The odds-on favourite to win outright which is none other than Rafael Nadal, the seven-time champion in Paris. What isn’t the same though is that for the first time, in a long time, his status as the favourite has come under serious threat. Novak Djokovic, who’s vying to win his first-ever French Open title, has made no secret about his intentions at Roland Garros. And if the way in which he dethroned Nadal in Monte Carlo is any indication of that intent, he may very well close the gap on Nadal’s favourable odds in the lead up to Paris, if not usurp him altogether [insert shiver].
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Across all platforms, tennis bettors can find a delicious array of early French Open futures with various angles for profit, the common denominator amongst them: it’s a two-horse race to the title between Rafael Nadal an Novak Djokovic. The question being asked obvious: will Nadal win his beloved French Open yet again or will Djokovic finally dethrone the King of Clay in Paris.
The Nadal-Djokovic Rivalry
William Hill is serving up Nadal as the -110 tennis odds-on favourite to win his eighth French Open title. Nadal comes into the event on solid form having won four titles – Brasil Open, Acapulco, Indian Wells and Barcelona Open. He’s also finished runner-up in Vina del Mar and Monte Carlo.
There is no question about Nadal deserving to be the favourite in the French Open futures market. He’s won the title seven times after all; the only defeat he ever suffered in Paris was in 2009 in the R16 when he lost to Soderling (who went on to a runner-up finish to Federer). But for his odds to hold any value in three weeks, Nadal will have erase the memory of Monte Carlo from the minds of tennis betting enthusiasts by coming up with something special in Madrid and Rome. Otherwise, the value will most certainly lie with Djokovic.
That defeat in Monte Carlo threw a spanner in the works. It’s not that he lost to Djokovic – there is no shame in losing to the player that sits atop the ATP rankings on the back of two impressive seasons, in which he proved almost untouchable and played out-of-this-world tennis. No. It’s the way he lost to the Serbian starlet – by playing flat, flustered and unfocused tennis, something that frankly has never been seen from Nadal on his beloved dirt.
Djokovic’s win in Monte Carlo propelled him in the queue for the rightful, heir apparent to the French Open throne. Now with Madrid and Rome on the horizon, what he accomplishes in both those events will go a long way to underlining the value of his odds on the French Open.
Even now, three weeks before the French Open, Djokovic is the best bet outside of Nadal to win outright. He was a finalist last year and he’s been Nadal’s stiffest opponent on clay over the past two seasons. Lifetime Djokovic trails 15-19 to Nadal, which includes a discouraging 3-12 record on the red dirt against the King of Clay. Having said that Djokovic, since 2011 – his breakout season – has improved to 3-3 against Nadal on clay.
The curious case of Murray and Federer
After Nadal and Djokovic, the odds spike up significantly. Andy Murray rings in as the third-favourite at +1400 followed by Roger Federer as the fourth favourite at +1600 at William Hill and after which things get out of hand a bit. Juan Martin Del Potro is listed at +2000 and David Ferrer at +2500, and then, the odds really take off into the stratosphere with Tomas Berdych at +5000, Jo Wilfried Tsonga at +6600 and Nicolas Almagro at +10000 and, well you get the picture....
To return to Murray and Federer for a moment: it’s rather curious that Murray is tipped ahead of Federer in the tennis betting markets. Almost mind-boggling really because Murray has yet to reach a clay-court final, let alone win a title as prestigious as the French Open is. Throw in a talented clay-courter like Stanislas Wawrinka, Nicolas Almagro or Richard Gasquet into his draw, and he’ll be hard pressed to advance.
Federer has won the French Open title and several other clay court titles of note as well. Let’s not forget, he’s even beaten Nadal on clay on several occasions, albeit some time ago now and never at the French Open despite several attempts.
What’s holding Federer back in the market is his questionable form this season. He has yet to reach a final, let alone win a title. The betting public therefore will have to wait until the back-to-back Madrid and Rome Masters are done and dusted to better assess his chances of putting forward a title winning run in Paris. But jumping on his odds right now would be a cunning move. Think about it: how many times has Federer been priced out of the market so? Not too often. Of course, this could be a sign of the times – he’s getting up there after all and only has a few good years left in his career. But If Federer can put together a standout warm-up campaign in Madrid and Rome, his odds will definitely shorten significantly so getting in on his basement bargain odds of +1400 would be quite the scoop for our tennis picks.
Tennis Betting Verdict
As things currently stand in the men’s game, the best bets to win the French Open are either Nadal or Djokovic. It’s almost a 50-50 split between the pair in the minds of bettors. The next fortnight will be revealing. Arguably, it’s down to Nadal and how well he fights for domination of his turf. If he allows Djokovic even a slice of that turf, the changing of the guard that has been long waiting to happen in the wings will finally have its moment on centre stage.