French Open Women's Day One Tips: Tournament favourite Halep in action on opening day

In advance of day one of the women's singles event at the French Open, Dan Weston is back to run the rule over the 20 matches on the opening day...

Tournament favourite Halep starts her tournament today

We see the start of the French Open today, and in a lengthy round one schedule, there are just shy of a third of the total first round matches in the draw on today's card.

There are a number of big names immediately in action, with tournament favourite Simona Halep getting her campaign underway as an overwhelming 1.06 favourite over Sara Sorribes Tormo. The Spaniard, Sorribes Tormo, has a very return-orientated dynamic, and her projected hold figure based on my model is just 37.6% - very low indeed. Halep is now into [3.85] for the tournament after a little market support in the last day or two, which doesn't make sense to me given the rather tricky opening quarter in which she finds herself.

Azarenka still with much to prove on clay

Victoria Azarenka is also in action and is slightly bigger at 1.13 for her clash with Danka Kovinic. I'm a little surprised to see this line, even considering Azarenka's superb hard court results in America, when she won the Western & Southern Open and then subsequently reached the US Open final. My view is that Azarenka wasn't as strong on clay as she was on hard courts when she was at her peak, and despite double-bagelling Sofia Kenin in Rome several weeks ago, I still think she has a little to prove on clay before this tournament. It will be interesting to see how she fares against a competent clay-courter.

Konta v Gauff arguably match of the day

Arguably the match of the day, however, is Jo Konta versus Cori Gauff. Konta looks a little value at 1.78 but it was difficult to get an accurate reflection of Gauff's clay level to input into my model. She's played just two main tour clay matches - at Rome several weeks ago - and performed pretty well. However, we have to go back to May 2019 in French Open qualifiers to see her previous clay matches, when Gauff was ranked outside the top 300. She's obviously a much-improved player since then, but we don't have the clay data to back up that assertion as yet - one to probably leave-alone from a data perspective.

Schmiedlova favourite over Venus

This is also, to a lesser extent, the problem we have for evaluating Venus Williams, who is 1.70 underdog against Anna Schmiedlova. My model likes Schmiedlova as favourite here, but it's tough to have much faith in that point of view either. Venus has played just five clay matches since 2018.

We also have this problem with another spot that my model liked - Kaia Kanepi at 2.34 versus Marie Bouzkova. Kanepi has decent longer-term clay data but has played just three tournaments on the surface since 2018, so it's difficult to have any confidence in her numbers at all.

More questions than answers on day one

As you can see, there is a rather common theme of more questions than answers for many of the value spots today - we are suffering from a lack of usable clay data for today's potential value. While it's a cautious approach, this tournament is a marathon, not a sprint, and especially given the unique circumstances surrounding this year's tournaments, I think that it's prudent to take a watching brief for today's women's card - there just aren't any value spots that I like with any degree of confidence today.

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