Men’s French Open Picks: Nadal and Murray on Collision Course

Nila Amerova

Wednesday, June 4, 2014 1:38 PM GMT

Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray are on a collision course at the French Open, set to collide in the semi-finals if both emerge victorious on Wednesday. Join us as we preview their quarterfinal matches, complete with tennis free picks for your consideration.

Rafael Nadal -800 vs. David Ferrer +500
Analysis: Rafael Nada, the eight-time champion and defending champion four years in a row, is on course for a fifth straight French Open title, advancing into the last eight on the back of a remorseless 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 victory over Dusan Lajovic in the R16. The victory marked the Spaniard’s fourth straight set victory at the French Open, second victory of his campaign in which he dropped fewer than five games.

Ahead of Roland Garros, Rafael Nadal’s form was suspect. For the first time, he looked vulnerable on his beloved clay. He had lost three times – Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome – more defeats than he’d ever suffered in the lead up to Paris. On top of it all, Rafael Nadal recently admitted his back was still bothering him, an injury sustained at the Australian Open, right before his final with Stanislas Wawrinka.

In spite of it all, Nadal looks every part the King of Clay. He’s cruised into the quarterfinals without so much as dropping a set and just a handful of game – save for his third round match against Leonard Mayer that went 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 and which saw Nadal hurl cupcake serves at 102 mph (165 kmph). And so he enters his quarterfinal clash with David Ferrer as the prohibitive favourite at -800 to win outright.

David Ferrer was one of the three players to beat Nadal during the European clay-court swing this year, upsetting his compatriot at Monte Carlo. He was also the runner-up last year at the French Open. Odds makers however aren’t putting much stock in his chances, tipping him as the +500 underdog to beat Nadal.

The thinking goes, it’s best-of-five on Wednesday. It’s one thing to beat Nadal in best-of-three matches, another to do so in a marathon on his beloved clay. His resume at the French Open alone speaks volumes – where he boasts a 63-1 record and is bidding for a record ninth title.

Still Ferrer is a dogged grinder, a five-set master that can hang with Nadal to the bitter end. The recent victory over Nadal would surely boost his confidence as well; at least allow some belief that it’s possible, even if odds makers aren’t pricing it so. Keep in mind, Nadal is not 100% fit. His back is an issue, which is affecting his serve mainly at the moment. He’s not faced players of Ferrer’s undeniable quality yet, players that would merrily exploit that weakness. So his bid remains unchallenged. You can certainly bet Ferrer will be up for the job, addressing any shortcomings mercilessly. And for that reason, he could force this match the distance, if not win it all together.

Tennis Betting Verdict: To panic or not to panic is the question. Do tennis bettors heed alarmists, those busybodies gleefully scripting Nadal’s obituary at the French Open and back Ferrer at +500 to win outright. Or do they stick to what is known – tried, tested and true facts that point to Nadal as the most likely winner.

If you agree with the busybodies, Ferrer is good of a bet as any to mastermind the upset at +500. To win in four sets or five sets, he looms profitable on your tennis picks at +1400 and +1200, respectively.

If, on the other hand, you are convinced by Nadal’s clay credentials, despite his recent waffles; his ability to will victories even when he’s not 100% fit; and his dominating lifetime head-to-head with Ferrer, then back the Spaniard at -800 to win outright along with a bet on Nadal to win in four or five sets at +250 and +650, respectively.

Tennis Free Picks: Nadal to win in five sets at +650

 

Andy Murray -225 vs. Gael Monfils +175
Analysis: Anything that might have been said about Andy Murray in the past about his clay court prowess should go out of the window, forthwith. The British No.1 is proving to be a marvel on clay this season. Not unlike Sharapova’s complete makeover on the red stuff, Murray is playing some sensational dirt ball these days, almost like a natural clay aficionado. The match he played against Rafael Nadal in Rome was, arguably, one of the best matches of his career on the red stuff. Heck, one of the best, best-of-three matches this season.

Murray has carried his impressive clay form through the first week of the French Open. It’s not been all smooth sailing; he did drop a set against a very talented Andrey Golubev in the first round, and then was taken the distance by Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round before winning 12-10 in the fifth set. However, in the R16, Murray probably played his best match, beating a very capable Fernando Verdasco rather easily.

Next up is Frenchman Gael Monfils, who looms dangerous as a potential stumbling block. Indeed, many expect Monfils, whose game is peaking at the perfect time in his home Grand Slam, to give Murray a run for his money. Hence, the Frenchman’s odds are set delicately on a +175 price tag, against Murray’s fancied odds set on a -225 price tag.

Tennis Betting Verdict: With the tennis betting line set rather close, tennis bettors can correctly assume this match could go either way. Murray’s upped his clay court game, which lends his favourable odds value. He also has the 3-2 edge over Monfils lifetime, and better form and ranking. But Monfils is the home favourite and will certainly have the crowd fully behind him, and that could make things tricky for Murray. At the very least, it’s an intangible that is hard to quantify when handicapping. What’s more, surprisingly, this is the first meeting between the pair since 2010, so it’s debatable how relevant their H2H is going to be in this match.  

Tennis Free Picks: Andy Murray -225 in five sets at +500