Rafael Nadal has won nine French Open men’s singles titles and his Roland Garros record reads 66 wins and one loss so is there a value argument for backing him at odds of +333 with Coral to win yet another Grand Slam prize in Paris?
One would have to say no, there is not. Nadal has won only one of the six clay men’s singles tournaments that he has entered so far in 2015, with his solitary title success on the red stuff occurring in the Argentina Open when he did not run into an opponent ranked higher than 60th.
Yes, one could argue that Nadal started in the 2014 French Open men’s singles having not set the world alight in his first five clay events of the year – he had won two titles (one on a retirement) and made two other finals – but one suspects that the Spaniard is, finally, on the way down.
Nadal and the world number one, Novak Djokovic, have met 19 times on clay during their professional careers. Nadal leads Djokovic 14-5 on clay in men’s singles encounters but their ledger on the red stuff is 5-5 in the 2010s and, in recent years, the Serbian has had the upper hand over the Spaniard. Djokovic has won two of his last three clay matches against Nadal and, importantly, the latest clash between the giants of men’s singles resulted in a record win for the Serbian – Djokovic won 6-3 6-3 in the Monte Carlo Masters semi-finals, losing the fewest number of games to Nadal in their series.
The days of Nadal’s opponents thinking that he was close to unbeatable on clay are gone – Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka have defeated the Spaniard on the red stuff in 2015 and Fabio Fognini, who is one of the most inconsistent men’s singles players, has taken down Rafa not once but twice.
Murray is improving on clay and married life appears to be agreeing with him but the red stuff is his worst surface as his French Open men’s singles record shows – he has made the semi-finals twice in seven starts. Murray does not excite one as a French Open men’s singles betting proposition.
The same goes for Kei Nishikori, who has made it to the last four only once in 22 Grand Slam men’s singles appearances and who has a 56 per cent win rate in French Open matches.
If one cannot make a good French Open men’s singles case for Nadal at odds against then one has to back Djokovic at odds on to end his lengthy wait for glory at Roland Garros.
It was Nadal who stopped Djokovic in his French Open men’s singles tracks in each of the last three years, including their epic five-set match in 2013 that the Spaniard won 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-7 9-7. One thinks that Djokovic has the number of Nadal this year and, unlike Murray et al, one cannot say that the Serbian has come up short in the French Open men’s singles because he is uncomfortable on clay. Djokovic has dropped just four sets in winning all 10 of his men’s singles matches on the red stuff during this year.
Bwin is offering odds of -118 that Djokovic wins the French Open men’s singles and joins Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer and Nadal as a career Grand Slam winner. That seems like a fair bet.
The French Open men’s singles draw will take place on Friday and one is not unduly concerned as to where Nadal ends up – he is seeded outside the top four so Djokovic could run into him before the semi-finals. One expects that Djokovic will have to beat Nadal somewhere along the way to win the French Open men’s singles and, if the Serbian and the Spaniard end up being drawn to meet before the final, it may result in some bookmakers pushing out their odds about the favourite, which one thinks would not make a great deal of sense.
Serena Williams is the French Open women’s singles favourite but the world number one has won only two times in her 13 visits to Roland Garros and twice in the last three years she did not make it further than the second round. Indeed, Williams has featured in just two French Open women’s singles finals – there are better times to back her.
In all honesty, the French Open women’s singles is one of those betting heats that is easy to swerve. Williams could win the French Open women’s singles with her eyes shut but there is insufficient data to support backing her, Maria Sharapova is far too prone to awful sets for one’s liking, Simona Halep has made one Grand Slam final appearance and then there is the most dangerous floater in either singles draw, Victoria Azarenka, who is ranked falsely at 27.
Djokovic to win the French Open
Where to Bet: Bwin
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