This article is part of our Tennis Picks series.
The third round of the second Grand Slam of 2022 begins Friday from the red clay of the French Open. A couple of American men will be in action Friday, including an up-and-comer looking to repeat an upset win from earlier this year and a veteran looking to capitalize on a favorable draw. On the women's side, a former Grand Slam champion offers good value against an unseeded opponent while another could be in danger of falling in upset fashion. All match odds below are taken from DraftKings Sportsbook, but you can sometimes find more favorable odds on some of these matches by checking other mobile sportsbooks such as FanDuel, BetMGM or Caesars.
How players performed over the past six weeks or so should provide a good indication of their clay-court form heading into the lone Grand Slam played on the surface, and now we've also had a chance to see everyone play a couple matches at Roland Garros. The stakes are highest at the majors, and the men play best-of-five set matches rather than the best-of-three seen at other ATP Tour events. Conditions vary from tournament to tournament, and even from day to day, but clay generally plays slower than hard or grass, favoring players with better footwork, touch and ability to work the point rather than big servers. Using this context can help pinpoint intriguing betting opportunities, both among favorites likely to cruise to victory and underdogs ready to pull off upsets. The aforementioned underdogs are highlighted in the Upset Alert section, the Lock It In section covers players who can safely be considered overwhelming favorites, while the Value Bet section recommends enticing options in matchups that are considered closer to toss-ups.
Alcaraz seems to be feeling the pressure of being one of the title favorites at a Grand Slam for the first time, as he had to save a match point to get through Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the second round. The draw doesn't get any easier for him in the third round against a fellow standout young player in Korda. The 21-year-old American beat Alcaraz in Monte Carlo this year, handing the 19-year-old Spaniard his only loss in a four-tournament stretch that included titles in Miami, Barcelona and Madrid. Unlike most of his countrymen, Korda plays some of his best tennis on clay. He's yet to drop a set in this tournament and has defeated highly ranked opponents such as Felix Auger-Aliassime and Reilly Opelka on clay this year in addition to Alcaraz.
We have seen plenty of teenage sensations burst onto the WTA scene in recent years, and Parry's becoming the latest. The 19-year-old Frenchwoman backed up a 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 first-round upset of defending champ Barbora Krejcikova with a comprehensive 6-3, 6-3 win over Camila Osorio in the second round. Parry's status as the former junior world No. 1 suggests this success is a sign of more to come, and Stephens has certainly been beatable lately. Prior to pulling out a pair of comeback three-set wins in the first two rounds here, the former US Open champion and French Open runner-up had lost four consecutive matches.
Lock It In
The slow conditions neutralized fellow American Taylor Fritz against Zapata Miralles, but Isner should be able to avoid the same fate. Isner's an underrated clay-courter who once pushed prime Rafael Nadal to five sets at this tournament. The 6-foot-10 veteran's serve is so good that he's nearly unbreakable on any court, while Isner benefits just like any returner from the surface slowing down his opponent's offense on serve. Isner's most dangerous when he's locked in on the big points, namely in tiebreaks, so his 4-0 tiebreak record in this tournament is encouraging as he prepares to face the world No. 131 in this favorable third-round draw.
Given all the upsets we've seen in the women's draw, it's hard to feel confident locking in anybody but Iga Swiatek, who's idle Friday after dropping just four games through two rounds. Mertens looks like the surest bet among the favored women to take the court Friday. The Belgian is well-rested after getting a walkover in the second round, while Gracheva has had to pull out consecutive 7-5 in the third nailbiters. Mertens is a well-established all-court player, having made at least the Round of 16 at all four Grand Slams, and her edge in big-match experience should show against the 21-year-old Russian, who comes into this match with an 0-2 career record in Grand Slam third rounds.
Schwartzman has historically been the better performer on clay, but Dimitrov owns their head-to-head. After losing three of the first four sets these two played, Dimitrov has won each of the last seven, most recently improving his record against Schwartzman to 3-1 with a 6-0, 6-3 smack down on the clay of Madrid this year. Dimitrov has actually had an excellent clay-court season when he's been able to avoid Stefanos Tsitsipas, going 10-1 against other opponents but losing to Tsitsipas thrice.
Kerber should find a way to come out on top in this toss-up for a few reasons. The German has a clear edge in ranking at No. 17 compared to 47 for Sasnovich, and Kerber just beat Sasnovich on clay last Wednesday in Strasbourg to improve her head-to-head edge to 2-0. The disparity between the two grows even greater when factoring in prior Grand Slam success, as Kerber's a three-time major champion while Sasnovich is seeking just her second Round of 16 berth in 28 Grand Slam main draw appearances.