A look at five potential first round upsets at the 2012 French Open.
Silvia Soler Espinosa to beat Anabel Medina Garrigues at odds of around 2.7
If the meeting between the two Spaniards at Estoril earlier this year is anything to go by, this is set to be a war of attrition. There, the Soler Espinosa prevailed in a marathon three setter, the only time these two have met on the tour. Age is a factor and it gives Soler Espinosa the edge over 29-year-old Medina Garrigues who has been fighting back from a debilitating ankle injury which she suffered in late 2011. The senior player's ranking has slipped to 31 but she remains the bettors' favourite for this despite the head to head deficit. Fifty-four ranked Soler Espinosa is good value to repeat the Estoril win. Her stamina for the battle looks superior.
Casey Dellacqua to beat Sara Errani at odds of around 9.6
I have taken Errani as an outsider to win the tournament at 180.00 but her price has crashed down to around 130.00 and I'm laying back now that the draw is confirmed. This is a tough first rounder for the Italian and the 107 ranked Australian - who has history in causing shock first round exits - has a 1-0 head to head against the 23rd seed on the Clay court surface. That win was achieved at Strasborg in 2008 and the fact that Errani is considered the superior clay courter, and went 13 games unbeaten earlier this year, encourages me. Dellacqua obviously read the Errani tactics that day and her big serve and booming forehand is exactly the stuff against which Errani - a superior doubles player - can be found wanting. This would be a big shock with the odds as they are but it's a bet either way in view of the plus I still hold on the Italian in the outright winner portfolio. Betting tactics!
Ayumi Morita to beat Polona Hercog at odds of around 2.6
I was working with a Japanese film crew this week who asked me to name the most famous Japanese celebrity I knew of. I answered with the admirable veteran Kimiko Date Krumm but when they realised I was in to tennis, the crew giggled and informed me that Date Krumm was not in the same celebrity league as 22-year-old Ayumi Morita. She's considered a timebomb in Tokyo and a candidate for first Japanese Grand Slam champion. I looked in to the youngster's recent form and I have to admit that I had her down as a burnt out prodigy. However, her win against the Slovenian Hercog in three sets during Fed Cup week earlier this year does suggest that there may be potential for a bet against the odds here. Morita is ranked down at 88 now having been much higher earlier in her career whereas of the two, I would have had Hercog as more my idea of a potential future champion. But the film crew showed me footage of recent Morita play and that third set taken 6-1 against Hercog showed that the Japanese woman's play has developed. She has been working on her strength over the winter and it looks to be paying off. The market may well have erred here if my film crew colleagues are correct.
Vania King to beat Galina Voskoboeva at odds of around 2.6
Good old yankee Vania is a standing dish for my first round upsets column. And a successful one. So I include her again, although the odds aren't great this time. She holds the edge over slightly higher ranked Kazakstani Galina Voskoboeva. Also the head to head plus was achieved in Beijing 2009 in straight sets.
Anastasia Rodionova to beat Mathilde Johansson at odds of around 2.05
Australian émigré Rodionova holds only a slight plus over French émigré-elect Mathilde Johansson. A straight sets head to head win on the hard court in Tokyo 2009. With odds almost equal, perhaps this doesn't qualify as a first round shock but a winner is a winner and I do fancy Rodionova for that title even though she's slipped out of the top 100. Johannsson at 92 is little better and this is one of those 50-50 calls that bettors fancy to go one way or the other (without having any idea which). I watched that match in Tokyo and made a mental note at the time along the lines that the Swede (as she was then) would never win this match up. Rodionova read everything Johansson did and won more easily than the 6-2 7-5 scoreline suggests. It's time to see whether I got that observation right.
Betting recommendation is level stakes singles all five with two or three correct to turn a profit.