Serena Williams draws lucky
Serena Williams must be doing a jig right now as she thanks her lucky stars. Not that the American needed any help from the draw; it’s the trimmest and fittest Serena Williams we’ve seen in some time that arrives in Paris, flush of three straight titles in Charleston, Madrid and Rome and brimming with confidence. Nonetheless, the tennis gods smiled down on her, delivering Victoria Azarenka and Li Na – two of the other short-odds-on favourites to win the title – into Maria Sharapova’s half and sending threats such as Sara Errani, Angelique Kerber and Agnieszka Radwanska into her half.
Interesting to note, since the draw came out, Serena Williams’ odds moved up, over even money to -110 from where they were just a few days ago at +125. Clearly, bookies like her chances now even more so than before – kudos to those that jumped on her earlier tennis odds.
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Serena Williams’ quarter: Now it’s not all great news and champagne bubbles for Serena. Not just yet. Her draw might be devoid of some of the favourites for the title but it isn’t devoid of threats entirely, though the early rounds are straightforward enough. The R16 with big hitting Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova could be tricky and the quarterfinals with lefties in Laura Robson and Ekaterina Makarova or top-ten threat Angelique Kerber (+3300 at William Hill) or former French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova (+6600), the last three of which have beaten Serena Williams in the past, even trickier. If an upset were to happen, it would come in these early rounds surely. Kerber has the best shot on paper, she trails 1-2 lifetime against Serena, which includes a 1-1 record on 2012.
Radwanska’s quarter: With the world No. 4 Radwanska (listed at betting odds of +3300) and World No.5 Errani in the same quarter, it’s a tossup between them as far as whose quarter it really is. Based purely on form it’s Errani’s quarter and, by the same token, she’s the best bet to emerge into the quarterfinals, if not the semis – she’s trading at +2200 to win it all at William Hill. Having said that the section is latent with depth and talent and as such anything could happen. The pressure to replicate the runner-up finish of last year and go one better might be all too much for the Italian. And with Venus Williams (+10,000), Ana Ivanovic (+6600), Sabine Lisicki and Nadia Petrova all lurking, to name a few, this quarter could deliver a surprise.
Azarenka’s quarter: Although Li Na (+1000 to win it all) book ends the other side of this quarter it otherwise leaves something to be desired. Granted, some solid French threats are contained within. Marion Bartoli (+10000) and Alize Cornet theoretically could make a decent run of it. As well, good clay-courters like Maria Kirilenko (+15,000), former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone (+6600) and lesser known Lucie Hradecka could take advantage. But this section really should deliver a Li Na and Victoria Azarenka (+700 tennis betting odds at William Hill) showdown in the quarterfinals, what should be the marquee matchup in this section and a rematch of the Australian Open final that more than a few tennis enthusiasts would love to see go the way of the veteran Li Na. A bit of revenge for the heartbreaking Aussie defeat.
Sharapova’s quarter: Of the entire women’s draw, this section is one of the toughest – if not the toughest. Big hitters such as Sloane Stephens, Tamira Paszek, Petra Kvitova (+2500) and Samantha Stosur (+2000 at William Hill) are all packed in tightly along with solid clay-courters in Jelena Jankovic and Dominika Cibulkova (+10000) and veteran Daniela Hantuchova interspersed in their midst. This section could deliver several surprises in the earlier rounds, never mind waiting for the quarterfinals. FYI: Sharapova’s odds have increased from +350 to +400 over the last few days at William Hill.
Tennis Betting Verdict: Undoubtedly, Serena Williams is the best bet to win the French Open and not just on paper. She’s known to front up for big events and play some of her best tennis when it matters the most. Seen it all too often. Sure, Sloane Stephens beat Serena in the Aussie quarters. All that did though was to shake her up and make her take notice; she won’t be so remiss this time around. So go ahead and bank on her if you are so inclined.
For those looking for that major upset, if it’s going to come and have Serena’s name all over it, it’s going to come from an established player such as Kerber or a former great such as Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals or not until the final and only if she faces against a strong competitor that has beaten her before such as Azarenka (+700), Stosur or Li Na (+1000). The value play would be Li Na, obviously. Not just because her odds are tempting but also because she’s won the French Open before and her draw is relatively good and her form is encouraging. Moreover if she faces Azarenka in the quarters, she has a score to settle there – something that if she pulls off successfully could propel her all the way into the final. So on that note, here are the (perhaps outlandish) tennis picks for your consideration.Tennis Free Picks: Serena Williams over Sara Errani and Li Na over Samantha Stosur in the semis; Li Na over Williams in the final