Andy Murray begins his first assault at a major in 2012 by taking on Japan’s Tatsumo Ito in the first round of the French Open.
Despite having lost three of his last eight on clay, the Scot is still heavily favoured to beat his opponent, ranked 64 places behind the British number one.
Ito has played only 14 games in total on clay during his short career so far, having lost eight of them, and the odds of 1/4 on Murray to progress in straight sets forms the first of our first round accie.
Next up sees all attention on tennis’ new bionic man, Aussie Lleyton Hewitt, who is back from injury with screws and a metal plate in his left foot. It’s not ideal preparation for the former Wimbledon winner, and his one previous encounter with Slovenian qualifier Baz Kavcic ended in a straight sets loss on a hard court in the US last year.
But Hewitt is a solid and consistent performer in Paris, boasting the unique stat of being the only player in the 128-man tournament to have reached the last 32 in 10 straight appearances in Paris. He’s 4/5 to progress to a likely second round encounter against Novak Djokovic.
Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis has had a pretty torrid time of it of late, having lost his last three on clay, and only won two of his last seven matches in all competitions. Yet he should still be fancied here at 4/6, if only because his opponent’s form is even worse.
Juan Ignacio Chela has lost his last six matches in a row, his last win coming back in February. Baghdatis has also won the last three encounters between these two, with Chela claiming only two sets in that time.
Finally from the men’s draw, Tommy Haas comes into the tournament in fine form, having won seven of his last nine on clay, most recently in the French Open qualifiers, where he won all three matches without dropping a set. He’s 2/5 to beat Filippo Volandri.
Then to the women’s draw, where 9/4 tournament favourite Serena Williams is 1/200 to win her first round tie against Virginie Razzano, so we look elsewhere for value in our accumulator.
Jelena Jankovic has made the semi-finals at Roland Garros on three occasions, and despite not being at the top of her game, should have enough grand slam experience to make it past young Austrian Patricia Mayr-Achleitner, at 1/5.
Ekaterina Makarova and Sloane Stephens are two bright young talents in the women’s game, and the Russian looks well priced at 2/5 to beat the 19-year-old American who is still getting to grips with the adult field. Makarova made the fourth round last year and comes in to this match-up having lost two of her last five on clay.
French Open first round selections
Andy Murray to beat Tatsumo Ito 3-0 @ 1/4
Lleyton Hewitt to beat Baz Kavcic @ 4/5
Marcos Baghdatis to beat Juan Ignacio Chela @ 4/6
Tommy Haas to beat Filippo Volandri. @ 2/5
Jelena Jankovic to beat Patricia Mayr-Achleitner, @ 1/5
Ekaterina Makarova to beat Sloane Stephens @ 2/5