French Open Day 8: Murray faces mark II of third-round opponent
Andy Murray was fully aware that he couldn’t continue a run of five-setters if he had any intention of reaching a first French Open final at Roland Garros this year.
Murray was taken the distance by both Radek Stepanek and home player Mathias Bourgue in the opening two rounds, before making much lighter work of ace-machine Ivo Karlovic in round three.
The Brit has now reached the fourth round in 21 consecutive Grand Slams and his recent form on clay is strong, with 32 victories in his last 35 matches on the surface.
He is the headline attraction on day eight of the French Open and here are the matches that stand out from a betting perspective:
Murray to make mincemeat of Karlovic mark II
Ahead of his clash with Karlovic, Murray was preparing to face a giant big-serving opponent that he held a 6-0 win record against and that was coming into the match off a gruelling five-set victory in the previous round.
These facts all ring true of next opponent John Isner too.
The American is a little more mobile than the ageing Karlovic, but he has lost all five previous clashes with Murray and was hugely aided by the serving of 34 aces to see off Teymuraz Gabashvili in round three in a showdown that went the distance.
Isner has managed to force at least one tie-break in all of his defeats to Murray and has won a set in three of the last four tussles, but it is significant that these matches were all on hard courts, by far his favoured surface.
Murray’s capabilities on return, aptitude for mixing up speed and skill at manoeuvring players around the court should see him make light work of a fatigued Isner.
Best bet: Murray to win 3-0 @ 8/15
Nishikori gunning for quick-fire treble against Gasquet
It’s hard to believe now that a few weeks ago, Richard Gasquet held a perfect 6-0 head-to-head record against Kei Nishikori.
However, the momentum has clearly swung in this rivalry in the past month, with the Japanese player gaining successive clay-court, straight-set victories over his French opponent.
Gasquet is yet to drop a set in reaching this stage, but has a hoodoo to overcome in his home Grand Slam, having fallen at the fourth hurdle on all four previous occasions he has got this far.
If Gasquet is to turn around his fortunes, it will be critical that he serves well and ensures he hits balls deep to prevent Nishikori stepping in and using his potent forehand.
Interestingly, the percentage of first serves that he has been getting in has dropped in every match so far and a continuation of this Gasquet trend will put him in trouble.
Best bet: Nishikori to win @ 4/9
Halep to continue Madrid momentum gained against Stosur
Simona Halep warmed up for the French Open by lifting the Madrid Masters, where she blitzed past Sam Stosur in the semi-finals.
Halep won 11 straight games in that 6-2, 6-0 success, losing only seven points throughout on serve and taking all five break points she was given.
The Romanian has stated that Stosur’s game matches up well against hers, despite their head-to-head record of three wins apiece. Although Halep has won all three since 2013 to suggest she has worked out how to nullify her opponent’s strengths.
Stosur is the last remaining Australian in the French Open and should have gained a confidence boost through eliminating last year’s beaten finalist Lucie Safarova in round three.
Yet, Halep brings a different style to the court than the Czech left-hander and has to be fancied to build on her Madrid success, even if repeating the quality of that display will be close to impossible.
Best bet: Halep to win 2-0 @ 4/5
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.