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French Open third round: Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova in action

Friday sees the start of third round action at the French Open in both the men’s and ladies’ singles draws.

Grand Slam great Roger Federer, 15/2 third-favourite behind Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal for the title, is the headline attractions in the former section. Defending women’s champion Maria Sharapova, meanwhile, faces an enthralling encounter with Sam Stosur.

Facing Swiss sensation Federer is Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur, who encounters the 2009 French Open champion for the first time. At 1/100 to defeat this relative unknown, odds-on favourite hardly does Federer justice, but you can substantially better that by backing him to win in straight sets at 1/8.

Japanese tennis ace and fifth seed Kei Nishikori meets German veteran Benjamin Becker (a 12/1 match outsider), but their head-to-heads are tied at two victories apiece. Punters should be aware that this Becker, unlike Boris, has never been past this stage of the French Open.

Nishikori, meanwhile, is the Far East’s rising star of this sport, and is a strong odds-on 1/50 match favourite. Like Federer, you can improve on that by taking 1/6 on the seed to win without dropping a set.

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Swiss number two and ninth seed Stan Wawrinka is set to face the USA’s Steve Johnson in their first-ever fixture. Having gone the distance at the Australian Open in 2014, Wawrinka is a worthy odds-on 1/10 match favourite against this Californian court surfer. It’s 4/9 Johnson succumbs in straight sets.

Sharapova, 11/4 to defend her ladies’ title at Roland Garros, has a 100 per cent success rate against Australia’s Stosur on clay, and that makes the Russian racket star a deserved favourite for their latest meeting at 2/9.

It may take three sets, however, as their last 16 match-up at the French Open in 2014 went the distance. Sharapova is 3/1 to repeat her 2-1 victory again 12 months on.

Two of the WTA’s top 20 also go head-to-head in round three with Sabine Lisicki (2/1) facing Lucie Safarova (odds-on 4/11 favourite). Germany’s Lisicki is seeded below Czech counterpart Safarova, but is 3-1 up from previous meetings, although that one loss was on clay at this event in 2009.

What we should have here is a close contest. It’s 11/4 Safarova wins in three sets and a nifty 9/2 for Lisicki to do that, while odds of 6/1 say there shall be a tie-break needed in either the first or second.