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Friday, 19 October, 2018

Kuznetsov can give Murray a tough test at Roland Garros

Dolgopolov looks overpriced

Andy Murray hasn't spent much time on court recently
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Day three
Eurosport & ITV4, 
10am Tuesday

Andy Murray headlines the action on the third day at Roland Garros but the world number one has been struggling all season and is no certainty to come through unscathed against Andrey Kuznetsov.

Murray's preparation has been hampered by illness and he could be in for a tougher time than short odds suggest.

But bookmakers are wise to Murray's problems and he is as big as 2-11 to beat Kuznetsov which, in the context of the number one seed facing an unseeded opponent, is a fairly large price.

The Briton has won just five matches in four clay tournaments this season and, aside from a semi-final defeat against Dominic Thiem in Barcelona, he has lost to players he would be expected to beat comfortably.

Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Borna Coric and Fabio Fognini are all capable performers but an in-form Murray would have the beating of them.

He has had his share of troubles this year though. An elbow injury ruled him out of the Miami Open and it's possible that the Scot has been suffering from the lingering effects of shingles. More recently he admitted that his French prep had been hit by a bug.

Kuznetsov has enjoyed himself on the clay this year, scoring victories over Fognini and Ramos-Vinolas among others.

He made the semi-final of last week's Geneva Open, losing out to Stan Wawrinka, and pushed both Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to three sets in Monte Carlo and Madrid.

He doesn't have the game to trouble Murray at his peak, but if the Scot turns up in the form of recent weeks, there's reason to believe Kuznetsov should at least win a set.

Elsewhere in the men's draw, Alexandr Dolgopolov is the outsider against Carlos Berlocq but the Ukrainian ace could take out the Argentinian if he recreates the form he showed on clay in South America's Golden Swing.

The Dog won his third ATP Tour title in Buenos Aires where he saw off Kei Nishikori in the final. He then defeated David Ferrer in Rio before retiring in the quarter-finals against Pablo Carreno Busta.

Berlocq has chalked up plenty of victories in recent but several of those came against limited opponents. He could falter against Dolgopolov, who leads 4-2 in their personal battle and has won both clay meetings between the two.

The women's action sees tournament favourite Simona Halep make her 2017 Roland Garros bow when she takes on Jana Capelova but the Madrid champion should be watched at short odds considering the recent ankle ligament injury she sustained in Rome.

Alize Cornet has had a quiet year since she made the final of the Brisbane International but the Frenchwoman could spring to life when she faces Timea Babos in front of the home crowd.

Cornet has lost three of her four matches on European clay this year but defeats against Genie Bouchard, Shuai Peng and Elina Svitolina are understandable.

The 27-year-old, who reached the fourth round in Paris last year, is a three time WTA champion on clay and could make light work of Babos, who is not at her best on the surface.

Recommendations
A Kuznetsov to win at least a set v A Murray
2pts 4-5 Hills
A Dolgopolov
1pt 11-10 general
A Cornet to win 2-0
1pt 8-5 Betway

Kuznetsov has enjoyed himself on the clay this year, scoring victories over Fognini and Ramos-Vinolas among others
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