Is the French Open really Djokovic's to lose as the odds makers would have it? Or is it still Nadal's precious Kingdom and his throne to cede? Find out as we preview the men's draw and serve up our tennis picks.
Live In-Play French Open Picks
Djokovic The Runaway Fave
On the strength of an incredible start to the season, Djokovic emerges as the -120 tennis betting favourite to win the French Open. Yet, there are those tennis bettors of the opinion that Rafael Nadal, the nine-time champion in Paris, deserves to be the favourite regardless of his conspicuous struggles in the lead up to the French Open. After all, he's ruled over Paris for a decade, save for the year Roger Federer (2009) won the title. It's his Kingdom by rights, and until he's beaten in the best-of-five scenario he should remain the favourite. If not, certainly be priced lower than +400 to win outright.
Whichever camp you belong to, the plot has just thickened with the release of the draw and the revelation that these main protagonists on the French Open odds board have fallen into the same quarter. Meaning, they'll clash in the quarterfinals, marking their earliest date at a Grand Slam since 2007 when Djokovic began his ascent up the charts and into the Top 3, where he's remained ever since.
So on to the draw and our tennis betting preview for the highly anticipated French Open.
First Quarter: Djokovic vs. Nadal
In keeping with the overarching French Open odds, Djokovic enters as the firm favourite to win the quarter at -275 tennis odds while Nadal emerges at the second favourite at +225 tennis odds. The Serbian opens his tournament against a wily veteran Jarkko Nieminen, who could make it a tough start. In the second round, a potential clash with big serving Gilles Muller looms. In the third rounds, things could get dicey with either Bernard Tomic or Thanasi Kokkinakis emerging to challenge Djokovic. Both Aussies pack a good punch and have a healthy disrespect for their peers. They won't be intimidated by Djokovic. Assuming Djokovic survives these early rounds, Richard Gasquet could be waiting in the fourth round. The French hopeful will have the crowd behind him and we know how that can irk Djokovic. Another threat in the fourth round could be Kevin Anderson as well, who has beaten Djokovic in the past.
Nadal's corner is ripe with challenges and obstacles, beginning with Alexandr Dolgopolov in the second round. An opponent nobody wants to play this early in the tournament, including Nadal who lost to him last year at Indian Wells. Others in this section that could prove potential stumbling blocks are Adrian Mannarino (French hopeful) , Nicolas Almagro and Jurgen Melzer (one of which would emerge in the third round). In the fourth round, things could get tricky with Grigor Dimitrov waiting, Borna Coric or compatriot Pablo Busta Carreno, amongst others.
To Win Quarter: This is a tough section whichever way you slice it, with plenty of stumbling blocks for both. But if things go to plan, Djokovic and Nadal should emerge in the quarterfinals. It's only fitting. Besides beating either in the best of five isn't easy.
To Win Quarter Pick: Obviously, Djokovic is an excellent tennis pick, but we're going with Nadal at +225 tennis odds. Call is sentimental, if not a little biased.
Second Quarter: Ferrer vs. Murray
This is a good quarter for these two French Open hopefuls. Andy Murray recently established himself as a contender by winning two clay court titles, his first and second ever titles on the red stuff. That's enough to put him as the top favourite to win this quarter at -138 tennis odds. David Ferrer, by contrast, is arguably, one of the best players never to have won a Grand Slam. He did come close when he reached the final in Paris two years ago. He's matched at +250 to win the second quarter.
Ferrer's section includes Lukas Lacko in the first round, a tricky Slovak that could make it a tough opening day for the Spaniard. Victor Troicki looms as a potential second round opponent, while Leonardo Mayer, Jerzy Janowicz or Marin Cilic could emerge in the fourth round.
Murray's path to the quarters includes an opening match against lucky loser Facundo Arguello. He could then face Canadian hopeful Vasek Pospisil or Joao Sousa. The real difficult matchups, however, come in the form of Nick Kyrgios in the third round. The Aussie hopeful is proving to be a legitimate player on the big stage. Others include David Goffin, last year's most improved player, Andreas Seppi and John Isner.
To Win Quarter: This isn't the easiest quarter but then again it's not the hardest either. Murray and Ferrer are good tennis picks to reach the quarters and, in turn, to win it. That said alternative tennis betting options to include on your tennis picks are Nick Kyrgios at +2000
To Win Quarter tennis Pick: Ferrer +250
Third Quarter: Nishikori vs. Berdych
If all goes to plan. tennis bettors will have an excellent matchup to look forward to between Nishikori and Berdych. The Japanese starlet is priced at +125 to win this section while the Czech is priced at +225 tennis odds. Both come up as good tennis picks in our books.
Nishikori's path is riddled with dangerous floaters and clay courters, including Thomaz Bellucci, who is coming off a title win in Geneva this weekend. Then there's Fernando Verdasco in his section as a potential third round opponent. In the fourth round, a whole slew of tough customers could appear from Lukas Rosol and Juan Monaco to Feliciano Lopez and Roberto Bautista Agut.
Berdych's path to the final eight is one of the toughest with a potential date with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the fourth round. Before the pivotal round, he could face compatriot Radek Stepanek in the second round and Fabio Fognini in the third round.
To Win Quarter: The three top tennis picks in this section have to be Nishikori, Berdych and Tsonga, who can be backed at +1400 to win outright. Based on form this season, one has to like Berdych to quietly emerge into the last eight.
To Win Quarter Pick: Berdych +225
Fourth Quarter. Wawrinka vs. Federer
The fourth quarter is flanked by Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka, making it the All Swiss quarter. Federer is dubbed the +100 favourite to win this quarter on the French Open odds board, but Wawrinka emerges a viable second favourite at +225 tennis odds.
Of all the quarters, this is a winnable quarter by either player. Federer is drawn into a section that features veterans such as Ivo Karlovic, Marcos Baghdatis and Mikhail Youzhny and Marcel Granollers, amongst several others. On a good day, none of these players should trouble him at all. Things could get trickier in the third round with up-and-coming Dominic Thiem looming or Sam Groth. In the fourth round, he could face Gael Monfils, which would be the popcorn match for the French public, surely. Monfils is the third favourite at +500 to win this section.
Wawrinka's section looks to be a walk in the park, to be frank. He opens against Marsel Ilhan and then face either Maximo Gonzalez or Dusan Lajovic in the second round. In the third round, veteran Sergiy Stakhovsky, Ernests Gulbis or Guillermo Garcia Lopez could emerge. Finally, in the fourth round, Gilles Simon looms as a potential opponent. The French hopeful is one of the most dogged opponents and he could give France something to cheer about. Frankly, he's the most successful French player on the ATP Tour right now, but he's priced at +2200 to win this section.
To Win Quarter: Obviously, Wawrinka and Federer are the deserved favourites to emerge and should given their favourable draw. IF there were a wrinkle to be had, it could be the emergence of one or both Frenchmen Monfils at +500 or Simon at +2200 in the quarterfinal. Definitely, Simon to beat Wawrinka is a realistic tennis bet. Keep it in mind.
To Win Quarter Tennis Pick: Federer +100