French Open Picks: More Than Just Love for Nadal & Djokovic

Nila Amerova

Friday, May 2, 2014 12:10 PM GMT

As the ATP Tour makes steady progress towards Roland Garros, let’s revisit the tennis futures markets to spot any significant moves (if any at all) that have occurred amongst the contenders for the coveted French Open title since the clay-court swing got underway.

Rafael Nadal leads the charge
Eight-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal remains the favourite to retain his title, but his price tag has swelled somewhat dramatically in the last few weeks. When we first took a gander at the French Open betting futures in January, the Spanish stalwart was a robust -150 favourite to win the coveted title. Despite his shocking defeat to David Ferrer at the Monte Carlo Masters, Nadal remained the -150 favourite to win in Paris last week. His subsequent defeat to Nicolas Almagro in Barcelona, a defeat that marked his second straight defeat at a clay court event, which hadn’t occurred in almost a decade, forced a rethink of his odds this week. The result, Nadal is now listed at +100 futures odds to win his beloved grand slam title.

Diehard Nadal fans may view this downgrade as an affront to established sensibilities, but it would be a gross oversight to do so at the expense of the bigger picture; fact is, this is a value price tag on, arguably, one of the best clay court players ever, end of. Sportsbooks may well be guilty of panicking a bit, putting too much stock into his recent results and not giving enough credit to his past results in Paris. No need to jump off his wagon yet.

Beating Nadal in a best-of-five scenario isn’t an easy task, particularly on clay. To date, the only player that accomplished the feat was Robin Soderling, who beat Nadal at the French Open R16 in 2009 – the only time in nine years when he didn’t podium.

Madrid and Rome loom ahead where Nadal is the defending champion at both events. If there were to be a real measure of where his true value lies for the upcoming French Open, it would be in the combined performance at those events.

Which Sportsbooks are offering the best French Open Betting Odds?

Since sportsbooks went to press with French Open futures, Novak Djokovic emerged as the second favourite for the title. He remains so, but has had his odds shortened from +175 to +150 at Bet365 even though he failed to defend his Monty crown a fortnight ago and has lingering injury doubts hanging over him (wrist injury).

Roger Federer beat Djokovic in the Monte Carlo semis and finished runner-up. His odds have definitely improved since the start of the season; he’s now tipped at +1000 to win outright, which is a significant drop from the +1600 price tag he had in January.

Arguably, however, the biggest mover in the French Open market is Stanislas Wawrinka, who underscored his Australian Open victory with his first-ever Masters title in Monte Carlo. The Swiss No.1 is now tipped as the third favourite in the market (quite appropriately usurping Andy Murray from that position) at +600 futures odds.

Speaking of Andy Murray, the Scot is now down to No.8 in the world and down to +2800 in the French Open betting market. In every sense this appears to be the correct estimation as the Scot has yet to reach a clay-court final in his career, let alone challenge for the French Open.

David Ferrer, who beat Rafael Nadal at the Monte Carlo Masters, is in the thick of this mix. And he too has benefited from a rethink – moving from +2500 down to +1800 at Bet365 – largely down to his gauntlet throwing victory. Keep in mind when making your tennis picks that he was the French Open finalist last year.

Free Tennis Picks: Increasingly, the French Open would appear to be a wide-open affair now. Nadal’s dominance over clay has been shaken and Djokovic has injury concerns, which may or may not factor. On the flipside, Federer is enjoying resurgence while ‘Stan the Man’ is redlining his credentials as a viable threat. Finally, Ferrer continues to grind away. It’s anybody’s game right now, but we still maintain that the top tandem of Nadal and Djokovic, both of whom are tough to beat in best-of-five scenarios, are the best tennis picks of the lot.