The French Open is now at the third round stage and on the men’s front we have the bottom half of the draw in action today. Second seed Andy Murray was up against it again in the last round, when another mental walk about meant he had to come from behind to win, this time against French Wild Card Mathias Bourgue who is ranked 160 in the world. Murray looked on for a routine win when he went a set and 2-0 up, but then seemed to take his foot off the gas.
Bourgue showed great instinct and composure to capitalise on Murray’s dip and playing far more aggressively reeled of eight games in a row to win the second set 6-2 and take the initiative in the third set, which he eventually won 6-4. Murray eventually got his act together and managed to turn the match around however, the manner of his last two performances have been far removed from what you would expect of a world number two. He definitely cannot afford to keep expending such physical and emotional energy going forward and if he does his tournament is more than likely going to come to a premature end.
Murray faces another veteran today in the shape of 27th seed Ivo Karlovic, who at the age of 37 is still going strong and due to his height of 6ft 10” possesses one of the best serves on tour. Murray will be buoyed by the fact he’s never lost to the Croatian giant and leads the head-to-head 6-0, but nearly all of their matches and sets have been very close and there have been eight tie breaks in total. Murray will no doubt progress to the fourth round, but it’s not going to be easy judging by his last two performances.
Another match that has the potential to feature tie breaks and could possibly go the distance is between veterans John Isner, who is seeded 15 and the unseeded Gabashvilli. Like Karlovic, Isner is 6ft 10” and possesses one of the best serves on tour, while Gabashvilli is a seasoned pro and in good form this week only dropping one set.
They’ve met three times previously, including twice on clay recording one win each, and both matches featured a tie break. This encounter is more than likely to feature at least one or two tie breaks given both players service statistics this week and with that in mind backing the Over 42.5 Games line at 10/11 is definitely worth considering.
Third seed Stan Wawrinka and eighth seed Milos Raonic are both in action today against Chardy and Martin respectively and both should progress without too much drama, as they’ve never lost against their opponents. Fifth seed Kei Nishikori and ninth seed and home favourite Richard Gasquet, both face potentially tough encounters today against Verdasco and Kyrgios respectively.
Nishikori trails the head-to-head 2-1 against Verdasco, who is a seasoned veteran and in good form this year on clay having won the title at Bucharest. I expect Nishikori to prevail in the end, but this will more than likely be a real close one, so it’s a surprise to see the Over Games line at 34.5 which seems very generous at 20/21.
Gasquet leads the head-to-head against Kyrgios 4-2 and won both their encounters on clay in straight sets, including last year in the final at Estoril. Due to the stage and five set format this one has the potential to be a lot closer, a real blockbuster and it would be great to witness a five set epic between the two. It definitely has the potential to be a match of this nature and it’s difficult to call the winner, but my gut instinct tells me Gasquet just because he is a better all-round player on clay and more experienced.