Tennis: French Open Betting Preview

Profile Picture: Alastair Bull

May 23rd, 2019

Can anyone beat Rafael Nadal?

As it has been for the past 14 years, this is the only question for punters heading into the French Open.

French Open Free Picks:

Men's Play: Rafael Nadal (+110), Dominic Thiem (+500)

Women's Play: Kiki Bertens (+800), Karolina Pliskova (+1400), Johanna Konta (+4000)

Given that he's won the event 11 times, it's hard to bet against him. But for the moment, he's at better than even money. His +110 quote reflects a less-than-dominant run toward the tournament than usual.

Prior to this year he'd also dominated the clay court lead-up tournaments, winning the Monte Carlo Masters 11 times, Barcelona Open 11 times, Italian Open eight times and the Madrid Open (which he plays less often) five times. This year, however, he was beaten in the semi-finals at Monte Carlo (to Fabio Fognini), Barcelona (to Dominic Thiem) and Madrid (to Stefanos Tsitsipas).

But if anyone wondered about vulnerability, Nadal defeated world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in last week's Italian Open. And though he's less of a certainty than usual, the +110 odds are extremely attractive for the greatest clay-court player of all time.

Djokovic is second favorite at +240, but by far the best value of the others is Thiem. The Austrian has beaten Nadal in four of their 12 clashes, all on clay, and he's worth a punt at +500. Tsitsipas is also a player to watch during the tournament.

While Nadal is a clear favorite among the men, the women's tournament is extremely open. Defending champion Simona Halep is the +400 favorite, but her best result recently was a finals loss at Madrid to Kiki Bertens. Other notable tournament winners in the clay court lead-ups have been world No. 2 Karolina Pliskova, winner in Rome last week, and Petra Kvitova, the winner in Stuttgart.

The most consistent player in the clay lead-ups has been Bertens, who looks like a good value at +800, while Pliskova's odds of +1400 are particularly appealing.

World No. 1 Naomi Osaka is third favorite at +1100, but those odds look low given her lack of success to date on clay. Serena Williams is fourth favorite at +1200. She also looks under the odds, given her lack of recent tennis, but she can never be underestimated.

The best value bet outside the favorites is possibly beaten Rome finalist Johanna Konta at +4000.