The second major of the year is now upon us with the French Open set to begin on Sunday night (AEST)! There’s a stacked field with all the best players in the world set to take centre stage in hope to take home their share in the huge prize money and ranking points on offer. We absolutely cleaned up in the first major, backing both the men’s winner in Novak Djokovic ($2.50) and women’s winner in Naomi Osaka ($15) at the Australian Open and are confident in the plays we’ve got for you below in our French Open preview. Check them out and good luck to everyone following us over the next two weeks!
Below is our preview and betting tips for the men’s draw at the French Open, but we’ll also have our Women’s Preview and Betting Tips available in a separate article very shortly!
The French Open, also known as Roland-Garros, is an annual tennis tournament that was first held in 1891. It was initially held on a sand surface up until 1908, when it changed to the red clay that we see today. It is the second of four Grand Slam events held each year and the only one played on clay. The most successful men’s player of all time at Roland-Garros is Rafael Nadal with 11 titles to his name. Nadal is also the defending champion at this event and will start favourite in the 128-strong field.
Like all Grand Slam events there are 32 seeded players in both the men’s and the women’s section at the French Open. The seeds are decided by ranking points earned over the past 12 months and nearly always correlate with a player’s world ranking. Earning a seed is important at a Grand Slam because it means you won’t play anyone inside the world’s top 32 ranking until at least the third round. Below is a list of the 32 seeded men at this year’s French Open.
(1) Novak Djokovic, (2) Rafael Nadal,
(3) Roger Federer, (4) Dominic Thiem,
(5) Alexander Zverev, (6) Stefanos Tsitsipas,
(7) Kei Nishikori, (8) Juan Martín del Potro,
(9) Fabio Fognini, (10) Karen Khachanov,
(11) Marin Cilic, (12) Daniil Medvedev,
(13) Borna Coric, (14) Gael Monfils,
(15) Milos Raonic, (16) Nikoloz Basilashvili,
(17) Marco Cecchinato, (18) Diego Schwartzman,
(19) Roberto Bautista Agut, (20) Guido Pella,
(21) Denis Shapovalov, (22) Alex de Minaur,
(23) Lucas Pouille, (24) Fernando Verdasco,
(25) Stan Wawrinka, (26) Felix Auger-Aliassime,
(27) Gilles Simon, (28) David Goffin,
(29) Kyle Edmund, (30) Matteo Berrettini,
(31) Dusan Lajovic, (32) Laslo Djere.
The major bookies have highlighted three main contenders to take out the men’s title and we tend to agree. Rafael Nadal ($2.10), Novak Djokovic ($3.50), and Dominic Thiem ($7) are the only single figure quotes you’ll find at any agency. After those three you get out to the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas ($21) and Roger Federer ($23) and then everyone else after that is $30+. With that said, let’s take a closer look at the three main hopes.
The Spanish superstar has absolutely owned the French Open ever since he first stepped foot on the red clay at Roland-Garros in 2005 as a fresh-faced 19-year-old. He won the French Open on his first attempt and has won another 10 of them since to hold the all-time record for most French Open titles with 11, which is also the most won by any man or woman at any of the four Grand Slam events in the Open Era. Fast track to 2019 and he’s still the man to beat, which is a testament to his longevity and desire to stay at the top of his game. Nadal’s lead up form to this year’s French Open hasn’t been ideal - suffered a couple of uncharacteristic losses on clay, but he hit his straps at the Italian Open last week where he defeated Novak Djokovic in three sets in the final.
Novak Djokovic, or ‘The Joker’, enters this tournament as the men’s number one ranked player in the world. After a couple of poor seasons by his lofty standards, Djokovic has returned to the top of his game and has won each of the last three majors as a result. If he triumphs at the French Open, Djokovic will hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously for the second in his career. The Joker suffered a couple of bizarre losses after lifting the trophy at the Australian Open earlier this year but has since regained his focus and looks to be on top of his game (or very close to it) with the French Open around the corner.
Austrian 25-year-old Dominic Thiem obviously doesn’t have the runs on the board like the other two contenders in Nadal and Djokovic, but he does have an excellent game that is very well suited to the clay at Roland-Garros. In fact, Thiem is widely regarded as the second-best clay court player on tour and may very well have had a French Open title or two to his name if not for Rafael Nadal. Thiem reach the semi-finals of the French Open in both 2016 and 2017 before making it all the way to the final in 2018 where he would lose to Rafael Nadal in straight sets. Further, the only players to knock Thiem out of the French Open in the past three years are Nadal (2017-18) and Djokovic (2016). Thiem has had an inconsistent clay court swing to date, although he did manage to lift the title at the Barcelona Open in April where he defeated Nadal in the semi-final in straight sets.
It should be a great fortnight of tennis with the world’s best men’s tennis players going head-to-head in hope of being crowned champion of the French Open. However… if we’re being 100% honest, then it must be said that we were genuinely shocked to see Rafa open at as long as $2.10 at some agencies. Calling $2.10 long may sound a bit absurd but when you consider he’s the 11-time champion from 14 attempts and has only dropped one set from his last 16 matches at the tournament, then you can understand where we’re coming from. Djokovic and Thiem may be playing some great tennis of late, but $2 odds for the king of clay is just too good to pass up.
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