Women’s tennis remains thrilling unpredictable and, as expected, many big names have already crashed out of the French Open at Roland Garros. The likes of Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Elina Svitolina, Caroline Wozniacki, Jelena Ostapenko, Karolina Pliskova, Petra Kvitova and Elise Mertens have all packed their bags and gone home. Yet a few big guns are still standing in the tournament, along with a couple of unheralded, unseeded players, and the rest of the week is intriguingly poised.
It stands in stark contrast to the men’s game, where Rafael Nadal is powering his way through bamboozled opponents with consummate ease. The king of clay looks invincible right now, and it will be hard for anyone to stop him in his bid to land a record 11th French Open title. As such, he is the heavy favourite, but a lot of action is still going on the Spaniard. The favourite in the women’s side of the draw is world No. 1 Simona Halep, but unlike Nadal she has never won a single Grand Slam, let alone the French Open. She is in phenomenal form, but should you back her or oppose her?
The latter would be the more attractive choice, particularly when you consider the fact that she has twice flopped in Grand Slam finals in the past year. She made it through to the final here a year ago, and lost to unseeded Ostapenko, bringing back painful memories of her 2014 final defeat at the hands of Maria Sharapova. She reached the final of the Australian Open earlier this year, only to lose to Wozniacki. At odds of 10/3 or lower, she looks a risky choice, but she is still attracting plenty of bets.
Former champion Sharapova is into the quarters by default, after her opponent in the last 16, Serena Williams, pulled out with an injury. Sharapova’s talent is indisputable, but the jury is out on her form and fitness. She has not won a big tournament since returning from a doping ban, and she might be worth fading in this market. Garbine Muguruza, the 2016 champion, has attracted a lot of action and the price on her has fallen accordingly, and she looks like a great choice right now.
There is also a great deal of value to be had on Daria Kasatkina. We tipped her as a 20/1 shot before the tournament began and she has surged through to the quarter-finals after beating world number two Wozniacki. That was a great achievement and it should fill the youngster with confidence ahead of her clash with Sloane Stephens. She is now 13/2 with Bet365, but that still represents a great value and it might be a good idea to back her. You could pick a few options and hedge your bets.
Stephens and Angelique Kerber are better suited to hard courts, so they may struggle to make an impact in the latter stages of the tournament. If you think Halep can be beaten, Kasatkina and Muguruza look like great options. Then there is 40/1 shot Yulia Putintseva, a clay-court specialist who could be really dangerous over the next couple of days. Ostapenko defied longer odds to lift the trophy last year, and it could be Putintseva’s turn to join the big time.