It has been a tricky opening to the 2013 French Open, but weather permitting there are plenty of opportunities to get back on track on Tuesday.
My first wager in the ladies singles on Monday was extremely unfortunate, as Mona Barthel wasted four set points in the opener against Angelique Kerber, before folding in set two to fall a single game short of the handicap. The same fate befell Flavia Pennetta, who faded badly after taking the opener against Kirsten Flipkens.
I predicted yesterday that Laura Robson's match against Caroline Wozniaki hinged upon which Laura turned up, and a late betting plunge on Wozniacki proved correct, as she started as favourite. But Robson had a shocker in a two-set defeat.
Wednesday’s first round schedule sees Victoria Azarenka make her debut in this year’s event and she has a tricky opener against Elena Vesnina. The number three seed has never dropped a set to the Russian, but this is their first meeting on clay and it may not be quite so straightforward on the dirt.
Also in action today are Petra Kvitova, Sam Stosur, Marion Bartoli, and Heather Watson, who is still not quite fully fit after her bout of glandular fever. Watson claims to be around 95% fit and that could be enough against Stefanie Voegele, who lost last time out against another Brit who was returning after a lay-off - Elena Baltacha.
It’s a big ask to come back and beat a top-50 or so ranked player after a bout of glandular fever, but Voegele is no Justine Henin and 1.38 seems awfully short to me about the Swiss.
I like the idea of taking on three doubles and a treble today in the women’s draw and Yaraslava Shvedova, Mariana Duque-Marino and Marion Bartoli fit the bill - and would pay around 2.25 for the treble.
This is Shvedova’s time of year and she’s not going to be overly concerned by the big serve of Coco Vandeweghe on this surface. Slava took down Coco with ease here last year in the qualifiers and clay is far from the American’s best surface. The world number 96 has never beaten a top-100 ranked player in the main draw of a clay event and that is unlikely to change today.
Duque-Marino should also take advantage of a poor clay courter when she faces Krystina Pliskova, who was easily beaten last time out on the dirt in Brussels qualifying by Shahar Peer, who also dislikes the red stuff.
Pliskova has only once in her career won a match on clay in the main draw of a tour level event and that was in Fes back in 2011. Duque-Marino has done well in qualifying in Paris and will be disappointed if she doesn’t progress today against this opposition.
In the opening match of the day, Bartoli’s recent poor form has made her a tempting price at around 1.48 against the limited Olga Govortsova, who has a high likelihood of choking if she gets anywhere near winning this.
Bartoli tends to tank her matches ahead of majors, which explains some of her losses and she’ll be desperate to do well here in front of her home fans. This is a rematch of their 2011 meeting here, which Bartoli also won and she should do so again.
For a bigger priced wager, it’s worth siding with Aravane Rezai in the afternoon match against Petra Kvitova in what could be a very entertaining match full of winners, wild misses, shanks and chokes - and the crowd could well get involved in this one.
Rezai +6.5 games is an option, but I prefer chancing the 3.33 about Rezai winning this with a 1.5 set start at 3.33 as a good long shot today.
Back Bartoli, Duque-Marino and Shvedova in three doubles and a treble
Back Rezai +1.5 sets to beat Kvitova at 3.33