Tomorrow continues a major shift in the tennis landscape as US Open play ends and the clay season begins in full throttle in preparation for Roland Garros. Once again, surface preferences are a major consideration for player selection. A good portion of these players have historically underperformed on clay or have not played a match on the surface since last May. Both of these easily overlooked factors may help us find value in both betting odds and Draftkings salary.
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Format: (Draftkings Salary, American Betting Odds as of publication)
Price Glitch Chalk: Anett Kontaveit ($8,800, -440)
Sometimes there is simply no need to be cute with your lineups. Kontaveit is priced as a -440 favorite over Caroline Garcia, will very likely win, and will probably put up a great score. She is the best value on the board and should be in a majority of your lineups if not all of them.
Milos Raonic ($10,000, -500)
The big server and big guy in general is not really known for his clay court play, but he has been excellent on the hard courts the past year. He boasts a solid 7-4 record and excellent 1.24 dominance ratio versus rank 10-100 opponents during the past year. His service game cannot be ignored, either. His 4.5-1 ace to double fault ratio plays great in best-of-3 scoring, where aces are more rewarding and double faults are less of a downside. Even with clay factored in, he should make a healthy profit on his service game alone, resulting in one of the best median fantasy outcomes on the slate.
His opponent, Mannarino, has been rather average the past year. His 1.12 DR is impressive, but his 11-10 record indicates it is probably driven by a few outlier matches than overall high level play. Like Raonic, Mannarino mostly avoids clay and has not played as well on the surface as on hard courts. Considering neither player will be in ideal conditions, Raonic’s considerable talent advantage should help him grind out at least something of a 6-4 6-4 straight set victory with ace value to boot.
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina ($9,300, -220)
This up and comer’s name is a mouthful, but you might as well get used to saying it. This 21-year-old has some game. A Spaniard, Fokina is no stranger to clay, and has played about as many matches on the surface as on hard and seems comfortable in both conditions. As far as recent form, Fokina has about everything going for him. He is coming off an equally unlikely and impressive 4th round finish in the US Open, which was low key one of the more impressive runs in the tournament. He also had to qualify for Rome, which resulted in 3 decisive victories over his opposition and only 1 dropped set to a decent opponent in Londero.
Lajovic, while a fine clay courter, has not been all that stellar lately. His 7-12 record and .97 DR for the year screams mediocrity, though he’s been stuck on hard courts during that time frame. It’s possible he is due for a clay court bump, but he did not look overly impressive in his 3 set loss to Hanfmann.
Tennys Sandgren ($8,000, -150)
Sandgren (5-4, 1.04) has a better record on the year than his opponent Caruso (4-9, .92). I think there can definitely be a case made that Caruso is not far off from Sandgren on talent, especially on clay, but Sandgren has an ace up his sleeve: qualifiers. Sandgren played and won two qualifying matches on his path to his match, suggesting a level of familiarity and comfort with the court conditions. Sonego has played a fair amount of clay during his career, so this would normally not be a big deal. However, he has not played a match on the surface since March and is transitioning from some especially fast court conditions in New York. Sandgren is a rightful favorite here and could easily capitalize if Sonego starts off slow.
Bernarda Pera ($7,200, -115)
Priced as a slight underdog, Pera is a good value based on her current betting line alone. Her year-to-date numbers (8-6, 1.04) are comparable to Kuznetsova’s (5-4, 1.08), and she has historically been much better on clay (12-7, 1.09) than on hard (21-28, .97). If Pera can transition her improved hard court game to her already solid clay court game, she has a real shot at simply outmatching the 35-year-old veteran. Just be aware that Kuznetsova got a tune-up clay last week and Pera has not played on clay in over a year. Rust could factor in here even if Pera has played more tennis overall than Kuznetsova since the break.
Denis Shapovalov ($6,800, -115)
The odds versus price here are so good that they are approaching price glitch territory, and Shapovalov has been a solid player overall the past year (17-11, 1.05). That alone makes Shapovalov a top value pick.
However, I do have to caution that I think this is a letdown spot for Shapovalov, who is coming off a very solid US Open run. I would normally back him over Pella’s (7-12, .95) performance easily, but we have to respect the court conditions here. Shapovalov has been better on hard courts than clay, while Pella has easily performed much better on clay courts than hard courts (about a 10% win rate and .09 DR difference for his career) and got a couple of tune-up matches on clay last week. Pella could easily ruin any value Shapovalov has even if he will likely struggle to pay off his $8,900 salary.
Vera Zvonareva ($6,500, +150)
The 36-year-old Zvonareva (7-4, 1.06) has been a surprising success story the past year, and has continued to show off tennis prowess coming off the break. While she lacks the benefit of any tune-up matches on clay, she has historically not had issues on the surface and I expect she will find a way to transition her solid game onto the slower courts.
Her opponent, Kasatkina (4-12, .89) opens as a surprising -200 favorite over Zvonareva. While Kasatkina has the benefit of a couple qualifier matches leading into this match and the court conditions are more favorable to her than her veteran opponent, she has not generally played quality tennis the past year and she has always demonstrated difficulties with double faults and holding serve. I think Kasatkina could pull this one out for sure, but Zvonareva has great upside and value for a very low price.