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The final Masters 1000 event of the year takes place in Paris, and there is so much to love about this field. I’ve got two plays which I’m eyeing as the first day of play concludes on Monday afternoon.
Andy Murray (-370) vs. Gilles Simon (+275)
On the surface, this head-to-head looks pretty damning. Murray has gone 16-2 against Simon over the course of both men’s long careers, and you have to go back seven years to find the last time Simon was able to take down Murray.
With that being said, there are a few things to note here. First of all, neither man is anywhere close to where they were the last time they played in 2016, which by the way happened to be a three-set epic. This is Simon’s final year on tour, and surely his final tournament, at home in Paris. Murray, however, played at close to a No. 1 level for the majority of his career and is barely one of the 50 best players around right now.
The other thing here is that these two have never met in France, where crowds have been known to lift French players to great heights. These will be slow indoor hardcourts, which Simon seems to fancy. The only two times he was able to defeat Murray came on a slow indoor hardcourt and on a clay court.
Simon’s best results have come on indoor hardcourts, and despite the fact that his level has been fleeting all year I think there’s a good chance he can sink his teeth into this match. He’s truthfully been playing some inspired tennis in the last couple of months despite a .500 record, and I think he will go out with a bang here against a very mediocre-looking Murray.
Edge: Simon +1.5 Sets (+110)
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Sebastian Korda (-140) vs. Alex De Minaur (+110)
At long last, we get a rematch of the show these two put on at Wimbledon last year. In that match it was Korda coming through in four, and ever since both men have had very different results. Korda has really struggled to find form this year at 34-21 across all levels, while De Minaur stands at 43-23.
Lately, though, we’ve seen some inspired play from the American and some lackluster stuff from the Aussie. Korda has gone to back-to-back finals at indoor tournaments, first losing to Andrey Rublev in the Gijon final then losing to Felix Auger Aliassime in the Antwerp final. Both can hardly be considered bad losses, considering they came against top-10 players, and along the way he came up with huge wins over Dominic Thiem, Yoshi Nishioka, Karen Khachanov, Roberto Bautista Agut and others.
De Minaur has now lost two matched in a row and three of his last six. On top of that, he’s never been a great player on slow surfaces, given his all-world defense doesn’t make a huge impact when everyone has time to chase down balls. The conditions, the head-to-head and the form all favor Korda, and that’s where I’ll be putting my money.
Edge: Korda -140