I really have had a stinker in the two majors this year. My reputation for 2020 is now firmly on the line. The French can be my one saviour, which I usually reserve for Wimbledon. Without SW19 this year though I have to turn to an event where I haven’t shown my best form in the last couple of years. Well gone are the glorious years of being on Mariano Puerta to win the French Open. My clay form is a bit more like Evo’s of late for a guideline. We are better at showcasing our many talents on the faster surfaces. The men’s French is always pretty difficult as you would generally expect to see Rafa, Nole and Thiem as very strong favourites. Should I just steam into the 4/9 and 1/5 double for Nole and Rafa to win their sections? I doubt it, far too much to lose, I’m more likely to do my bollock in a blaze of glory. At least the Women’s is always ultra-competitive these days. Let’s do this.
I would love to take on Nole here but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Berrettini, Bautista Agut, Khachanov, Garin and Carreno Busta are in this section but the top-priced 4/9 jolly looks to have this. I won’t be getting involved as boring as it may sound.
Recommendations – No Bet.
Stefanos Tsitsipas is rightfully the jolly for this section. Just behind him, you have Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Denis Shapovalov. After backing Stefanos in New York I will have to take a back seat here. Once again he probably should win this section especially in light of the fact that Medvedev is not at the same level on clay. Rublev and Shapovalov are around 6/1 and 15/2 respectively and though both playing very well, it just looks a little too short. I will turn my attentions to two Serbians in his section. Filip Krajinovic looks too be in good form of late and took Nole reasonably close in Rome. Dusan Lajovic will be my saver on this section, he always seems pretty solid on the red dirt and he may be able to give me a run for my money here. That is something both players can hopefully do here in double figures.
Take the 16/1 with Betfair/Paddy’s if you can about Krajinovic, or there is 12/1 with Bet365. Then take the 25/1 Lajovic with Skybet, or settle for anything over 20/1, which is pretty much the industry price.
Dominic Thiem is the odds on favourite here at around a top-priced 10/11. Thiem has made it to at least the semis in the last four years here and has always been the obvious candidate to break the Nadal stranglehold. Having just won his first slam and with little practice on clay since he might just be worth taking on. He also faces Marin Cilic in his opener. There is plenty of quality here with Schwartzman, Wawrinka, Murray, Monfils, FAA, Ruud and Coric all lurking. Murray and Stan being the pick of the first-round matchups. I have always been a fan of Schwartzman, so he will be my main bet here. Making the final in Rome has cemented that, he has also given Rafa and Nole good matches in Paris before. I will also have smaller bets on Casper Ruud and Dominik Koepfer. Ruud has been on fire and looks like he will be here to stay. He may have played too much tennis coming in here though, so go steady. Back to back weeks and going deep might hinder the Norwegian’s chances. Koepfer is a player I have been keeping an eye on for a while after seeing him in New York last year. His clay form has been decent, though he has a tough draw, this is reflected in the price.
Diego Schwartzman at 8/1 with Bet365, or around 7s generally will be my main bet, he is in the ‘easier’ section of the draw. I will then have a small cover on Casper Ruud at 16/1 with William Hills or 18/1 with Bet365. Finally, I will back Dominik Koepfer, he is 100/1 with Victor Chandler, but anything at 66/1 or above is worth a very small bet and both Skybet and Hills oblige there.
Under normal circumstances here I would think that I would be keeping my money in my back pocket. Nadal is a top-priced 1/4. I have read a couple of things though saying that neither Thiem nor Nadal is made up with the decision to change the balls from Babolat to Wilson in Paris this year. Rafa seems to think its a particularly bad choice and also thinks the balls are heavy and could cause injury. For that reason, I will have a small bet on Alexander Zverev at 10/1. I won’t go steaming in as he has just reached the final in NYC and you never quite know which way his form will be after that. With David Ferrer in his corner though he has an ideal mentor to prepare him for Paris. Fognini, Goffin, Sinner are all in here too but Goffin/Sinner have been drawn against one another and Fognini doesn’t look in great form since the restart. Sebastian Korda has impressed me and the 20-year-old has got through qualies to make the main draw. It would be asking a lot to win a quarter that has the greatest dirt ballplayer of all time in it but he is worth keeping tabs on.
