The Pick RG R1 Halys Isner

If you haven’t already noticed, this has been a tough year—at least in singles—for world No. 26 John Isner. In 2022, Isner is just 11-11 and his best results came at a clay-court tournament in Houston with a weakened field. Now, Isner takes his uneven form to Roland Garros, where he’ll look to defeat world No. 86 Quentin Halys in the opening round.

While Isner is just 2-3 in his last five clay-court matches, Halys has shined on the dirt at the Challenger level this season (9-3), allowing him to build up his confidence. The 25-year-old also happens to prefer clay, whereas the same really can’t be said for Isner. While Halys has a 60.4% winning percentage over his last 91 matches on the surface, Isner has won just 55.6% of his matches across his career in this environment.


It’s not that surprising to learn that the American can struggle on this surface, as the clay gives returners a better chance to handle his massive serve. Instead of Isner consistently pounding the ball right through the court, the dirt will occasionally make that ball kick right up and sit a little. It’s still one of the game’s most dangerous weapons, but opponents have a sliver of hope when it comes to making contact. That could make all the difference in a tiebreaker scenario, and that’s ultimately a big reason we like Halys on the game spread here.

Even if Isner is to earn a win over Halys, it’s hard to see him doing it without a few 7-5 or 7-6 sets. Halys is just going to have a huge advantage whenever these two find themselves in longer points, and Isner will likely struggle to break serve. His 25-year-old opponent might not serve as well as Isner—it can be argued that is true of anybody in the history of the sport— but Halys is pretty dangerous with the ball on his racquet. With that in mind, some closer sets would really give Halys a good chance to make this a tight battle. We wouldn’t put it past the Frenchman to win a set or two here—or even the match.

With Halys being a hometown player, expect the crowd to rally behind him in this one. That will give him some extra adrenaline, and with the way Isner is playing coming in, this just seems like far too large of a spread.

The Pick: Halys +4.5 Games (-150)