There are a lot of changes this year at Roland Garros, played for the first time in Autumn under a roof with no crowds and new Wilson balls. Will it still be business as usual for the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal, or will we see more drama in what has been a wholly unpredictable 2020? Join me as I analyse the draw in Paris and offer my best futures picks and predictions for Sportsbook Review!
Trends and Conditions
The 2020 French Open will be the 124th edition of the event and for the first time it will be the last slam of the season. As ever, it will be played at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris, France, but there are several notable changes in 2020. First and foremost, this is the first time we have seen the French played in Autumn and conditions look set to be rainy for the whole event.
This will surely lead to even slower and heavier conditions than usual, and the French is already one of the slowest events on tour. Second, the Babolat balls have been replaced by Wilson and both Nadal and Thiem have commented on how much they preferred the Babolats. Apparently, the balls feel heavier and Rafa even claimed they may lead to elbow injuries.
The French is generally the least interesting major from a betting perspective, but perhaps these factors could lead to a more competitive week in Paris. The question is: who can take advantage?
Djokovic is the high seed in the top quarter alongside Berrettini, Bautista, Khachanov, Garin, Carreno, Hurkacz and Struff.
Novak was clearly intent on making a point in Rome after his embarrassing default from the US Open, and indeed he won in fine fashion in the end despite struggling at points in his last few matches. That preparation should set him up fairly well for the French and he couldn’t be much happier with the draw.
Nadal and Thiem are in the same half while his biggest threat in the top quarter is Matteo Berrettini, who doesn’t feel much of a threat. Tsitsipas could well give him a good match in the semis but that is as bad as it gets for Djokovic.
Bautista is poor in slow conditions and looks unbackable despite his strong record against Novak. Carreno is similar with the flat game style simply sub optimal in these conditions. Hurkacz doesn’t have the consistency to win at slam level on clay, in my opinion, which is also likely true of Khachanov, Struff and Berrettini.
Noone in this quarter really looks up to much at the prices with the possible exception of Garin, who has class, talent and the right game style for conditions, but the young Chilean is playing the Hamburg semi final at the time of writing and has won just 1 match from 5 attempts at the French Open.
It is very hard to find players who have the consistency for best of 5 set clay tennis and to be perfectly honest, I think the -250 (1.4) about Djokovic coming through could well end up looking like a decent price. I’m happy to steer clear of this quarter.
Medvedev is the high seed in the second quarter alongside Tsitsipas, Shapovalov, Rublev, Dimitrov, Krajinovic, Lajovic and Basilashvili.
Djokovic, Nadal and Thiem will most likely win their quarters on best form – the second quarter is the only one without a clear favourite and easily the most competitive and interesting part of the draw from a betting perspective.
Tsitsipas looks to have played himself into form in Hamburg after a dismal start to his clay campaign and seems a rightful favourite for the quarter. Rublev is into the final of Hamburg where he will most likely face Tsitsipas and that match may end up being a precursor to Paris as the pair could meet in the quarter final.
Shapovalov was strong in Rome before losing a tight one to Schwartzman, and Krajinovic and Lajovic have also played well in recent matches. Medvedev looked poor in Hamburg, losing in the first round to Humbert, while Basilashvili has no form to speak of at the minute and Dimitrov, as usual, has his chances but will probably be underwhelming.
Lots of players in with chances and my favourite angle is perhaps to take a chance that Medvedev will once again underwhelm on clay. The most obvious player to take advantage is his section of the quarter is Rublev, who has an excellent 33-17 record and 24% ROI so far in slams.
He has a 22% ROI over his last 50 matches on clay and a superb 5-5 record against the top 20 on clay for a 59% ROI so we know he can beat the best on his day. He beat Tsitsipas in 4 sets at the US Open last year priced +150 (2.5) and while he has a poor record against Medvedev, the clay is a key difference with all 4 of those matches being played on hard courts. If he can bring some of his form from Hamburg into Paris, he’ll have every chance in this quarter and he is my first pick for this quarter at +600 (7) with Intertops sportsbook.
Take a Chance on Longshot Djere
The second player I’m willing to take a chance on may surpriser readers but I definitely think the price offers value. The player in question is Laslo Djere who is on offer at a whopping +15000 (151) at Intertops sportsbook.
I’ll say straight away here that Djere is an unlikely winner, but the price is simply too big. Djere doesn’t have much experience of going deep in slams and he can be quite hot and cold, which is why we are getting such a big price. However, Djere has the clay pedigree to do some damage this week and after a strong run to the semi final of Kitzbuhel he should feel good about his game coming into this week.
