No major tournament has a wider divergence from a wagering standpoint than the French Open. One side is wide open, the other is straight chalk. Let's consider some of the many possible plays as the tournament nears.
Iga Swiatek (+300): There hasn't been a repeat winner on the women's side of the French Open since Justine Henin won three times from 2005 to 2007. Iga Swiatek could change that this year. The defending champion just won on clay in Italy. More to the point, she won in absolutely magnificent fashion, defeating Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 6-0. That's the kind of finish that will carry you a long way into your next tournament.
Ashleigh Barty (+550): The women's bracket is completely wide-open, with any of a dozen players capable of stepping up and seizing control of the tournament. Barty won the French Open in 2019 but opted out in 2020. She's had strong performances this season on clay, reaching the finals in Madrid and winning in Stuttgart. But she retired from her match against Coco Gauff in Italy earlier this month when a chronic arm injury flared up, so proceed with caution.
Serena Williams (+2000): At this point in her career, Serena Williams is not unlike Tiger Woods, artificially low odds to protect against the casual bettors. Williams has played only three times on clay since last year's French Open, losing twice in straight sets. She may well have one more Tiger-esque run in her, but it's not trending that way now.
Petra Kvitova (+2200): The legendary Kvitova, who has won tournaments in three decades, has reached the semifinals twice at the French Open, including last year. She's a long shot, but she's also reached the quarterfinals of two events on clay this year. Bad sign: in Rome, she lost to an opponent outside the top 100 for the first time in more than three years.
Rafael Nadal (-120): Betting against Nadal at Roland Garros is like betting against the sunrise. He's won an astounding 13 French Opens, including the last four in a row, and the line is evidence that he's the favorite to do so again. Someday he'll fall off — rival Roger Federer is seeing his odds and game slip now — but that time doesn't yet seem here. You'd have to bet $120 to win $100 on Nadal.
Novak Djokovic (+350): If Nadal stumbles along the way, Djokovic is right there and ready to swoop in. A perpetual runner-up at the French, he has three Finals losses and one victory in the last seven years. If you believe Nadal is approaching the end of his domination, this is where you want to turn.
Dominic Thiem (+600): Let's suppose you want to look outside the expected names. You want to bring Thiem into the mix. Were it not for Nadal, he'd probably have two or three French Open victories already. He reached the finals in both 2018 and 2019, and reached the semifinals in 2017 and quarterfinals last year.
Diego Schwartzman (+2800): Sleepers are tough to back at the French Open because of the dominance of the Big Two, but if you're feeling lucky, give Schwartzman a look. He reached the semifinals last year and the quarterfinals in 2018, losing to Nadal both times. But he's strong on clay, and already has one win on clay this year in Buenos Aires at the Argentina Open in March.
The French Open begins May 24 and runs through June 13. Enjoy the ride!
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