Novak Djokovic vs Henri Laaksonen Expert French Open Picks - 5/30/2019
Novak Djokovic vs Henri Laaksonen
4am EST, 30th May 2019
Roland Garros (Paris, France)
Novak Djokovic is on a hunt for yet another historic achievement this year in Paris. Not many players in the history of this sport managed to hold all 4 grand slam titles in their possession. Even fewer managed to do it twice in their careers. Actually, legendary Rod Laver is the only person that can say that, while Novak Djokovic has an opportunity to get in that boat by winning this tournament, after already completing non-calendar Grand slam in 2016. When talking about historic moments like that, it's easy to overlook these early round matches, where everybody expects these top seeds to glide through. Djokovic did it in the first round vs a very tricky opponent Hubert Hurkacz, who is making a breakthrough this year and has all the tools to become a top 20 player pretty soon. Laaksonen is not even inside the top 100. He should not pose any threat to Djokovic, but you never know. Bright lights of the center court can bring the best out of certain players. Henri might be one of them.
His path to the 2nd round was quite rocky. He was not ranked high enough to get himself a direct entry into the main draw. He played qualifications, defeated Brands and Arguello, but got stopped at the final stage by Mikael Ymer. Luckily for him, there were a couple of late withdrawals from the main draw and he got an opportunity instead of Sam Querrey as a "lucky loser". Stormed through that first round vs Pedro Martinez Portero, giving up only 7 games total and receiving a ticket to play Novak Djokovic for the first time in his career.
Laaksonen wasn't doing that bad for himself since the beginning of the clay court season. He had QF appearance in Houston and won a challenger in Rome 10 days ago. but I'm probably comparing apples to oranges here. Winning a challenger and facing Nole in his backyard are two different dimensions in the world of tennis. But, there is a chance for the Swiss player to keep this one competitive. Djokovic can be a slow starter in big tournaments sometimes. He doesn't want to burn out and/or show everything to his closest competition. He will take these matches to find some rhythm and time his form perfectly for the later stages. We've seen it numerous times from him and that is one of the reasons why he had so much success in Grand slams and big matches.
Laaksonen is not a bad player either. He proved that in Davis Cup earlier this year when battling both Danil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov very close. He is not too reckless with his play. He knows how to keep the ball in play. Use variety to change up the pace and prevent the opponent to find his range... Those are some of the things that might throw Djokovic off a little bit.
Betting odds & prediction
Laaksonen's win here would be considered as a massive upset. Scratch that. It would be considered as a true miracle. He is priced accordingly, in +2500 range across the board. Spread being +11 and total 25.5 are suggesting that anything else but a quick and straightforward win by Djokovic would be a surprise. Can't really argue with that. But from a betting standpoint, numbers matter. And with the spread being set so high, I believe it is creeping into the area where representing some value when taking all these points. For crying out loud, Laaksonen needs only 8 games total in 3 sets combined to push this over the total. Novak has to be pretty much perfect to cover this one and I mentioned a couple of things above that might spoil that (would be) perfect performance.
Josh's Pick: over 25.5 games (-107)
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