@JRTWEETSTENNIS PREVIEWS THE MADRID TENNIS OPEN
The wait for the second major tournament of the tennis year is finally over! The French Open is here. Months after the Australian Open, the longest in-season wait between majors for fans and bettors alike has finally ended.
The storylines may not be as plentiful as years past, but there are a few that stick out. Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz – the three tournament favourites – are all in the same half of the draw (we’ll get to how this should impact DFS team selections, especially in tournament long competitions). Iga Swiatek on a Williams sisters circa early 2000s style run. Now back on her favourite surface, can she win her second Roland Garros title? How does she factor into DFS decisions?
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Full Tournament Outlook
Let’s begin with the full tournament decisions. Among the highest-priced men, Stefanos Tsitsipas is the obvious choice for this format. First and foremost, as he is in the betting markets, he’s cheaper than the big three names of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz. Those three are all in the same half, however, and Djokovic and Nadal are in the same quarter. Using any of them in your lineups is taking a very expensive stand. Considering Tsitsipas’ track record of success here, dominance on clay, and much simpler path to the final, if you’re going to include one of the more expensive men in your lineups, save yourself a million or two in salary and up your chances of landing a finalist.
In terms of the women’s draw? It’s just the opposite. Contrarians won’t like this, but Iga Swiatek is someone to have in most of your lineups in a tournament-long format. She’s having a season like the tennis world hasn’t seen in two decades. She has been racking up straight sets wins. Most importantly, though, in this scoring format, she is consistently putting up lopsided set scores. 11 of the 19 sets she’s played on clay this season have resulted in scorelines of 6-2 or better. Nearly 60% of the time she’s posting huge point totals. Throw in her likelihood to go deep and her previous success at this venue, and you’ve got all the makings for a player you’re going to need to have a chance at taking down the tournament-long contests. That isn’t to say you should be limiting exposure by putting together some lineups without her, but passing on her in every lineup would be a critical mistake.
For the rest of the field, the sections they’re in will make all the difference. Targeting seeds that are off their favourite surface and/or in poor form with players that have been playing well this clay season is the best strategy to save some money and still find players that could make their way into the second week.
In the $16 million range, I’ve gone with Miomir Kecmanovic. The Serbian young gun has shown a dramatic improvement in his play this year. His serve is more potent, his consistency has vastly improved and his point construction is noticeably better. In a fourth quarter, where the top seeds are Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, he has all the chance to be a surprise quarter, or even semifinalist.
For the women, Ekaterina Alexandrova appears to be a decent value selection at just over $13 million. First, she’s been surprisingly strong this clay court season. Her three European clay court losses? To players all ranked in the top-six in the world. Another reason to like the Russian in this spot? She’s in Karolina Pliskova’s section. Pliskova’s form hasn’t been great this year, and while she looked better in Strasbourg, she had to have her upper thigh heavily taped against Maryna Zanevska and – despite assuring everyone in her post-match interview she was fine – was swept off the court in her next match. This is a very winnable section for Alexandrova, and her price doesn’t reflect that.
Suffice it to say, those options will all be solid in round-by-round contests, as well. They’ll all be rather expensive though, especially in the early going. In this section, the aim is to find some players who are either short favourites, evens, or slight underdogs for the first few rounds.
The first is Fabio Fogini. As talented as anyone in the world on clay when his mind is right, Fognini comes with the same warning issued a few weeks back with Basilashvili. He’s certainly a riskier player to include in your lineups, but he’s only a slight favourite in his opening match against Alexei Popyrin, shouldn’t be too heavy of a favourite in his second round encounter with Botic van de Zandschulp (should he get past Pavel Kotov), and in the third round would be a very cheap addition against Nadal. He’s had success against Nadal in the past, and with Nadal’s chronic foot problems, if Fognini extends this match – as Denis Shapovalov did in Rome – he could seize control and upset the king of clay.
On the women’s side, someone to eye in the first few rounds is Tamara Zidansek. Her clay court season hasn’t lived up to expectations to this point, but it is her favourite surface and she did show promise a year ago, advancing all the way to the semifinals.
She’s an underdog in her first round to Claire Liu, based on the form of the two entering the match, but Liu is coming off back-to-back long weeks in Paris and then Morocco, where she looked fatigued in a 6-2, 6-1 loss to Martina Trevisan. With a winnable second round match against Marta Kostyuk or Mayar Sherif should she advance, Zidansek could provide some utility in your FanTeam lineups for a few rounds at Roland Garros.
Jon is a tennis handicapper and bettor, running a tennis betting podcast since the beginning of the 2021 tennis season. You can find his work at Tennis Betting Tidbits in any podcast app, or on Twitter at @TidbitsTennis.
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