This perplexing French Open completes its second round of men’s matches on Thursday, with 16 matches scheduled for today in Paris.
It’s certainly produced some eye-opening results so far and the latest was Gilles Simon winning back-to-back matches in straight sets.
The Frenchman had never done that before at the French Open and not anywhere since the US Open of 2009, so along with Feli Lopez winning his first round in three sets we’ve been on the wrong end of some very unlikely occurrences already this week.
Facundo Bagnis was unable to produce his best in the opening set against Ernests Gulbis, but I still think it was worth taking a chance on the Argentine at a price that was too big in that set.
The weather looks set to be mainly free of rain on Thursday, but it will still be on the slow side, with several players complaining that the balls weren’t getting through the court and Maria Sharapova likened it to “playing badminton.”
Starting at 10:00 UK time and David Ferrer should be far too solid for Simone Bolelli, whose attempts to hit through the court will surely lead to errors and the minus 8.5 on the Spaniard looks good there.
Fellow Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez should have much too much on clay for Adrian Mannarino, who has a woeful record on the red dirt and the handicaps on GGL look decent there too.
Philipp Kohlschreiber vs Denis Istomin
Despite my struggles with predicting Istomin matches this one surely has overs written all over it.
For reasons best known to himself and probably all in his head, Kohlschreiber really has issues with facing Istomin and finally managed to beat the Uzbek in Dusseldorf last week in similar conditions on his way to the title.
He may well do so again today, but it’s hard to see it being easy after all four of their tour level matches so far have been tight affairs and Istomin won three of them.
Clay has never been Istomin’s best surface, but he earned some good results on it this season and surely this one will go to at least four sets today.
The last time that Kohlschreiber won a grand slam match against a top-50 opponent in straight sets was Horacio Zeballos (50) on a hard court in Australia in 2010 and the last time he did it on clay? Novak Djokovic in 2009.
That just about sums Kohlschreiber up and the over 37.5 total games at 1.75 looks very good here.
Richard Gasquet vs Carlos Berlocq
I said a few days ago that Gasquet was nowhere near match fitness and sharpness for his match with Bernard Tomic, but the controversial Aussie couldn’t be bothered to test that theory. Charly surely will today.
The Gasman’s back is such that he can’t go for his serves to the usual extent and he’s admitted that he’s being very cautious with himself in this, his first event back after a few months away.
Conditions might help him today against Berlocq, whose weight of shot may count against him in the damp, but he will surely be far fitter and more inclined to push himself to the limit here.
The pair will be meeting for the first time on tour and it could be a tight tussle, but the heavy conditions will test Gasquet’s back and fitness to the full and he’ll do well to win this one in the circumstances of his physical condition.
The +1.5 sets on Berlocq at 1.80 looks the bet for me in this one.
Back over 37.5 total games in Kohlschreiber/Istomin at 1.75
Back Berlocq +1.5 sets to beat Gasquet at 1.80