All roads lead to Paris
The accepted opinion in the marketplace is: only two players have a real shot at winning the coveted French Open title – Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. It follows that this very same pair should be singled out in Madrid and when the Madrid futures market is an almost mirror reflection of the French Open futures market, what accounts they deposit in Spain’s capital will have far reaching consequences towards how those tennis odds will shape down the road.
Also take a look at my predictions & early odds for the French Open.
Nadal the favourite to win Madrid
Rafael Nadal is listed as the odds-on favourite to win the Madrid Open at 11/10 with Ladbrokes and underlining his price tag is a rather good-looking draw, especially since Federer (and not Djokovic) is on the opposite end of the half. You see Nadal is Federer’s kryptonite. Nadal boasts an impressive 19-10 head-to-head over the maestro; he’s won six of their last ten encounters and all three on clay since his last defeat at the hands of Federer on the red stuff which, ironically, happened in the 2009 Madrid Open final. Thus, in a potential semi-final showdown between the pair, Nadal would be strongly favoured to advance.
Nadal will open his campaign against either Benoit Paire or Joao Soaza in the second round on Wednesday and if you are after wondering what either of these players’ chances are against Spain’s prodigal son, you’d need only take a gander at the match betting market to get an idea of how impossible of a task it is deemed to be to beat Nadal on his beloved dirt.
In the R16, Nadal’s opponents could be one of the following: Nicolas Almagro, Mikhail Youzhny or Fabio Fognini. Nadal owns Almagro 10-0 lifetime and leads Youzhny 9-4, which includes two blowout wins on clay. Fognini is a different story however as he’s never played Nadal. The 25-year-old Italian has clay-court chops so he could make it an interesting match – one would hope he plays better than he did against Djokovic in the Monte Carlo semis a few weeks ago – but to beat Nadal would be a long shot selection for your tennis picks.
The quarterfinals would get interesting if he comes up against David Ferrer, the real time No.1 Spaniard in the ATP. Ferrer beat Nadal only once on clay in his career (way back in 2004) but since has lost 14 meetings on clay (overall he trails 4-17 to Nadal), so it would be quite the statement if he could pull off the upset. Ferrer is listed at a tempting 25/1 at Ladbrokes to win the tournament. Of course, this assumes Ferrer will emerge into the quarters. Other possible quarterfinalists would be Denis Istomin, Tommy Haas (80/1), Andreas Seppi (150/1), Marcos Baghdatis or Tommy Robredo.
Popular opinion has Roger Federer, who is listed at an attractive 10/1 to defend his Madrid Open title successfully, reaching the semis. Given his quarter appears to be a cakewalk – the biggest threat looming not until the quarterfinals in Richard Gasquet, tipped at a whopping 66/1 to win outright – one might just as well ink Federer into the semi-final slot right away. Other so-called threats in his section, to name a few, are John Isner (150/1) and Kei Nishikori (125/1) – as you can see, all are priced out of the Madrid Open market.
Can anybody stop Djokovic?
In winning Monte Carlo Djokovic threw down the gauntlet, announcing his intentions for the rest of the clay-court swing. The sportsbooks have taken note, dropping his odds dramatically for the French Open but not to the extent that would make him the outright favourite. That right still belongs to Nadal. Beating Nadal in a best-of-three match is one thing. It’s another to beat Nadal in a best-of-five scenario. To date only Robin Soderling accomplished the feat at the French Open.
Still, Djokovic set himself up rather well for Madrid where he is listed at 11/8 to win outright at Ladbrokes. The way he’s playing is freaky, no other way around it. Put anybody in his draw and he’s as sure as a bet on paper can be to win. It’s as if he doesn’t know how to lose. The upshot: he’s smart money.
Speaking of his draw, he does have some serious challengers to contend with, such as Stanislas Wawrinka (66/1) who could emerge as a potential R16 opponent and either Milos Raonic (66/1) or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (50/1) in the quarters. But when he repeatedly makes a mockery of their value as “serious challengers,” it becomes tedious contemplating. Of the aforementioned, Wawrinka would have the best shot to beat Djokovic because of his clay skills, but don’t go betting the farm on it.
In the semis, he could come up against Andy Murray (16/1), Tomas Berdych (33/1), Gilles Simon (150/1) or long shot Jerzy Janowicz (200/1). In all situations though Djokovic should come up trumps.
Tennis Betting Verdict: The market casting suggests strongly that we are headed for another Nadal-Djokovic showdown in the final, a casting call that is supported by recent trends in the game, which show this rivalry featuring prominently in the clay-court swing since the 2011 Madrid Open final and spanning six meetings split evenly. The consensus: bets on either Nadal or Djokovic hold the most value. Any other bet is as senseless as throwing water into the ocean. Not until (if at all) one or the other is dumped unceremoniously in the early rounds, can we rehash the market on the tournament.
Tennis Free Picks: Nadal to defeat Djokovic in the final