The pleasing week in Geneva and Lyon continued on Wednesday when our 2.35 chance of there being over 2.5 sets in the Lyon clash between Denis Shapovalov and Ugo Humbert was successful.
That was the fifth straight underdog winner of the week and it’s put us in a nice position ahead of Thursday’s quarter finals, but the day wasn’t without a hint of disappointment, well, more than a hint actually.
I said yesterday (and on Sunday) that Benoit Paire was a danger to our Pablo Cuevas outright and a dire performance from Cuevas in the wind in Lyon saw our outright hope lose as favourite to Paire yet again.
And it’s the aforementioned Paire that’s the subject of my wager on Thursday when he takes on Shapovalov at around 12:00 UK time in the Lyon quarter finals.
Benoit Paire vs Denis Shapovalov
As I said above, Paire had very little to do to defeat an atrocious Cuevas on Wednesday and the fact that once again Paire only managed to put 42% of his first serves in play and still won easily says it all about Cuevas on the day.
The Uruguayan was unable to cope with the wind out on the unprotected Court 1 and was putting balls long, wide and into the net with regularity, so there wasn’t a great deal of credit attached for Paire for this win.
Paire, who I spoke about in my pre-tournament outright preview having mentioned various ailments, has now revealed that he had an injection of some sort pre-tournament for neck pain, so his condition has to be under question at the moment.
Combined with his history of awful results the week before his home major and the fact that he has a terrible record against left-handers on clay and I’m happy to risk Shapovalov here.
Paire is 4-11 win/loss on clay at main level versus left-handers and in the matches that was priced up as favourite for he’s 1-5 win/loss.
He’s only held serve 66.3% of the time in those 15 matches and broken 24.8% of the time for a combined total of 91.3, which is very mediocre indeed.
The young Canadian, on the other hand, certainly showed plenty of passion in his clash with Ugo Humbert on Wednesday and while I was happy to take him on as a 1.50 chance in that match his odds are more appealing today.
He has a better record in the 1.90-2.20 price range, winning five of his last nine, and Shapovalov has beaten Paire on clay, albeit in quicker conditions in Madrid.
Elsewhere in Lyon, the other one I considered was to take Nikoloz Basilashvili against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but it’s the poor record of Basil against big servers of 4-16 win/loss that puts me off that one.
Tsonga’s coach, Thierry Ascione is the tournament director in Lyon and I wouldn’t be surprised if Tsonga’s playing here as a favour to him, but who knows?
I’m also not sure how seriously Roberto Bautista Agut is taking it this week, but he has won tournaments in pre-slam weeks before (Auckland twice and two finals/one title in Winston Salem) so perhaps he is likely to give it his all.
If so he should be able to keep Taylor Fritz at bay on clay, but I wouldn’t be totally convinced that Felix Auger Aliassime will beat Steve Johnson.
FAA should be winning this one, but he’s 0-3 win/loss and 0-6 in sets so far in his career against the big servers on my list, so maybe Johnson, if he serves at his best, can do some damage.
Moving on to Geneva and my outright pick there, Nicolas Jarry, looks to have a handy path through to the latter stages now that Stan Wawrinka and Cristian Garin are out, but he did lose to today’s opponent Taro Daniel the last time they met (also in a pre-major week).
You never know when the Jarry radar will malfunction and as well as he’s played so far this week, it can unravel pretty quickly with the Chilean, so I wouldn’t be stunned if Daniel’s more consistent game came through there, but it would be very disappointing.
The matches between Federico Delbonis and Albert Ramos and Damir Dzumhur and Radu Albot look real pick ‘ems, but if I were forced to make a selection I’d take Albot.
The Moldovan choked away his chances of upsetting Dzumhur at the French Open from a winning position in a fifth set last year and Albot has a clear fitness advantage, with Dzumhur having played 11 sets already this week (Albot, five).
Delbonis withdrew from the doubles in Geneva citing a lower back injury, so read into that what you will, but it makes his match even tougher to call than it already was.
0.5 points win Shapovalov to beat Paire at 2.07