Alexander Zverev will be a small bet at 10/1 with Paddys/Betfair and a 50p type bet on Sebastian Korda at either 200/1 with 365 or 150/1 with William Hill, just for the banter.
Let’s have little each-way nibbles on Zverev, Schwartzman and the 50p bet goes to Krajinovic. Zverev is generally 40/1 or 50/1, Schwartzman is in the 50/1 to 66/1 bracket and Krajinovic is 200/1 -250/1 across the board. Any of the other players I have mentioned are at least 200/1 or bigger. I will probably stick to just these three. Like I said you are opposing the GOAT and of course Nole here!
Simona Halep is a worthy favourite for this event and there isn’t too much disputing that. Can I back her at 13/10 for the quarter? I think I would rather look somewhere else. I’m not too convinced by the next few in the betting in Kiki Bertens and Jo Konta right now. Vondrousova has shown improvement of late but I think I will persevere with Maria Sakkari here and then have a speculative punt on Svetlana Kuznetsova as my outsider.
Nothing too risky but will back Maria Sakkari at a general 14/1 in the industry and have a very small bet on Svetlana Kuznetsova at 50/1 with Paddys/Betfair or 33/1 with William Hills.
This is a really tricky quarter. Serena, Azarenka and Svitolina all bunched in here. All joint-favourites with the bookmakers. Svitolina has never made the semis here, Azarenka has never been at her best on clay and with Serena I am biased. I certainly wouldn’t back Svitolina, I can say that much. The other two? Possibly. I bottled tipping Serena for her quarter in NYC to my cost. If Vika had looked more at ease on the surface over the years I would tip her up but that has not been the case. Mertens, Kontaveit and Putintseva will all like their chances here but when I look at the prices and what they have in front of them I just can’t get involved. Due to this, I think I will just have an interest at big prices. Pironkova looked in great shape in New York and I think the 40/1 is worth a shot. Anna Blinkova may be able to give Svitolina a match in the third round if she can get there and is a 3 figure quote.
You could literally stake a few quid here and you wouldn’t even notice the damage. Pironkova is 40/1 with Hills and Skybet and Blinkova is 100/1 with Paddy Power/Betfair.
Garbine Muguruza is the jolly for this quarter and even though she has not been one to trust in the past, I am struggling to see past her here. It has looked like her game is heading in the right direction and she has joined forces with Conchita Martinez again. Muguruza’s nearest rivals in the betting are Elena Rybakina at 9/2 and Aryna Sabalenka at 9/1 before you get to Sofia Kenin in double figures. I would have been interested in backing Darya Kasatkina as my saver here but her injury in Rome has put me off, so I will go with Fiona Ferro at 18/1 with Paddy’s/Betfair. The 22-year-old is a useful operator on clay and won in Palermo recently.
I’ll take the general 13/8 or 6/4 on Garbine Muguruza and 18/1 with PP about Ferro but nothing wrong with the 16/1 with Boyles.
Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova are sharing the market favouritism with the useful Petra Martic just in behind and then Madison Keys. Martic is the one I like out of all these and I think she has recovered from her latest line of injuries. I think! The fact I would have to back her at 6/1 here though doesn’t fill me with joy and I will look elsewhere. Sloane Stephens has decent form in Paris and might be able to work with her draw here. Alize Cornet gave me a run for my money in New York, so I think I will give her another run at her home event as a very small saver.
Sloane Stephens is 20/1 generally and 22/1 with Paddy/Betfair. Cornet is 25/1 with VC and Skybet and looks good for a few quid. Only small bets on both these two though.
I will go with Garbine Muguruza at 7/1 each-way (Betfred and Bet365) and I will also back Sloane Stephens each-way at 100/1 (Boyles, Betfair & Bet365). For the 50p bet, you could do worse than back Pironkova at 200/1 with Hills or 250/1 with Skybet and Boyles. I will be having my usual (small) cover bet on Serena at 14s on the exchanges but I certainly wouldn’t expect others to. We all know the French has been her least profitable slam.
Good luck to everyone, if you do my follow me in on any of these bets then you shouldn’t need to stake much with the exception of Muguruza for her quarter. As I said at the start, I will try and go out in a blaze of glorious losers here no doubt, to keep inline with 2020.
Andy Del Potro