Tennis Picks: WTA French Open Draw

Nila Amerova

Saturday, May 24, 2014 3:29 PM GMT

Serena Williams is the hot favourite and, in turn, the popular tennis pick at the upcoming WTA French Open. But tennis value can also be found in other standout players, who are more than capable of grinding out the victory.  


Serena Williams begins title defence campaign
Serena Williams leads the French Open betting markets as the +120 favourite to win outright, a price tag that is somewhat uncharacteristic where she’s concerned. Typically, she is the prohibitive favourite at a Grand Slam with futures odds on the favourite side of even money. It’s the French Open, however, which is her least successful of the four slams and, perhaps that explains why her odds aren’t higher than +120, or as high as they would be if she were going into any of the other three slams. 

Two French Open titles (2002 and 2013) presents a strange anomaly in her record of 17 titles. Still, she is the defending champion, coming off a big win in Rome. It’s also interesting to note she was priced at +125 futures odds at Bet365 to win the title last year and came through successfully. 
 

Top Half of the draw: Serena, Sharapova and Radwanska
Serena is set to begin her title defence campaign in Paris on Monday against Alize Lim, an unheralded player who hasn’t a prayer, if match-betting markets were any indication. Serena should get her title defence campaign off to a solid start with outrageous -20000 odds on the match win. The next few rounds don’t appear as straightforward though, with up-and coming Gabriela Muguruza potentially looming next, and sister Venus Williams in the third round. While neither player is considered a credible threat to win the title, they could pose tricky obstacles for Serena nonetheless.

Maria Sharapova, tipped as the third favourite to win the French Open title, looms in Serena’s quarter, which for the Russian constitutes the worst possible kind of draw. Sharapova is enjoying brilliant form, recently coming off a win in Madrid. Her record against Serena, however, leaves much to be desired. As such, it’s rather difficult to recommend her on your French Open tennis picks knowing that her path dissects with Serena’s in the quarterfinals, and the improbable win over the American is slim at best. The best-case scenario (one that would enhance Sharapova’s tennis value as the third favourite), would be if Serena somehow drops out before then. Of course, there’s no way of knowing whether that will actually happen, or not, without the benefit of a crystal ball.

Agnieszka Radwanska is also drawn into the top-half of the draw, but odds makers aren’t putting much stock in her chances. She’s listed at rather large +3300 future odds to win outright in the Women's French Open. Her immediate section contains several tricky obstacles, namely Francesca Schiavone, Alize Cornet and Carla Suarez Navarro (+8000) – players that could shake things up in this section.

In the quarterfinals, the Polish No.1 could come up against a whole slew of credible threats, including Flavia Pennetta, Daniela Hantuchova, Maria Kirilenko or Angelique Kerber, to name a few.  Any one of these players or those unmentioned here would fancy her chances against Radwanska. In any event, whoever emerges from the second quarter, more likely, than not, will have to solve the Serena question in the semis. A tall ask, indeed.
 

Bottom half of the draw: Li Na, Halep and Kvitova
For all intents and purposes, the bottom half of the draw looks wide open, and for that reason, many tennis experts feel the value tennis picks are contained here.

Li Na, Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova are three top five seeds who have fallen into this section. In their midst lurk the Serbian tandem of Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic, as well as dangerous floaters Sara Errani, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Ekaterina Makarova and Andrea Petkovic, to name a few.

Halep and Kvitova flank the third quarter and, arguably, their quarter is the tougher of the two in the bottom half, as two former French Open champions are contained within – Ivanovic and Kuznetsova. The former is enjoying brilliant form this season, on the back of which she is poised to potentially break back into the Top 10.

Ivanovic has shown she can beat Serena Williams, doing so this season at the Australian Open. Last week, she also took a set off the American in Rome before losing in three. Ivanovic strikes an attractive + 1600 pose to win the French Open title, making her a tempting outsider to consider for your tennis betting thrills.

Former French Open champion Li Na (+500) and Serbia’s No.1 Jelena Jankovic (+4000) share the fourth quarter, a section that appears to be quite negotiable. Jankovic’s immediate path looks rather unambiguous, so much so one would expect her to get through without too much fuss to the fourth round for a potential clash with Sara Errani (+3300). The Italian finished runner-up in Rome last week and was a finalist in Paris two years ago (l. to Sharapova).

Aside from a potentially tough opening match against France’s Kristina Mladenovic, Li Na’s path to the quarterfinals appears to be straightforward. Andrea Petkovic looms as a potential third round opponent, but the German is still struggling to find her top form and any semblance of consistency. Caroline Wozniacki or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova could emerge in the fourth round, but the former is dealing with personal issues (Golfer Rory McIlroy called off his wedding to the Danish star) while the latter is inconsistent.
 

Free Tennis Picks: When betting on women’s tennis, smart money is invariably on Serena. Call it a practice that is tried, tested and true. Nevertheless, if there were a Grand Slam where Serena is most vulnerable, it would be the French Open. After all, the American has but two titles to her name, which should serves as a helpful reminder that she’s not exactly a lock to win it all. 

Li Na is as good an alternative on your tennis picks at +500 futures odds, as is Sharapova at +600, which would actually be an extremely savvy tennis pick in hindsight, especially if Serena falters in the early rounds. Contenders who are outsiders (but still probable) include Ana Ivanovic at +1600 and Agnieszka Radwanska at +3300.