Preview and best bets for Open Sud de France

Preview and best bets for Open Sud de France

Fresh from backing Jannik Sinner to win the Australian Open at 13/2, Andy Schooler returns to preview this week’s ATP Tour event in Montpellier.

Tennis betting tips: ATP Tour

1pt e.w. Gael Monfils in the Open Sud de France at 9/1 (BetVictor)

1pt e.w. Arthur Cazaux in the Open Sud de France at 16/1 (bet365, William Hill, Star Sport)

Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook

Open Sud de France

  • Montpellier, France (indoor hard)

Jannik Sinner delivered for followers of this column at the Australian Open but there’s no time to celebrate or rest up.

We’re straight back to the task of trying to find winners with the ATP Tour resuming in Montpellier on Monday afternoon.

With this week also seeing Davis Cup Qualifiers, the field that’s gathered isn’t great, although that doesn’t mean it isn’t a decent betting heat.

The field is led by world number eight Holger Rune, the only top-25 player in the draw. Overall, there are only six from the top 50.

Rune did make the semi-finals here 12 months ago, when the tournament was won by a certain Mr Sinner, but I’ve no interest in backing him at 5/2.

Such short-priced favourites rarely appeal at these 250 events when motivation levels may not be at their highest.

Admittedly, Rune is here having requested a wild card so must want some matches under his belt, but the reason he’s asked for one isn’t great for his backers.

Basically, he’s only here due to his second-round exit at the Australian Open, which represents a somewhat disappointing start to his season.

Having appointed new coaches in the shape of Boris Becker and Severin Luthi in the off-season, it was surprising that neither were originally with him in Australia.

He’s since returned to his home in Monaco to train and it will be interesting to see who is in his courtside box in the south of France.

Whoever is in attendance is still likely to working on Rune’s game and so there’s a decent chance some experimentation is still going on in a bid to improve things long term.

In short, Rune’s not for me.

So, who is? Well, first let’s look at what we know about the tournament.

The GreenSet courts laid here usually play fairly fast, while French players have a strong record at the event with eight of the 13 previous winners coming from the host nation.

One of those is GAEL MONFILS, a player I’m prepared to give another go this week.

The veteran is a three-time champion in Montpellier, most recently in 2020, while he’s also appeared in another final.

As I’ve already pointed out once in this column this season, he’s a player who has regularly delivered his best results in this early-season period. That doesn’t surprise given Monfils’ body has often failed to stand up to the grind of the tour – he’s best backed following a decent rest which the off-season provided.

To put some flesh on those bones, over the last decade Monfils has won eight ATP titles and six of them have been claimed in January or February. He’s also made three other finals.

Overall, eight of his 12 career titles have come indoors so these are conditions which will suit.

The 37-year-old is in Rune’s half of the draw but, aside from the Dane, there looks little to scare the Frenchman.

He’ll open against Flavio Cobolli before facing either Bernabe Zapata Miralles or compatriot Constant Lestienne. Then could come fellow seed Borna Coric, a man who is very hit and miss.

That looks a fairly decent draw to me and I’m going to back the home hope at 9/1.

On the other side of the draw, I’m going with form and siding with another Frenchman, ARTHUR CAZAUX.

Some will find odds of 16/1 a little short, suggesting he’d have been at least double that price had he not enjoyed a run to the last 16 of the Australian Open.

But that’s exactly the route he has taken to Montpellier – his home city – with his start to the 2024 season highly impressive.

Cazaux bagged a title on the Challenger Tour in the opening week of the year but when the level of opposition rose in Melbourne, he was more than up to the task with three top-40 players defeated, including the aforementioned Rune.

He finally lost to Hubert Hurkacz in Melbourne and while he admitting being “sad” about that, he was certainly looking ahead with positivity, saying: “(There were) many firsts, like first top-10 win, first second week in a Grand Slam. So, of course, it’s a good week for me. I know it’s going to help me for the rest of the season.”

He also said he was relishing competing more often on the main ATP Tour (thanks to his ranking rise), adding: “My next tournament is going to be Montpellier, because it’s my own city. That one was in red on my schedule because I love my city, and I love this tournament.”

He sounds motivated to continue his splendid start.

Cazaux’s serving has been key to his success.

Having now won eight of his nine matches in 2024, he’s held serve 93% of the time with his first-serve points won percentage up at 81% and his second-serve points won at an impressive 57%.

He’s gone unbroken in four of those matches and hasn’t faced a break point in three of them, so coming into fairly slick conditions should see him tough to break.

When you add his service holds and service break percentages together, you get an excellent figure of 119. No-one here is matching that.

Cazaux opens against Max Marterer with Felix Auger-Aliassime lying in wait for the winner.

Yet it’s hardly been a sparkling start to the season for FAA and with the fading Andy Murray the other seed in this quarter, the draw has been kind.

Alexander Bublik is the man seeded to reach the final on this side of the draw and conditions will suit the big-serving Kazakh, who won here in 2022.

But he’s another who is notoriously unreliable and odds of 11/2 look short enough.

I much prefer a man in arguably the form of his life, playing in front of his hometown fans, at 16/1.

Posted at 1700 GMT on 28/01/24

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