Tennis Picks: 2015 French Open is Wide Open & Ripe for Upsets

Nikki Adams

Thursday, February 12, 2015 8:13 PM GMT

Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015 8:13 PM GMT

Is Serena Williams the best bet to win the 2015 French Open? Find out as we preview the 2015 French Open odds and serve up our choice tennis picks for your considerations.

Serena Williams Tops French Open Odds Board
Serena Williams 2015 season is off to a record-breaking start, winning her 19th Grand Slam title Down Under and coming through as the tennis odds makers favourite to win. Before tennis bettors shade Serena Williams on their tennis picks for the upcoming French Open, they should consider several key facts, which are as follows: a) Serena Williams has only won the French Open twice in her career, eleven years apart: 2002 and 2013; b) the last woman to win the Aussie Open and French Open back-to-back was Jennifer Capriati in 2001. Two things that go to show just how hard it is to pull off the double on two distinct surfaces for any women, not least the great Serena Williams herself.

This doesn't mean tennis bettors shouldn't consider Serena on their tennis picks. By all means, shade the American if you so choose to. Just don't be surprised if she doesn't come through on her tennis odds. Speaking of which, her odds alone are a clear indication she's not a lock on your tennis picks. Of all the Grand Slams this year – all of which she leads on the tennis odds board as the top fave  – her +275 odds are the largest by far (in the other three Grand Slams, she opened in the 100-price-point range). Then again, all it could take is a strong clay-court showing in the run up to the French Open and those odds will quickly start to look too big, if not start to shrink all together.

Table 1: Early French Open 2015 Futures

Serena Williams +275

Maria Sharapova +400

Simona Halep +450

Victoria Azarenka +700

Eugenie Bouchard +800

Petra Kvitova +1400

Garbine Muguruza +1600

Caroline Wozniacki +2000

Ana Ivanovic +2200

Agnieszka Radwanska +2500

Sloane Stephens +3300

Andrea Petkovic +3300

Sara Errani +3300

Carla Suarez Navarro +4000

Madison Keys +5000

 

Who Are The Other Reasonable Contenders?
There's the tennis odds across sportsbook platforms that say one thing. Then there's sound reasoning that says another thing entirely. Aside from Serena Williams, the odds makers have singled out nine other ladies as their Top Ten faves for the French Open title (Table 1). The list includes several standout prospects, as well a few "pretenders" that frankly don't offer much value in our opinion. Importantly, there are significant omissions, players that should probably be amongst the top contenders but somehow (some bizarre reason we're not privy to) they didn't made the shortlist. We look at all the tennis odds closely and weigh in with our opinion for each and every single lass.

Maria Sharapova (+400) and Simona Halep (+450) strike an attractive pose on the French Open board. The pair after all featured in last year's final with Sharapova taking the win and clinching her second French Open crown. In fact, Sharapova has reached three straight French Open finals, going 2-1 – her only loss came to Serena Williams in 2013. Talk about the complete and utter reinvention of a player. Sharapova, once the self-dubbed "cow on ice," has emerged the most dominant force in the women's game on her least favourite surface.

Halep's movement and defensive skills are at the crux of her clay court prowess. They are what make her a tempting tickle on your tennis picks. At the Australian Open, she deposited one of her worst accounts at a Grand Slam in recent memory when she lost to Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 6-0 in the quarterfinals. That collapse was pitiable, but the plucky Romanian should learn from that experience and push forward through the season to the French Open in fine form. She's one of few players on the tour that has titles on all surfaces.

Four players that come across rather large in their own right include Victoria Azarenka (+700), Petra Kvitova (+1400), Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska (+2500). The former two are established Grand Slam champions and all surface players while the latter Polish tandem has been knocking on the door for some time. Azarenka looks to be on the way to returning to top form (although she had her coach poached by Eugenie Bouchard); Kvitova has a new fitness regime and looks to be moving better than she ever has; Radwanska has hired Martina Navratilova as a mentor to help her make the belated Grand Slam breakthrough and Carolina Wozniacki's movement and defensive skills are well-suited for clay, which should make her a tough to beat.  Combined, these ladies have a certain level of skill, consistency and quality that would make them value tennis picks in May when the Tours converge in Paris.

Former French Open champion, Ana Ivanovic (+2200), also hovers in the mix of contenders. The Serbian beauty struggled almost immediately after her 2008 French Open win, but she's after a resurgent 2014 season and a return into the Top Ten, which bodes well for her chances. Sara Errani, the 2012 French Open runner-up and Carla Suarez Navarro are quintessential clay-courters that could have a standout tournament. Put it this way, the French Open is probably their best shot at ever winning a Grand Slam, albeit a lot would have to go their way in the draw.

Another player worth paying close attention to is Andrea Petkovic, who reached the French Open semis last year – her best ever Grand Slam result. Replicating that form isn't going to be straightforward, particularly when faced with the pressure of expectation and defending WTA ranking points, but if she enjoys a good clay-court swing, her odds will improve. As well, Garbine Muguruza (+1600) strikes an interesting figure on the French Open odds board, a price tag that is largely underscored by her win over Serena Williams at the 2014 French Open (R64) and backing it all the way to reach the quarterfinals.

On the Men's Court, Is Nadal a Lock to Win his 10th French Open Title?

The Pretenders
The value in Eugenie Bouchard (+800), Sloane Stephens (+3300) and Madison Keys (+5000) is debatable. There's a hint of overreaction in the triplet's tennis odds. For a player that has one WTA career title (Nurnberg) to her name, +800 tennis odds is way too short to be pricing Bouchard on to land the French Open title.  Sloane Stephens had a mostly forgettable 2014 season, which only makes it absurd that she's amongst the Top Ten faves in early French Open futures market. And Madison Keys, riding the coattails of her Australian Open run, has snuck onto the shortlist across most sportsbook platforms. Granted she has Lindsay Davenport in her corner, whose experience and credentials are going to be an asset. But the reality is clay is not her best surface.It remains to be seen whether she can transcend the challenge of a differnet surface, not to mention the weight of newfangled expectations.

 

The Snubs
The most shocking thing to emerge from the 2015 French Open futures market is that odds makers snub Ekaterina Makarova. Not only is the Russian not in the Top Ten, but she's way down the list at (get this) absurd +10000 tennis odds to land the French Open title. The initiated tennis bettor knows Ekaterina Makarova is a solid clay-court player, who won the French Open doubles title with partner Elena Vesnina in 2013. Makarova is also coming off back-to-back Grand Slam semis (2014 US Open and 2015 Australian Open). She's definitely one to spot on your tennis picks, especially at the eye-popping tennis odds.

Others that have been snubbed or seem priced way too large given their merit and clay court prowess and form include Angelique Kerber (+5000), Alize Cornet (+6600), Dominika Cibulkova (+6600), Lucie Safarova (+6600) and Flavia Pennetta (+10000).

 

Tennis Betting Verdict
As it stands, Serena Williams at +275 and Maria Sharapova at +400 are solid tennis picks, the latter of which has become the closest to a dominant force on clay in recent years, which makes her the better choice. In the absence of a true clay-court guru in the women's game, however, the 2015 French Open is wide open.

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