French Open Women's Day Four Tips: Cirstea to continue Stephens' poor form
The women's singles event at the French Open moves to the second round stage today with action from the bottom half of the draw. Dan Weston returns to give his thoughts...
Heavy favourites prevail as expected
A day of strong favourites yesterday in the women's singles event played out largely as expected, with wins for all the big names, albeit in contrasting circumstances. Simona Halep was surprisingly taken to three sets by the lucky loser, Nastasja Schunk, while this was also the case for Aryna Sabalenka against Chloe Paquet. Conversely, Paula Badosa breezed through to round two for the loss of just two games, and Danielle Collins also won easily, dropping just four games against Victoria Tomova.
Giant-killers - Parry and Linette back in action
Giant-killers Diane Parry and Magda Linette are both in action on day four in the second round, with Parry a 2.96 underdog against the Colombian, Maria Serrano. I'm a little surprised by this - Parry has good numbers on clay both at ITF level and when she's played at a higher level, particularly on return. Having said this, she came into the event in questionable form but I'm not at all sure about the market line here.
As for Linette, she's a slight 1.90 favourite against Martina Trevisan. Is that a reaction to her win over Ons Jabeur? I think so. Trevisan has far better numbers on clay on return, and comes into the event in great form having won in Rabat recently. It's not a huge surprise to see the Italian receive market support in the early betting.
British interest - Raducanu tough to predict
We were unfortunate with a heavy underdog pick against Emma Raducanu in round one, with the Brit looking shaky but coming through in three sets. Wednesday sees her face Aliaksandra Sasnovich, and it's so difficult to work out an expected level for Raducanu. She seems like one of the players on tour with a huge standard deviation for her level, and I'm not that sure she's any kind of value even at 2.04.
Potential value - Cirstea and (if fit) Siniakova
Katerina Siniakova is a decent clay courter and I'm surprised to see her priced up against Raducanu's US Open final opponent, Leylah Fernandez. The American's numbers still aren't great on the surface (101% combined service/return points won in the last 12 months) and Siniakova can usurp that. She has had an abdominal injury of late which forced several retirements, but beat Petra Martic in a good win in round one - if Siniakova is fit, she looks under-rated at 2.52.
Moving on, Sorana Cirstea is 1.75 for her match against Sloane Stephens, which I'm surprised about. The Romanian has much better 12-month clay court numbers, with an edge on both serve and return, while Stephens came into the event on a five-match losing streak.
The market, in my view, still rates Stephens somewhat on past glories and reputation, and Cirstea looks some value here.
Best matches for the neutral - Sakkari/Muchova and Bencic/Andreescu
Finally, there's a couple of cracking matches in prospect with Karolina Muchova facing Maria Sakkari and Belinda Bencic meeting Bianca Andreescu.
In the former, Sakkari is a solid 1.43 favourite against the big-serving Muchova, who perhaps hasn't quite got the same quality of numbers on clay as she would have on other surfaces, and I think that's why the market is very pro-Sakkari today. On another surface, I think the match-up would be much closer.
Olympic champion Bencic is favourite against Andreescu, at 1.72, which does look about right. She has far better service numbers on clay, with Andreescu impressing more on return but not nearly to the same extent. Bencic eased past Reka-Luca Jane in round one while Andreescu needed three sets against Ysaline Bonaventure, fighting back from a tricky spot in set two.
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