French Open Picks: Serena Williams & Li Na to Lead Women

Nila Amerova

Monday, May 5, 2014 8:10 PM GMT

Now that the clay court swing is well and truly underway let’s take a look at the WTA French Open betting market and spot some of the changes (if any at all) since sportsbooks went to press with early French Open futures odds.

Top Tennis Picks: Serena Williams
When we took a look at the French Open landscape back in January, Serena Williams had the market cornered on + 138 futures odds. That outlook hasn’t changed. She’s still considered the favourite. Even more so now as she’s matched on +125 futures odds at Bet365 with the highly anticipated grand slam fast approaching.

Serena Williams is the defending champion, not to mention a grand slam champion many times over. Arguably, one of the best players ever to grace the women’s game her WTA credentials demand a conspicuous bias towards her. Simply put, expectation of her winning is de rigueur.

But Serena’s form this season leaves much to be desired by her lofty standards. Although she won in Brisbane to start the season, she fell to Ana Ivanovic in the Australian Open R16 and Alize Cornet in the Dubai semis. She bounced back in Miami beating Oz champion Li Na 7-5, 6-1. But immediately afterwards fell to Jana Cepelova in the first round of Charleston, a traditional stop on her clay-court warm-up schedule.

If there is anybody that can render such aberrations a moot point it’s Serena Williams. Her output in both Madrid and Rome in the coming weeks will certainly be telling and will determine what her true chances of winning the French Open for a second straight year really are. Keep in mind, the French Open has been her least successful grand slam.

Review our Tennis Betting Predictions for the Mens Action

The case for Azarenka, Li Na and Sharapova
The usual suspects round out the top favourites for the French Open: Victoria Azarenka +550, Li Na +600 and Maria Sharapova +700.

Of this triplet, the latter two are former champions – Li Na won this event in 2011 while Sharapova won the event in 2012. By virtue of their past success in Paris as well as their multiple grand slam titles they are worthy contenders for the title. Li Na, though, perhaps the best of this pair as she’s enjoying a standout season with an Australian Open title and a runner-up finish in Miami, to name a few. What’s more, if she retains her No.2 ranking going into the French Open she’ll be opposite Serena Williams in the draw, which is always the best place to be.

Only Victoria Azarenka rings in as a bit of a false favourite – not because she isn’t a worthy contender on the major stage – she has a couple Oz titles to her credit, after all – but because of all the surfaces, clay is her least favourite surface. What’s more, the Belarusian starlet is reportedly giving both Madrid and Rome a skip, two premier events in the lead up to the French Open, putting into question the viability of her French Open bid altogether.


The Outsiders
Simona Halep leads the charge of the outsiders in the French Open betting markets at +1200 to win outright. Unquestionably, the Romanian is playing some of the best tennis of her career and clay is one of her best surfaces. But she’s yet to win a noteworthy title. Expecting her to all of a sudden pull a rabbit out of the hat such as winning the French Open would be is a bit of a stretch. Whiff of wishful thinking. That said there is an argument to be made about her ability to shake up the draw and, as such, we’d recommend a bet on her to win her quarter for instance.

Agnieszka Radwanska is a great selection in the outside market at +2500 tennis odds. She’s been knocking on the grand slam door for some time now, prompting the notion that something has to give her way eventually. But past failures have taken the shine off her as a credible threat and, in turn, her futures betting odds. Lacklustre defeats such as her 6-1, 6-2 defeat to Dominika Cibulkova at the Australian Open semis spring to mind. But then there is that memorable final she played with Serena Williams at Wimbledon in 2012 when she gave the American a serious run for her money before losing 1-6, 7-5, 2-6.

Speaking of Dominka Cibulkova, the Slovak is listed at rather large +3300 tennis odds to win outright. As taken as the tennis betting world is with the diminutive Slovak, clearly odds makers aren’t putting much stock in her abilities at the moment. The same can be said for the inconsistent Petra Kvitova and Ana Ivanovic, both of whom are former grand slam champions and matched at +2800.


Tennis Betting Verdict:
For the time being, our original recommendation remains unchanged and unless both Madrid and Rome (or one or the other) yield some shock results that would force a rethink, our recommended tennis picks probably will stay the same.  That is, Serena Williams or Li Na are the best tennis picks of the lot.