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The final Masters 1000 event of the year takes place in Paris, and there is so much to love about this field. I've got two plays which I'm eyeing as the third day gets underway on Wednesday morning.
Jack Draper (-110) vs. Frances Tiafoe (-110)
Jack Draper, for my money, is one of the 15 best players on tour right now. Frances Tiafoe isn't very far behind, but I think this match will mean a little bit less to him.
Tiafoe's season, for all intents and purposes, is over. His work is done. The American made his first Grand Slam final and has jettisoned up the rankings. In recent weeks, he's appeared a bit tired after a marathon schedule, relying on his raw talent to get through matches. He lost rather unassumingly to Emil Ruusuvuori a couple of weeks ago, then Hubert Hurkcaz, and it's hardly a big accomplishment to take out Lorenzo Sonego.
Anyway, Tiafoe isn't nearly on the same heater he was on just a month ago. He has milked this season for all it's worth, and I think mentally he's a little spent.
Draper is going to come at Tiafoe like a ton of bricks with a huge lefty serve and power off of both wings. If Tiafoe thinks his net skills will win him this one, well, Draper is excellent at the net and very quick on his feet. He does little wrong out there, and the importance of this match to Draper, who is aiming to bring his ranking up from No. 45, is going to be higher.
Draper dominates indoors, going 24-4 on the surface this year across all levels. These are perfect conditions for another win.
Edge: Draper -110
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Tommy Paul (+230) vs. Rafael Nadal (-320)
How many times do we need to see Nadal off of a long layoff to finally fade him? He took time away from the sport after Wimbledon only to fall to Borna Coric in Cincinnati. When he took time off following the French Open, he had a balky start to Wimbledon which saw him blow several leads and drop sets. I just don't know if Nadal is ready to face someone bringing a top-20 level right now, and that's what we've got in Tommy Paul.
Am I going to call an outright win? No, I am not. These two played a pretty close match in Acapulco this season which saw Paul force a breaker after essentially tanking the first set and getting bageled. In the first round here in Paris, he beat Roberto Bautista Agut, a player who he'd never beaten, easily in two sets.
Paul is at home on slow hardcourts, because he's someone who loves clay but grew up on hardcourts. These should be prime conditions for his game, and it certainly looks like he's dialed in at the moment and playing with a purpose.
The American should keep this one close, and I reckon he takes a set.
Edge: Paul +1.5 Sets (-105)