|Andy Murray (ew)||To Win Outright – Men’s||9/2||Sky Bet|
|Serena Williams||To Win Outright – Women’s||5/2||Sky Bet|
|Timea Bacsinszky||To Win 2nd Quarter – Women’s||11/2||Betfred|
|Irina-Camelia Begu||To Win 3rd Quarter – Women’s||16/1||BetVictor|
|Lucie Safarova||To Win 4th Quarter – Women’s||10/1||Sky Bet|
We preview both the men’s and women’s tournaments, plus we will be posting daily tips from Roland Garros throughout the tournament here.
This year’s French Open is arguably the most difficult men’s slam to call in several years, with credible cases to be made for at least four players heading into the event – and while Roger Federer’s withdrawal has removed another option, its doubtful we’d have been talking about him too seriously, such are the strengths of our three key players.
Starting with Novak Djokovic (10/11 Betfair) – this remains his ultimate aim now as the only Slam he has yet to claim. He’s reached the final here in three of the past four years, twice losing to Rafael Nadal, and once to Stanislav Wawrinka.
That defeat last year was his only clay defeat all season, and he’s been in decent form again this year as he won Madrid and finished runner-up to Andy Murray in Rome last week. A second round exit from Monaco was disappointing to Jiri Vesely, but his record overall on the surface remains strong – in 2016 he has an 89% hold rate, and 27% break rate on clay (combined 116%).
Rafael Nadal (11/2 Betfair) joins Djokovic in the top half of the draw. It’s reasonably likely that the pair will meet in the semi-finals of course given Nadal’s pedigree here and his form this season in winning Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He has lost four times this season – losing to Djokovic in Rome, Murray in Madrid as well as Pablo Cuevas and Dominic Thiem earlier in the season. With defeat to Djokovic in each of their last three clay meetings, we fancy Djokovic to get the better of Nadal should they meet again, so we’ll pass over the prices on Nadal.
Our headline pick however will be ANDY MURRAY, whose game has improved no end on the red dirt over the past few seasons, culminating in a commanding 6-3 6-3 win over Djokovic last week in Rome. That defeat is enough to persuade us that the 10/11 on Djokovic is simply too short given he’ll potentially have to beat both Nadal and Murray, and that moves us onto this week’s value.
Murray was an impressive 17-1 in 2015 on clay – his only defeat coming to Djokovic in the semi-finals here, and while 2016 hasn’t been quite so good, he’s clearly at home on this slower surface these days. He’s been beaten twice this season – once to Nadal in the semi-finals of Monte Carlo, and once to Djokovic in the Madrid Final. He pushed the Serb hard in that one, and also took Nadal to three in Monaco, so he’s showed himself to be hugely competive. Victory in Rome has set him up really nicely for a shot at this year’s title. His hold rate has been 83% and his break rate much higher than Djokovic’s at 38% – combined 121%.
At odds of 9/2 with Sky Bet’s price boost, we reckon he’s the stand out value. His biggest threat in the bottom half looks to be Wawrinka (14/1 Betfair), but defeats to Monaco and Kyrgios recently suggest the Swiss World no. 4 is not really in the best fettle and should be gunned down easily. At 9/2, you are getting 9/4 about a place in the final, and that looks pretty enormous to us. We’ll potentially then be in a position to evaluate our options to hedge come the final all being well.
Kei Nishikori (25/1 Betfair) remains a slight threat of course, so warrants a line or two but the Japanese has struggled to beat the top players throughout his career – he has a 6-16 record v Top 10 players over the past two years for instance, and is just 1-6 on clay on the same metric. Stick with Murray is the advice in this one.
|Andy Murray (ew)||To Win Outright||9/2||Sky Bet|
The ladies draw is once again focused on SERENA WILLIAMS, who is the stand out performer and has been priced at 5/2 with Sky Bet. She dominates the rankings, and has a commanding 13-1 record against players ranked 10-50 on the surface over the past two seasons, so there is relatively little reason to doubt she can go deep into this event – in fact she has lost just one match since 2015 in all competitions and took down Rome without losing a set last week.
We’ll cut straight to the chase, and suggest that at 5/2 looks a great bet. History seems to have played a role in the price available, as she has only won the event three times, and other than those wins in 2002, 2013 and 2015, has done no better than the quarter finals in any other renewal. We prefer the recent form line however, and are backing Serena to win outright.
Her biggest rival in the top half could be the TIMEA BACSINSZKY, who is available at a tempting 11/2 with Betfred to win the 2nd quarter. To do so, she is likely to have to beat Kerber or Keys in the quarter finals, but those should be within her abilities given recent form which saw her reach the quarter finals in Rome (beaten by Muguruza) and the 3rd round in Madrid, where she succumbed to Halep. She has a 9-3 record versus players ranked 10-50 on clay over the past two years, and 4-0 versus 50-100 ranked players. That compares almost precisely with Kerber’s record, and we reckon the younger of the ladies looks worth siding with.
The third quarter looks really competitive, with Garbine Muguruza, Petra Kvitova, Karolina Plishkova, Sveltlana Kuznetsova and IRINA-CAMELIA BEGU among the contenders, and it is the latter – available at 16/1 with BetVictor – who we fancy to reach the semi-finals. The Romanian is enjoying a good season, and is up to 28 in the world, but her best form has come on clay where she ranks 16th.
She’s been playing well, and only losing to the top players – the only ladies to beat her on clay in 2016 have been Kerber, Halep and Williams, so she will be feeling confident. She reached the quarter finals in Madrid and the semis in Rome, so comes into this event in great form. At 16/1 to win the quarter she looks a great alternative to the unproven Muguruza or the experienced Kvitova.
Finally in the bottom part we fancy another upset in the shape of LUCIE SAFAROVA to come out on top, above Halep and Radwanska. Halep has good long term form on clay, but she started 2016 poorly and didn’t really have to beat much to win the Madrid Open, so it’s hard to pay too much respect to that outcome. At 6/4 she looks a bit short to trust for the quarter.
The bookies make Radwanska their favourite to threaten her, and the Pole is back to second in the world now after a long climb back up following her time out. Clay has never been a good surface for her however, and she avoids it like the plague – only once getting past the fourth round in nine attempts. 6/1 looks short based on this pedigree.
Onto Safarova, and last year’s runner-up is a huge 10/1 to reach the semi-finals this year, and that’s a huge surprise given she is the highest ranked player on clay in the section. With an 8-5 winning record over players ranked 10-50, and a 6-1 record against 50-100 she’s a real danger, and the 10/1 looks a great bet.
|Serena Williams||To Win Outright||5/2||Sky Bet|
|Timea Bacsinszky||To Win 2nd Quarter||11/2||Betfred|
|Irina-Camelia Begu||To Win 3rd Quarter||16/1||BetVictor|
|Lucie Safarova||To Win 4th Quarter||10/1||Sky Bet|