Day two of the French Open will showcase some of the best clay court players in the world. Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Dominic Thiem will be on display. While there doesn’t seem to be a favorite on the women’s side, everyone knows who the clear top dog is for the men: the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal, who is on the hunt for a 12th French Open title, while holding an 86-2 record at the French Open. It’ll be a fun event to watch, and maybe someone will be able to take him down. The second slate of the French Open includes 25 matches with both the men and women in action.
The players listed below can be used in any contest, whether it’s for cash or GPP. I personally like to use the same lineup in both, since the goal is to pick players who are going to win their match. If you choose to go down the route of playing the “stars and scrubs” strategy, you might be forced to choose players who are bound to get crushed. This strategy is risky as upsets happen quite often in tennis, and if one of your most expensive players gets beat you have a very low chance to cash. Let’s get into my top 3 plays for the slate!
Note: Tennis is available on DraftKings ONLY. The French Open is best of five set scoring for men’s players.
Stan Wawrinka $10,700
Stan Wawrinka, aka Stan the Man, aims for a second French Open title here in 2019. The world number 27 has had a rough couple weeks, winning three straight matches in Madrid then following it up with three straight losses. He faced 33 break points in those losses, and 15 in total over the previous five before that. It looks to be more of a mental issue for Wawrinka, as he’s taken the opening set in the last two matches and blew it away. However, he’s familiar with winning titles at Roland Garros, so maybe this is the boost he needs. On the other side of the court, Jozef Kovalik is looking to pull of the upset. The world number 132 has struggled on the ATP tour so far this season, posting an 0-3 record on the clay courts. In his two matches against top 30 players, he faced 14 break points and won only 49% of first serve points. He has a 4-7 record in total on the year, with three losses coming against players ranked outside of the top 150. Stan’s best surface is the clay, posting a 256-116 record throughout his career. If Wawrinka can get the patented down-the-line backhand rolling, this match could get ugly quickly.
Pablo Cuevas $10,000
Pablo Cuevas has been on a roll over the last month, playing 22 matches and winning 18 of them. The clay court maestro has the ability to compete with the best players on the tour, despite his relatively low ranking of 50. During his finals run in Estoril, he faced only 21 break points in seven matches, and if he can pick up the 76% of first serve points won to 80%, I think it might make all the difference. His first round opponent is Maxime Janvier, the world number 199 from France. Janvier playing in his home country might be the only thing that can save him in this match, because this match has blowout written all over it. Janvier has only defeated one player ranked inside of the top 250 on a clay court over the last 12 months. During that time span, he posted a 14-12 record on the surface, but the competition was poor in comparison to Cuevas. Maxime Javier managed to convert on only three of his 22 break point chances against Gasquet just one week ago, and that has to be a confidence drainer. I don’t see this match staying close, Cuevas should be able to get this done in three sets.
Yulia Putintseva $8,100
Yulia Putintseva has been nothing short of stellar on the clay courts in 2019, except for a beat down from Petra Kvitova but 95% of the WTA tour has that same issue. Putintseva took home a title on Nuremberg last week, defeating multiple clay court dominant players. The world number 39 is poised to make a deep run at Roland Garros, posting a 12-4 record on clay courts in 2019. Her first round match is against Rebecca Peterson, the world number 64 from Sweden. Peterson has had a solid 2019 with a 15-13 record, but she’s lost in straight sets to every top 50 player she’s faced on clay courts. In those three matches, she won only 41% of first serve points and got her serve broken 14 times. Putintseva has managed to win 21 return games in her last four matches, so Peterson will have to step up big time in crucial serving moments if she wants to stick around. Yulia is in top form and has all the confidence after winning a title, and if she can serve at a good rate, I can see this match ending in straight sets.
Possible upset/value play: Denis Shapovalov $6,700
It’s safe to say that Felix Auger Aliassime has taken over as the next “Canadian star”, but Shapovalov has a much more rounded game and has beaten some of the games best players. Shapovalov has a 2-5 record on clay courts so far this year, but four of them were against some of the great names in tennis in 2019. But the fifth loss was against his first round opponent at the French Open, Jan Lennard Struff. Shapovalov hit 10 double faults in that match, and after winning the first set it went downhill quickly. Denis has been in a serving slump, hitting only 58% of first serves in-play in the clay court season. He needs a confidence boost, and I think he’d like to get revenge on Struff. Jan Lennard has been phenomenal on the clay courts, taking down four top-25 players, and he has his serve to thank for his success. In his last five matches, he’s firing aces at an 18% rate which is very high for this surface. However, Struff does show his mental toughness lacking at times by just giving away service games at will when he loses the first point or two. Shapovalov has the skill and ability to beat the world number 44 if he can settle down and get his serves in-play. I can see this match going four or five sets, but Shapovalov will have the crowd behind him and that might just push him over the line.
Best of luck!