French Open tips: Carlos Alcaraz to shine against Denis Shapovalov in more favourable conditions

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"Remember. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies." So said big Andy Dufresne, probably the nicest geezer ever to lay his head down on a pillow at Shawshank State Prison.

And hope springs eternal for followers of this column at the French Open, where our outright picks Carlos Alcaraz and Iga Swiatek have each made imperious starts to their respective Roland Garros campaigns.

We've already seen some shocks in Paris. Second seed Daniil Medvedev had arrived at Roland Garros with big ambitions; in good form and in contention for the world number one ranking.

He was ludicrously short odds to beat qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild, but was beaten in five sets in a big French Open first-round shock before lamenting, "I had my mouth full of clay" in one of the more memorable sporting excuses for a defeat.

Alcaraz meanwhile will be an all-time great if he stays healthy. You can take that to the bank. The 20-year-old looked in total control on Wednesday as he won the first set in 32 minutes against Taro Daniel.

However, the Japanese underdog battled back following a poor second set from the Spaniard in windy conditions to level up. However 'Charly' then went through the gears to eventually wrap up a 6-1 3-6 6-1 6-2 victory in four sets.

With victory over Daniel, the Spaniard now has a match win rate of 78.8% at Grand Slams.

Only four players (who have played a minimum 10 matches in Slams) had a better win rate before the age of 21. Those four are Mats Wilander, Rafael Nadal, Bjorn Borg and Boris Becker. That is decent company, right?

Alcaraz is pure box-office and driving the men's game into a new era following the domination of the 'Big Three' of Roger Federer, Nadal and Novak Djokovic over the last two decades.

He meets Canadian Denis Shapovalov next on Friday. The two players have not met before, so for the time being their head-to-head record stands at 0-0.

However, this could be horribly one-sided as leftie Shapovalov was just 7/9 on the ATP Tour this season before this event kicked off.

Alcaraz is a 4/9 shout to win 3-0 but a better punt is the 17/20 with Planet Sport Bet that the match goes 'Under 29.5 Games'.

I fully expect the No.1 seed to once again accelerate off the grid, arrowing forehand winners and blending that with exquisite play around the net.

Conditions should be much more favourable on Friday looking at the Paris forecast. The wind clearly hampered him on Wednesday, and this is perhaps underlined by the fact he hit 47 winners against 36 unforced errors in blustery conditions.

The forecast is 'sunny and a gentle breeze' for Paris on Friday. However, Shapovalov could be forgiven for thinking he is caught in the eye of a hurricane on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Tip: Alcaraz v Shapovalov 'Under 29.5 Games' at 17/20 (Planet Sport Bet)

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