French Open Men's Day Four Tips: Londero has handicap value against over-rated Cecchinato

After back-to-back French Open winners, our tennis columnist Dan Weston is aiming to make it a hat-trick of successful Roland Garros tips...

Mager covers handicap for us on day three

There was a superb day's play to end round one yesterday, with our game handicap pick, Gianluca Mager, getting it covered without much difficulty against Dusan Lajovic. Heavy favourites Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas both needed to fight back from two sets down against Sam Querrey and Jaume Munar, respectively, and there are obvious implications in the impact of accumulated fatigue on the duo. Conversely, Novak Djokovic lost just five games en route to thrashing Mikael Ymer - already he has a big edge in court time over both Rublev and Tsitsipas.

The bottom half of the men's draw take to the courts today with 16 second round matches scheduled, and of course, there are the overwhelming favourites with big names expected to easily dismiss the threats of lower-ranked players. All of Rafa Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Diego Schwartzman are priced around or below 1.05 to get what the market - and I - anticipate to be wins obtained with minimal fuss.

Londero can keep it close against Cecchinato

It's in the matches which look more competitive where I want to focus today, and I must admit, I'm torn between a few spots without dramatically liking any of them. Today looks a day to be cautious, and while it would be great to hit a hat-trick of three winners in three days, there isn't much I feel confident about on day four on the men's side.

Marco Cecchinato surprised the tennis world by making the semi-finals here in 2018 when ranked outside the top 70, and this enabled the Italian to break into the top 20 soon after that. However, he's struggled since then, and now sees his ranking outside the top 100.

I made the point at the time that he looked over-ranked - his ranking was better than his underlying data - and mean-reversion was likely. Indeed it happened. However, after qualifying to be here and a round one win over Alex De Minaur (who looks far worse on clay than he does on hard courts) the market appears to have decided that Cecchinato is back at top 20 level.

He's 1.38 for his clash with the Argentine, Juan Ignacio Londero, who should enjoy these slow clay conditions as much as Cecchinato. The only problem is that he's probably going to be tired after a dramatic 14-12 final set victory over countryman Federico Delbonis in the opening round in a match which took almost five hours. However, that was on Sunday, and with the opening round of the French Open spread over three days, Londero is in the rare position of benefiting from two rest days.

However, if Londero is in any kind of decent condition, the 3.40 about him would be some value in my view. The market appears to have forgotten that Cecchinato is capable of the level which saw him lose against Nicolas Mahut in round one here last year, and in Challenger events against Alejandro Tabilo and Yannick Hanfmann since the tour resumed. I'm not completely enthused by the spot, but Londero +6.5 games is my pick today, - we should be able to get around the 1.78 mark on the Exchange in the run-up to the match, in line with general market pricing.

Bublik looks over-valued for Sonego clash

Another player who looks over-rated by the market is Alexander Bublik, who is 1.70 for his meeting with Lorenzo Sonego. Bublik - until last week in Hamburg where he made the quarter-finals as a lucky-loser - hasn't impressed post-lockdown, and had opening round defeats in both Kitzbuhel and Rome as a heavy underdog against Hanfmann and Marin Cilic.

Suddenly Bublik is favourite against Sonego, who is a capable clay-courter but is another one who is coming off a five-set win in the first round. I can remember the days where the market didn't price this in particularly accurately, and now it seems to be going the other way and making huge adjustments against players who had a five-set win in the previous round, even if it was on Sunday, as Londero's was.

Nishikori surprisingly underdog against Travaglia

Another player who had a five-set win on Sunday was Kei Nishikori, who got the better of Dan Evans despite losing two sets 6-1. Struggling against Evans, whose clay numbers are pretty mediocre, isn't at all a positive for Nishikori's current level, and nor is a bagel last week by Cristian Garin in a 0-6 3-6 defeat in Hamburg.

Having said that, the current 2.36 about the Japanese man, who reached the quarter-finals here in three of the last five events, against a borderline Challenger player in Stefano Travaglia, is difficult to justify.

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