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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Pouille can make light work of Bellucci at Roland Garros

Muguruza looks in top form

Lucas Pouille had to battle past Julien Benneteau
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Eurosport & ITV4, from 10am Wednesday

Lucas Pouille needed five sets to take care of compatriot Julien Benneteau in Sunday’s first-round match but the Frenchman returns to Court Philippe Chatrier with a point to prove and he can take his frustration out on Thomaz Bellucci.

Pouille was expected to make light work of Benneteau but was forced to dig deep to comeback from 2-1 down.

He has been practising with clay legend and tournament favourite Rafael Nadal in the build-up to Roland Garros and many view him as a future top-ten player at the very least.

Pouille won the Hungarian Open last month and will be looking to regain that form as he eyes a run at the Roland Garros title.

Bellucci is a solid clay-courter but the Brazilian’s best days look to be behind him and Pouille should cause problems if he hits top gear.

The 23-year-old is understandably short in the match betting but punters can consider taking the 4-6 that Bellucci fails to win more than one set against the fiery Frenchman.

British number three Aljaz Bedene has admitted he is considering switching allegiance back to Slovenia in a bid to play Davis Cup tennis once again but off-court distractions have not stopped the 27-year-old playing some of his best tennis in recent months.

Bedene won back-to-back Challenger titles on the clay earlier in the season before losing out to Pouille in the Budapest final.

Only Pouille, Milos Raonic and Novak Djokovic have beaten Bedene on the dirt this season and he should be supported when he faces Jiri Vesely.

The towering Czech shocked Jack Sock in his opener but he has already met with two second-round defeats at Roland Garros and is yet to pass that stage in any of his last five tournaments.

Bedene started his French Open campaign with a comfortable four-set victory over Ryan Harrison and he looks capable of making the third round for the second year in a row.

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic headline the list of big names in action in the men's draw and they should have no issues taking care of Robin Haase and Joao Sousa respectively.

Bookmakers believe that reigning women's champion Garbine Muguruza could face a stern test against Anett Kontaveit.

Muguruza looked in top form when she dismissed Francesca Schiavone on Monday but she can be backed at as big as 4-7. 

Madrid quarter-finalist Kontaveit beat Muguruza in Stuttgart and she has made significant progress this season, but the Spanish star looks a different player on the courts of Roland Garros.

She struck the ball superbly against Schiavone and the layers reacted by making her a single-figure price to retain the title that she won in such good style last year. Expect her to get revenge with a degree of authority.

Recommendations
L Pouille -1.5 sets
2pts 4-6 Betfair, Paddy Power
A Bedene
1pt 17-20 Hills
G Muguruza to win 2-0
1pt 11-8 Coral, Ladbrokes

Pouille won the Hungarian Open last month and will be looking to regain that form as he eyes a run at the Roland Garros title
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