French Open Men's Day Eight Tips: Sonego can keep it close versus Schwartzman

There is a recurring theme of heavy favourites in the men's French Open today. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, is back and discusses whether any of them can be beaten...

Berrettini shocked by Altmaier

Yesterday's third round action saw a big shock with Matteo Berrettini ousted by Daniel Altmaier in straight-sets. Our pick, Cristian Garin, disappointed in his match with Karen Khachanov, and interestingly, there were no five-setters yesterday and two retirements, with perhaps the physical nature of a compressed tour post-lockdown having some effect.

Following the conclusion of round three yesterday, action gets underway at 1130 UK time today as the fourth round gets started with the eight players remaining from the bottom half of the draw. Unfortunately for the neutral, three of the four matches today feature very heavy favourites.

Thiem and Nadal overwhelming favourites to progress

Both Dominic Thiem and Rafa Nadal are priced as virtual byes for their matches versus Hugo Gaston and Sebastian Korda, respectively. Both opponents are 20-years-old, have decent future potential but are both Challenger Tour players ranked outside the top 200 at the current time. It would be a huge shock - probably even more of a shock than Rosol v Nadal at Wimbledon in 2012 - if either Gaston or Korda managed to progress today.

Sonego can keep it competitive against Schwartzman

The other strong favourite today is Diego Schwartzman, who faces our hero from Friday, Lorenzo Sonego. On Friday, Sonego got it done for us in straight sets against Taylor Fritz, and I can't help thinking that he has a chance against Schwartzman despite being priced at 6.80.

We can forgive Sonego his losses in warm-up events, facing very high potential young players as an underdog against Felix Auger-Aliassime and Casper Ruud, and underdog victories here over Fritz and Alexander Bulbik show he shouldn't be under-rated on clay.

I'm not debating that Schwartzman should be favourite - I agree he should certainly be a solid favourite for sure - but Sonego does look value at the current market lines. We should be able to get him for around the 1.72 mark in the run-up to the match getting a 7.5 game head start, which looks a decent option given that Sonego holds serve 83% on clay in main tour matches - pretty solid numbers that should see him be tougher to break than Schwartzman's average opponent despite the Argentine's stellar return figures.

Sinner with the potential to surprise Zverev

The only really competitive-looking match on the schedule is Jannik Sinner versus Alexander Zverev, with higher-ranked Zverev the 2.90 favourite after a little market support.

I'm not sure about this price either. Sinner's numbers since the tour resumed have been superb (110% combined service/return points won percentage from eight clay matches) and while the sample size isn't great, I'm happier to give more credence to this sample from a 19-year-old with huge potential and obvious further upside, as opposed to a journeyman-type player who may have just been benefiting from unsustainable results.

I think Zverev should be the favourite but I have the prices closer to 1.75 for the German. Some people may perceive a Sinner win to be a big shock - and it will likely be reported in the media as such if it happens - but I am not convinced it would be that much of a surprise.

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