The French Open third round gets under way on Friday and our expert has the best bets.
I am not even going to try to predict what will happen with Murray against Ivo Karlovic. The giant Croat is always a threat with his serve but he was taken to 12-10 in the fifth by young Australian Jordan Thompson in the last round. I would just like to see a more solid performance from the Scot to give us some hope going into the second week, especially as Novak Djokovic looked human at times in his win over Steve Darcis. But even Stan Wawrinka looks in better shape in Murray’s half of the draw.
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Having had a pretty miserable time of it recently, Ernests Gulbis has impressed so far at Roland Garros this week and I would give him a good chance of causing an upset against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Frenchman was taken five sets by Marcos Baghdatis while Gulbis hit 60 winners - that’s SIXTY winners - in beating 26th seed Joao Sousa in straight sets. If the Latvian could keep this up - he won’t, of course - he would be a title contender. But we’ll hope he can keep it going for one more round at least.
Tomas Berdych came into this week under a cloud having ditched his coach just after being double-bagelled by David Goffin. He has not looked too bad in Paris but Pablo Cuevas presents a far stiffer test. The Paraguayan has performed well on clay this season and I think he is decent value to spring a surprise.
Yulia Putintseva saved me from drawing a blank in the second round and she should have enough to get the better of Karin Knapp. The Kazakh is as talented as she is temperamental and I expect her to enjoy facing Knapp’s serve. Putintseva is short enough to win but straight sets at 7-5 is tempting and I will have a small play on the 6-0 and 6-1 too.
My final bet is a bit out of left-field. Serena Williams has looked pretty awesome so far but she did look rattled, for all of about two minutes granted, when Teliana Pereira was trading effectively with her in the first set. Kristina Mladenovic has a good all-round game and with the home crowd behind her, I can see her asking some questions of the world number one. I think she is overpriced at 14-1 and I will be having a small play.