Damien Kayat has found us a tasty 9/1 double at the Lyon Open round of 16. Matches tipped are Dominic Thiem vs Cameron Norrie and Aljaz Bedene vs David Goffin.
2021 ATP Tour
ATP 250 Series
Lyon, France (Clay)
Selected Round of 16 Matches- 20th May
Dominic Thiem 29/100 | Cameron Norrie 51/20
Austrian Dominic Thiem is widely regarded as the ‘Prince of Clay’. 10 of his 17 titles have come on this surface (though his one Grand Slam title did come at last year’s US Open). Thiem’s brilliant groundstrokes and impeccable movement are perfectly suited to the rigours of this surface. A champion here in 2018, things have been a bit quiet for the Austrian this year. He has only managed to reach one semi-final this year, ceding ground to both Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alex Zverev in the race to catch up with the so-called ‘Big Three’. Thiem actually took two months off from competitive action in March. He had knee issues and just generally wanted to recharge after a disappointing start to the season. He returned to action in Madrid where he was his usual efficient self: he reached the semi-finals. He then bowed out in the 3rd round to Lorenzo Sonego in Rome. Thiem needs a strong showing this week to restore confidence ahead of Roland Garros.
25-year-old Brit Cameron Norrie has been a mainstay on the tour for some time now. He has always had a penchant for clay and his 2021 clay-court form has been solid. He started 2021 by reaching the semi-final of the Delray Beach Classic. He would later go on to reach the quarterfinals in Mexico. But it was in Barcelona that things really started to roll for the British lefty. He defeated both David Goffin and Karen Khachanov on his way to the quarterfinals. That set him up perfectly for his brilliant week at the Estoril Open. Norrie reached his 2nd ever ATP Final and first on clay in Estoril. He lost to Ramos-Vinolas in a tight three-set match. Norrie is in really good clay-court nick and he could prove a tricky opponent for Thiem.
Verdict: Thiem in three sets at 26/10
If Thiem fails to win in Lyon this week, it will be the first time he enters Roland Garros without a title since 2014. He currently leads Norrie 1-0 in their head-to-head stats (Thiem barely scraped by the Brit in Acapulco in 2018). The fact that Norrie is a lefty gives him certain advantages over Thiem. He can attack Thiem’s weaker side- his backhand- with more regularity. But don’t get too excited: Thiem has beaten Nadal four times on clay. I think this will prove tricky for Thiem. A three-set victory for the Austrian at 26/10 looks like decent value.
Aljaz Bedene 18/10 | David Goffin 42/100
David Goffin is quite an enigma. The 30-year-old has been a perennial figure in the top 20 of the men’s rankings. But he’s never been a player you could necessarily bank on. He just doesn’t possess that one weapon that can dominate affairs. This season has actually been a perfect distillation of his career thus far. He won a title at a slightly lightweight Montpellier event. But there has also been a plethora of early exits at the more elite events. He lost in the opening match of the Aussie Open and there were early exits in Rome and Miami. One ray of light for Goffin will be Monte-Carlo. He beat Alex Zverev in straight sets en route to an impressive quarterfinal. But how much can you rely on the mercurial Belgian? I always see him as a likely candidate for an early exit in these Grand Slam precursors. It all depends on how much aggression we see from Slovenian Aljaz Bedene.
Bedene is an interesting figure on tour. He was a naturalized Briton who returned to play for Slovenia in 2018. Bedene’s game- much like Goffin- is built on ultra-consistency. He has built a solid season without that one breakthrough performance. His current 2021 win-loss record stands at 11-9. That includes a quarterfinal run on the clay courts of Caligari. He completely trounced Gilles Simon in his opening match. Bedene also has a notable clay court pedigree. He reached the final of the 2017 Hungarian Open before doing the same at the 2018 Argentina Open. Of his 27 Challenger and Futures Finals, 21 of them were on clay.
Verdict: Akjaz Bedene at 18/10
These two have met once before. I don’t know how relevant that is considering it was all the way back in 2010 (Bedene won that tie in the Meknes Challenger event). These are generally the type of matches that Goffin feasts on. I just think there is real value in a Bedene upset. Goffin just has to be a fraction off to make an upset possible. And Bedene is a consummate professional who could take advantage of that.