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Back the favourites to start slowly in early rounds of French Open

| 15.05.2013

The tennis calendar rests only briefly, but ultimately there are only four events each year that the history books care to remember.

The problem that confronts the majority of punters who aren’t armed with an in-depth knowledge of the tour beyond the world’s top-30, is finding matches where they can invest without having to make an appointment with the bank manager.

The structure of the Slams dictates that qualifiers and wildcards are pitted against the very best in the world, rendering the traditional match betting markets off-limits for most wanting a bet.

Even the odds for straight sets victories can be prohibitive such is the gulf in talent between the players, but as explained below this is a positive reality for the punter.

The 3-1 scoreline result is surprisingly common in games with a heavy favourite and is regularly sent-off at a generous price.

Such is the confidence of the top players when facing lower opposition that if making a sluggish start they will not go all out to retrieve the first set, as they believe that once eased into the game they will always be able to find enough to win.

Conversely, unfancied players, buoyed by the occasion and the absence of pressure will often play their best tennis in the opening stages of the match, yet once the second set begins and their level drops behind the higher-ranked man, and the one with the most ability and experience, will improve and the following sets will catch up with the script.

Top players losing sets in the opening rounds of major events are widespread, but actually falling at the first hurdles is far rarer.

One of the main reasons why the men’s elite have a monopoly over the most sought-after competitions is the five-set format – it gives them more time to impress their superiority and less chance to be caught cold like in the smaller competitions on tour.

This can also be extended to when the underdog takes a two set lead. However, in these circumstances it is crucial to look at the record of the fancied players in a match that goes the distance.

In the same way that the lesser player will get dizzy when holding a significant lead, so do an unfortunate group of top players, such as the notoriously flaky Richard Gasquet. If it is discovered that a player, like the Frenchman, has a his history of squandering two set advantages, you can be assured that those damaging memories will return in force once the empire announces that final fifth set.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing



Sam Foster