not been producing a lot of wins of late, I think that will lead to him winning this one in three or four sets.

Alexander Zverev - 6.5 games v Fernando Verdasco: After beating Novak Djokovic to take home the Rome Masters title, Alexander Zverev is not coming into the French Open under the radar. The young German looks very much like someone who is going to fulfil the immense potential he has, although dealing with that pressure in a Grand Slam event can be difficult.

He could have hoped for a much better First Round match than against the dangerous veteran Fernando Verdasco, even if the Spaniard has been in disappointing form over the last few weeks. Verdasco will be keen to show there is still something left in the tank and will be playing with the added motivation of trying to earn revenge for a loss to Zverev at the Madrid Masters.

We have all seen Verdasco produce some of his best tennis in the best of five setting and he is very comfortable with the added time to turn around matches in the Slams. However it will need a big turnaround in results and performances to get the better of Zverev who will be playing with a huge amount of confidence behind him.

Zverev has been serving very well, but more importantly has been finding a real rhythm on the return of serve and I think it will cause problems for Verdasco. The lefty serve is not at the level it once was and I can see Zverev creating plenty of break point chances throughout this contest.

As long as he doesn't lose focus, I think Zverev will work his way to a 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 win which will underline his potential to be a threat to win the French Open title over the next couple of weeks.

MY PICKS: Garbine Muguruza - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Daria Gavrilova - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Sara Errani - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Karolina Pliskova - 5.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)
Jack Sock - 1.5 Sets @ 1.73 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Victor Troicki - 6.5 Games @ 2.00 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Novak Djokovic - 9.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Feliciano Lopez - 1.5 Sets @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Alexander Zverev - 6.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

French Open Update: 4-2, + 3.38 Units (12 Units Staked, + 28.17% Yield)

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