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Friday, 8 June 2018

French Open Tennis Day 13 Picks 2018 (June 8th)

The final two men's Quarter Final matches were completed on Thursday as Rafael Nadal recovered from dropping the first set and Juan Martin Del Potro came out of a bit of a wobble in the middle of his own match to make their way into the Semi Final.

That Semi Final will take place on Friday and will be an intriguing one, although you would guess Del Potro would be a much bigger threat to Nadal on the grass and hard court surfaces to come than here in Paris. His power will always give him a chance but Nadal is rightly the strong favourite to progress to yet another Final at the French Open.

Marin Cilic's defeat to Del Potro would have stung the Croatian and his head to head with Del Potro is now heavily skewed in the Argentinian's favour. Cilic had his chances to win the match and it also meant the remaining outright pick I had this week has just fallen short in what has not been the best of tournaments from a personal point of view.

Both men's Semi Finals are played on Friday as we get down to the final few days of the second Grand Slam of the Tennis 2018 season.

Dominic Thiem win 3-1 v Marco Cecchinato: This has been a remarkable two weeks for Marco Cecchinato who had not won a match at Grand Slam level in the Singles draw before doing so at the French Open in this tournament. However the positive stories have been accompanied by negative press, although Cecchinato is handling himself well enough at the moment.

A few years ago Cecchinato was banned for match-fixing and also escaped a prolonged ban on a technicality, although suggestions are that he is not out of the woods just yet. Like Tennys Sandgren at the Australian Open, a surprising run in the Grand Slam has not been all positive news for Cecchinato although he is simply refusing to answer any questions in relation to the incident at the tournament.

It clearly hasn't bothered Cecchinato on the court having beaten the likes of Pablo Carreno Busta, David Goffin and Novak Djokovic to make his way through to the Semi Final. While the Italian was considered a talented Junior, his performances here have been far above what he has produced on the clay courts coming into Paris and makes the run that much more of a surprise.

The numbers have been considerably better than the 2018 clay court numbers, but Cecchinato has also managed to hold himself together at key moments in matches. In the Quarter Final against Novak Djokovic he had lost ten out of eleven games before saving multiple break points which meant avoiding going into a 1-5 hole in the fourth set which was eventually turned around.

Cecchinato actually only won 96% of the combined serve/return points in his Quarter Final and there were definitely some signs of fatigue which come at the end of a long two weeks in the Grand Slams where emotional energy is invested as much as physical energy.

The Italian will be hoping he can recover some energy when he takes on Dominic Thiem who is in the top three clay courters in men's tennis at this moment in time. The Austrian holds a win over Rafael Nadal this season on this surface and he has been in fine form all tournament while not being extended too much which should mean being pretty fresh going into the Semi Final.

Thiem has been playing pretty consistently compared with his numbers for the clay court season with the strong serving and decent enough returning helping him through the draw. The win over Alexander Zverev was very comfortable, but it has to be noted that Zverev looked very much out of gas in that match and may have been carrying an injury.

Prior to that Thiem had needed four sets to win three consecutive matches and I think he may have to do the same here. His opponent has had a couple of days to rest so I expect Cecchinato will have enough energy for a couple of sets to really cause some problems for Thiem, although eventually I do think Thiem will have too much and wear him down.

Some may look at the total games and over/under sets markets instead if they feel Cecchinato's dream run is set to continue, but I think the most likely result in that occurrence is Thiem winning in four and that is worth a small interest.

Rafael Nadal - 6.5 games v Juan Martin Del Potro: The rain delay on Wednesday came at just the right time for Rafael Nadal who has rarely looked as baffled as he was in the early stages of his Quarter Final with Diego Sebastian Schwartzman. From the moment the delay came with Nadal down a set and a break the entire complexion of the match changed as the Spaniard was able to sit down and work out the best way to go in the match.

Nadal dominated from then on and he remains a huge favourite to win the French Open. The clay courts have been his favoured surface throughout his career and Nadal is very much down as the best player to ever play on the clay courts which means he heads to the court with a tremendous aura around him.

That won't be something that bothers Juan Martin Del Potro who has beaten the biggest names at the Grand Slams throughout his career. In 2009 he beat Nadal and Roger Federer in back to back matches to win the US Open and Del Potro has returned to something close to his best over the last twelve months with a couple of strong Grand Slam runs in that time too.

However Del Potro will likely be the first to admit that the clay courts are perhaps his least effective surface and certainly not the one he would feel suit him best to beat Nadal. There were also some signs of fatigue during Del Potro's win over Marin Cilic in the Quarter Final and the limited time of recovery has to go against the big man with this match to come just twenty-four hours later.

Perhaps the poor weather forecast can save Del Potro and give him more recovery time, but this would be a tough match up for him on this surface regardless. Last year Del Potro fell away against Andy Murray in the Third Round after two tough sets at Roland Garros, but this match up is considerably tougher for him and I think Nadal has come through any real scares he is going to face before the Final now.

Del Potro has some solid numbers in his five wins in Paris and he wasn't playing too badly on the clay prior to an injury suffered in Rome, although that is with a limited sample of matches. While he has been serving well so far over the last two weeks, Del Potro is going to be put under more pressure by Nadal's strong returning game and this feels like a match that will end up running away from Del Potro the longer it goes on.

Last year at the US Open Del Potro won the first set against Nadal before being crushed in four sets. I anticipate he could make the first set quite competitive here, but Nadal should start wearing him down and that can help him cover what is a big number for a Semi Final of a Grand Slam tournament.

MY PICKS: Dominic Thiem Win 3-1 @ 3.75 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Rafael Nadal - 6.5 Games @ 1.83 Boyle Sports (2 Units)

French Open Update: 45-52, - 18.30 Units (187 Units Staked, - 9.79% Yield)

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