Rafael Nadal is set to begin his bid for an incredible eighth French Open title in just a few days and although tennis odds makers have installed him as the runaway favourite to do just that it’s certainly not a foregone conclusion. Not now that we know Nadal and Djokovic are in the same half of the draw.
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Nadal and Djokovic on collision course in the semi-finals
What Nadal and Djokovic falling into the same half of the draw means is a very real possibility that a new French Open champion ... ehemDjokovicehem ... could emerge when the dust finally settles in Paris. Certainly, Djokovic is the next best priced to win it all at +200 with William Hill after Nadal at -138. What it also means is that the bottom half of the draw is now wide open. Sure, Federer is a strong favourite to emerge – although you’d not think it straightaway with his +1000 price tag – and Ferrer is the next best option at +1600. But the opportunity has been laid bare for players such as Tomas Berdych (+2500) and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (+6600), to name a few. It remains to be seen whether either or some other “unexpected” protagonist will rise to the occasion.
On a purely tennis level (and a somewhat selfish standpoint), what it means for the tournament is it will be (fist-shaking-at-the-tennis-gods) cheated from a final matchup that might have been worthy of the 2012 Aussie final between these two best players in the world right now.
When the biggest threat in your quarter is Janko Tipsarevic (whopping betting odds of +20000 at William Hill) you know the tennis gods have smiled down on you. Certainly, Djokovic wouldn’t mind a duel with his compatriot. Beats facing an in-from Tommy Haas (+15,000) any day. However, it remains to be seen Tipsarevic will actually make it that far (rather unlikely) as he’s not been enjoying good form lately.
This doesn’t mean that Djokovic’s is going to be able to sleepwalk into the quarters. No, Djokovic is on course for a possible third round clash against Grigor Dimitrov (remember him from Madrid?) and a possible fourth round clash against Bernard Tomic, who beat him at season-starting warm-up event, Hopman Cup. Having said that Djokovic always brings his best when it matters the most. He’s not dropped out of a Grand Slam before the semi-finals since his bizarre defeat to Jurgen Melzer at the 2010 French Open quarterfinals. So an upset by Dimitrov (and he has cramping issues) or Tomic (who has other issues that we needn’t go into) or somebody else seems highly improbable.
While falling into Djokovic’s half may seem like bad news to Nadal’s camp and his fans alike, his quarter on the other hand appears “on paper” to be a traipse through the park. His biggest threats are Richard Gasquet (+10000) and Stanislas Wawrinka (+6600) and, better yet, he’ll only have to face one or the other and not until the quarters.
As to the “imminent danger” of Lukas Rosol or Fabio Fognini (potential third round matchups) and Kei Nishikori (+20,000) in the ensuing round, they loom about as threatening as cupcakes. Nadal shouldn’t be troubled by any of them, or any other player contained in his section for that matter.
Federer and Ferrer headline bottom half of the draw
The tennis gods smiled upon Federer and Ferrer, bestowing upon them a draw sans Nadal and Djokovic. But it’s not all happy news for this pair. Berdych and Tsonga have been thrown into their mixer as well and what may potentially have been divinely intended a reward for Fed-Fer, could actually be reaped by them instead. Gone (for now) are the days when it used to be that a draw that contained Berdych or Tsonga was considered a good draw; so inconsistent and unconvincing were they then, particularly, with both coming into the French Open in good shape and on form.
He has straightforward early matchups that shouldn’t rattle his cage much and allow him to do what he does best, quietly grunt and grind his way into the quarterfinals. A possible challenge could come from either Marcel Granollers or Feliciano Lopez in the third round and from Milos Raonic, Xavier Malisse or Kevin Anderson in the fourth round, but best-of-five set scenarios are Ferrer’s forte. No, his biggest threat is Tomas Berdych. The Czech is playing some of the best tennis of his career and although he has some tough early matchups against Gael Monfils and potentially Ernests Gulbis, most fancy the Czech to emerge into the quarters and even wrestle that semi-final spot from Ferrer.
Of the four quarters, Federer has been dealt the easiest. Well, at least as far as the early round go with a bunch of qualifiers set to step up. The third and fourth round could be tricky if Frenchmen Julien Benneteau and Gilles Simon (+20000) emerge respectively. They both have had success against Federer in the past. The biggest French threat of course being Tsonga, who is slated for a potential quarterfinal showdown and is the talking point of his quarter.
Tennis Betting Verdict:
The top half of the draw should go according to plan, delivering the Nadal-Djokovic showdown. Value is to be had on both sides of that coin but form and record at the French Open tips the balance towards Nadal. The bottom half is up for grabs. Sentimentalists will like Federer’s chances to reach the final and perhaps even win it. But more likely than not we should have upsets before then.
Free Tennis Picks: Nadal over Djokovic and Tsonga over Berdych in the semi finals. Then, Nadal over Tsonga in the final at Bet 365.