Clay-court legend Rafa Nadal will bid to extend his remarkable record at Roland Garros when he competes in the upcoming French Open. Bet on each match and tournament futures at BMR’s green-listed bookmakers.
He has won this tournament 10 times in the past and secured it in dominant fashion last year, surging to the top of the world rankings. He is the clear favourite to successfully defend his trophy in 2018 thanks to his remarkable talent and experience. The Spaniard is in fine form and he recently broke a record by winning 50 consecutive sets on clay, scooping titles in Barcelona and Monte Carlo during the 21-match streak.
Now he has his sights on a 17th Grand Slam, which would leave him just three behind Roger Federer in the all-time stakes. Federer does not compete in the clay-court season any more in a bid to preserve his ageing legs for the grass court campaign, while Andy Murray is still injured and Novak Djokovic is struggling, so Nadal has a pretty clear run at an 11th French Open title. But a pretender to his clay-court throne has emerged in young Austrian Dominic Thiem, who ended Nadal’s run by beating him in the Madrid Open quarter-finals.
Only two or three players have a realistic chance of winning the men’s tournament, but the women’s competition is wide open. Serena Williams has not yet rediscovered her best form post-pregnancy, and this year’s French Open is anyone’s. Last year, unseeded Jelena Ostapenko lifted the trophy, and the women’s game is currently dominated by upsets, surprises and a wonderful unpredictability.
A popular bet is simply Nadal to win the French Open and most bookmakers are offering either 2/5 (1.40) or 4/9 (1.44). However, Sun Bets has a market leading price of 1/2 (1.50). It is a relatively new bookmaker formed in a partnership between Australian heavyweight TAB Corp and the popular daily newspaper. Thiem is the second favourite, and after his victory in Madrid some bookies have him as low as 5/1 (6.0). But a few bookmakers are still offering 8/1 (9.0) and the best rated of them is 888 Sport, which has a four-star ranking at Bookmakers’ Review.
Romanian starlet Simon Halep is the favourite to win the women’s tournament after rising to the top of the world rankings on the back of a strong run of form. She is yet to scoop a Grand Slam, although she has been knocking on the door for a while and seems due one soon. However, it typically pays to look at long-shots in the women’s game, due to the sheer unpredictability of it. Daria Kasatkina looks like an appealing choice and she is 12/1 with the likes of Bet365 and Coral, but all the way out at 18/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair. Angelique Kerber is 10/1 with Unibet and 33/1 with Betfred, illustrating the wide disparities between the way different odds compilers view the women’s game, so it pays to shop around and BMR’s green-listed bookmakers list is your best resource for that.
Nadal first won the French Open in 2005, and he claimed his 10th title last year, a period of dominance previously unheard of in history. Only three other men have won it in that time: Federer in 2009, Stan Wawrinka in 2015 and Novak Djokovic in 2016. Wawrinka is now a fading force due to injury, but Djokovic is a wild card. He has the talent to cause Nadal problems, but his form and fitness are poor. It could be time for a new champion, like Thiem, but Nadal practices careful body management nowadays and, at just 31, he should romp to another title. Maria Sharapova won the French Open in 2012 and 2014, and she too is a wild card this year, following her return from a ban for testing positive for a banned substance in 2017. She is 16/1 with Betfred and Boyle Sports. Garbine Muguruza won it in 2016, and she looks like an intriguing choice 9/1 with 888 Sport and Bet Victor this year.
Youngsters Alexander Zverev and Thiem often earn a lot of hype at Grand Slams, but they have always flopped up until now, so it could pay to oppose them in match betting after a couple of rounds. Juan Martin Del Potro is in strong form, and he is very comfortable on clay, so he looks like a good one to back in match betting, while Kyle Edmund has also been known to spring a surprise. There are decent odds available on Williams, but it might be advisable to swerve her until she proves her form again. Underdogs have been doing really well in the women’s game for a while now, so always seek to oppose the favourite if you see any potential in the underdog.