Djere won his maiden main level final in Rio last year in what was a stunning week of tennis. The Serb defeated Dominic Thiem 6-3 6-3 in his opening match and has since netted a reasonable 4-7 record against the top 20 on clay for a 23% ROI.
More impressively, Djere has won 46% of his last 50 matches priced +100 (2) to +500 (6) on clay for a 25% ROI. His game shouldn’t be hampered by the slower, damp conditions and he is well positioned to take advantage if Medvedev falters.
Lots of question marks as always with a longshot but I can’t have him at even close to +15000 (151) so I’ll happily have a small bet and he is my second selection for the quarter.
Thiem is the high seed in the third quarter alongside Monfils, Schwartzman, Wawrinka, Auger-Aliassime, Ruud, Fritz and Coric.
The bottom two quarters are perhaps the trickiest to gauge given the unique conditions. It may be that even if Nadal and Thiem aren’t happy with conditions and the new balls, they are still a class above the rest and play themselves into form, improving match by match. In that case, the price of -125 (1.8) on Thiem on Intertops for quarter 3 may look like a steal, though it must be said he has a tough set of matches, with Cilic a particularly brutal first round.
Alternatively, it may be that the changes have a big impact and finally lead to a dethroning of the King of Clay and perhaps his protégé, Thiem, as well. It is very hard to say – the trends firmly suggest otherwise, but how relevant are they in 2020?
The other key point is that there is a clear lack of good options in this bottom half. Monfils, Wawrinka and Fritz have been poor on comeback, while Schwartzman rarely does his best work on slow clay (despite his recent win over Rafa), and Coric is very hard to win with at this level. Ruud is the obvious form pick but he looked to be struggling physically in the Hamburg semi-final, having an MTO for his shoulder, and the turnaround for the French is surely too quick after back to back deep runs in Rome and Hamburg. Auger-Aliassime hasn’t yet shown enough class to compete in best of 5 tennis and isn’t an exciting price anyway, so we’re left with a somewhat bland soup of a player pool.
Thiem is rarely good to oppose on clay and my instinct is he’ll probably struggle a bit to adjust, but ultimately play himself into form over the first week. I am more than happy to leave this quarter alone all things considered.
Nadal is the high seed in the bottom quarter alongside Zverev, Goffin, Fognini, Isner, De Minaur, Paire and Evans.
Again, this is a quarter which will largely be decided by how much the changes bother Rafa. He has long been known for his OCD tendencies on court and it may well be that the changes disturb the usually unflappable master of the red dirt.
Probably not, though, and again my instinct is that he may struggle a little, but will surely play himself into form over the first week given the lack of viable competition. His biggest threat in his section of the quarter is Fognini, who will surely not have the physical ability to win against Rafa over best of 5 after his recent ankle surgery. His form has been poor regardless and the only player in with a shout is Zverev.
Zverev tends to do his best work in quicker conditions, however, and has a poor record at the French. Not to mention, he may have quite the comedown after his heart wrenching loss to Thiem in the final of the US Open, plus Zverev has a dreadful record in slams generally.
Again, this is not a quarter where anyone looks likely to push the top seed, so I’ll steer clear.
The French Open is rarely a good betting heat, but it may be different this year given the changes and general uncertainty that has pervaded 2020. While I have a strong sense that Rafa and Thiem will be more vulnerable than usual, it is very hard to see who will challenge them in the bottom half.
The only angle that makes sense to me is to take on the +120 (2.2) about Nadal winning the event directly. The main player that I could see taking this away from Rafa even on decebt form is Djokovic, whose price of +210 (3.1) with Intertops sportsbook seems generous given the draw and changes this year.
Djokovic is close to Rafa even on good form, and with the fine margins in the men’s game it may be that Nadal’s lack of match play alongside the changes in Paris this year are enough to tip the scales in his favour. It would not be a huge surprise if Thiem beat Rafa either, and while Tsitsipas has the weapons to given Djokovic a great match, I still think it is highly likely that the best of 5 format will heavily favour Novak and he’ll make the final.
It looks the most sensible way to take on Nadal since even if Rafa comes through, I would still expect a high quality final in which conditions will at least level the playing field more than usual. All things considered, Djokovic to win at +210 (3.1) with Intertops sportsbook is my final selection for the 2020 men’s French Open.
Tennis Pick: Novak Djokovic to win at +210 (3.1) with BetOnline