Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: ATP Tour 2020: Open Sud de France Preview

ATP Tour 2020: Open Sud de France Preview

ATP Tour 2020: Australian Open Preview - Round of 32

Damien Kayat takes a look at the selected round of 32 matches from the ATP Tour Open Sud de France taking place at Arena Montpelier. 

ATP Tour 2020 | Open Sud de France | Arena Montpelier (Indoor Hardcourt)
Selected Round of 32 and Round of 16 Matches - 05 February 2020

Richard Gasquet (5/4) 
vs Gilles Simon (11/20)
This gallic affair eatures two players with enormous talent in the twilight of their careers. A harsh critic would say they are underachievers, though 29 shared titles says otherwise. 35-year-old Gilles Simon actually has two Masters 1000 finals to his name, with losses at the 2008 Madrid Final and 2014 Shanghai Final. He has 14 ATP titles to his name. He has shown a certain penchant for French conditions, reaching seven finals in his home country. Last year was a mostly uneventful year for Simon, with a semi-final at the Grand Prix Hassan a sign of decent early-season form. But it was an unheralded appearance in the Queen’s final that really defined his campaign. He was decent in Melbourne, losing to the inspired home favourite Nick Kyrgios in four sets.

Richard Gasquet is the all-conquering king of Montpelier. The diminutive Frenchman has won four titles here since 2006. He has also been the losing finalist on three occasions. That includes back-to-back runner-up finishes in 2017 and 2018.  Gasquet loves these particularly fast indoor conditions, which tend to allow for shorter baseline exchanges. The 33-year-old has suffered some injury concerns over the past six months, having just recovered from hernia issues. 2019 was largely disappointing for the mercurial Frenchman, though a few standout results typify the man. A semi-final in Rosmalen was one thing. But a herculean run the semi-finals in Cincinnati was a real retro moment for Gasquet. Gasquet will be a tad rusty but perhaps returns to the best possible venue for a comeback.

These two are certainly no strangers to each other. Gasquet comfortably leads the head-to-head stakes 8-2. It was actually Simon who won their last match at the 2018 Moselle Open. But there may be some value in going for Simon here, especially considering Gasquet’s injury concerns. 

Denis Shapovalov (9/4) 
Vasek Pospisil (7/4)
An all-Gallic affair is followed by an all-Canadian one.  This one has a fairly unique subtext given the events of last year’s Davis Cup. Denis Shapovalov and Vasek Pospisil virtually carried the Canadian team into the final of the event. So, there will be few secrets between these guys. Vasek Pospisil was once a promising Grand Slam prospect. But massive injury issues and huge vacillations in form have seen him plummet in the world rankings. Just last year he had to undergo an operation on a herniated disk. But he slowly started to regain some confidence towards the end of the year, with back-to-back Challenger titles. He beat Bedene in straight sets in his opening game and will have no fear playing against his fellow countryman. 

Denis Shapovalov looked destined to join a host of nearly-rans who never quite fulfilled the potential of some eye-catching early performances. But his 2019 campaign had something unusual in store for Shapovalov: consistency. He reached the quarters here last year prior to a magnificent semi-final run in Miami. He then had to wait for the latter part of the hardcourt season for more success. But a semi-final at the Winston-Salem Open was followed by another semi-final in Chengdu.  He then won an admittedly weak Stockholm Open. But it was the appetizer to a rousing final event of 2019. He would reach the final of the Masters 1000 event in Paris, with only the indomitable Novak Djokovic conquering him. Shapovalov seems to have physically matured over the past two years and could be set for a big 2019. 

I was fairly surprised to discover that this will be only their third meeting. Shapovalov leads 2-0 and is yet to drop a set.  And all common sense points to an easy victory for the big-hitting left-hander. There is always a temptation to opt for the underdog in these matches between compatriots: perhaps the match might not have the same edge, etc. But perhaps the best option is to split the difference and opt for a three-sets Shapovalov victory AT 3/1. Perhaps Pospisil will benefit for their familiarity, but I can’t see him winning the match.  

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