Whisper it, but 2016 looks like the best opportunity that Novak Djokovic has had yet to win his first French Open crown and complete the career Grand Slam.
His nearest rivals are showcasing signs of weakness, while the Serb himself appears to be playing some of his best clay court tennis in years.
Rafa Nadal, for example, has been in good form recently, but you get the feeling that his first serve and his formerly all-conquering backhand are now vulnerable to attack. Dominic Thiem, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and David Goffin are all capable of posing questions of the Spaniard in that quarter of the draw.
Andy Murray, meanwhile, has been taken to two five-set encounters by journeyman Radek Stepanek and unknown Mathias Bourgue, and that is hardly ideal preparation for potential future meetings with the likes of John Isner and one of Kei Nishikori/Richard Gasquet/Nick Kyrgios.
And then there’s reigning champion Stan Wawrinka, who was taken to a fifth set by Lukas Rosol in the first round.
So by a process of elimination, we can see that Djokovic has an outstanding opportunity to win this tournament, and it is only his psychology that will ultimately prevent him from doing so. At a price of 1.75, he still represents great value.
The round of 32 will continue today and throughout the weekend, and a number of match-ups catch the eye.
Roberto Bautista-Agut (1.43) will be fancied to see off young Croat hopeful Borna Coric, given that in their two clay court encounters he has won in straight sets on both occasions. Coric was taken to five sets by Bernard Tomic, who readily admits he hates playing on slow surfaces, so backing the Spaniard makes sense.
Pablo Cuevas has plenty of fans who enjoy clay court action, and the Uruguayan is fast becoming one of the handiest slow surface specialists around. He has beaten Gael Monfils and Phillip Kohlschreiber in recent weeks and taken sets from Kyrgios and Milos Raonic, so the pedigree is there.
His opponent, Tomas Berdych, looks slightly vulnerable in these conditions – he lost 0-6 0-6 to David Goffin a fortnight ago and dropped a set to Malek Jaziri in the second round here, so we expect Cuevas to win at least one set. As a consequence, the over 37.5 game mark at 1.85 looks a sublime bet; in fact the best of today’s betting tips from Betadvisor.
And finally, we’re happy to tip up Ernest Gulbis’ chances against Jo-Wilfred Tsonga. Gulbis looked in sublime form in his straight sets win over Joao Sousa, while the local hero Tsonga was taken to five sets by Marcos Baghdatis. This match could go all the way, so Gulbis with a +3.5 game handicap at 2.00 makes sense.
It has been a tough time for the womens seeds so far, with three of the top-ten already departing: Viktoria Azarenka, Angelique Kerber and Roberta Vinci have all packed their bags. Serena Williams is still standing tall though, as are Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep and many people’s dark horse for the title Timea Bacsinszky, who was available pre-tournament at 50.00.
Head-to-head stats are often a great indicator in tennis; some players really struggle to get to grips with certain opponents. There are some great examples of that here, including Ana Ivanovic, who looks a very generous price at 1.66 given that she holds a 7-0 h2h lead over her opponent, Elina Svitolina.
Elsewhere Venus Williams must have been delighted to draw Alize Cornet in the last 32; she holds a 5-0 h2h lead over the Frenchwoman and has never dropped a set to her. Naturally then, the odds of 1.94 on her to win 2-0 here are very generous, and can be added to today’s best betting tips with relish.
Finally, Bacsinszky will be confident she can see off world number 88 Pauline Parmentier in straight sets. The Swiss starlet has only been beaten by Muguruza and Halep on this year’s clay swing, while Parmentier generally plays on the Challenger Tour; with mixed success. Take the 1.75 on offer for the Bacsinszky 2-0 win.