Nine time French Open Champion, Rafael Nadal, has not won a Grand Slam title in three years. However, he has looked right back to his best in 2017, having reached the Australian Open Final and winning three clay court tournaments in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid.
Men’s French Open Singles
The Majorcan’s seventeen-match winning streak finally came to an end in Rome last week (losing to Dominic Thiem), but this enabled him head home, recuperate and indulge in some down-time.
The hunger, energy and intensity have returned to Nadal’s game, and along with the resurgence of great rival Roger Federer, that too, seems to have inspired the Spaniard.
Federer misses Paris, though, as he prepares for the grass and hard court seasons.
A new era for Djokovic
Much of the talk in recent days has been dominated by Novak Djokovic’s announcement that Andre Agassi will be part of his new coaching team. The defending champion hinted at a return to form in Rome last week, before losing in the final to 20-year-old sensation Alexander Zverev (18/1).
Djokovic (3/1) has reached four of the last five finals at Roland Garros, but is still lacking consistency, in what has been a testing spell.
Zverev, on the other hand, is full of confidence, and has now entered the world’s top ten for the very first time. Landing his first Masters title is an impressive feat, but it may be too early to expect a Grand Slam success.
World number One, Andy Murray (14/1), arrives in Paris out of form, but under the radar. After a superb 2016, the Scot has claimed just one title in Dubai this year, but has lost five out of his last ten matches. A bigger threat could be the 2015 champion, Stan Wawrinka (14/1). The 32-year-old will be aiming for a productive warm-up event in Geneva this week, as he strives for greater consistency in his performance level.
And a word on Dominic Thiem (9/1) too. The 23-year-old Austrian is the only player to have beaten Rafa Nadal on the clay this season, and was a semi-finalist here twelve months ago. He has the baseline game to compete with all the top players, and could be set for another good run in France.
In my opinion, the stage is set for Rafael Nadal (22/25) to win his 15th Grand Slam singles title and 10th French Open.
Women’s French Open Singles
Two-time champion Maria Sharapova has been denied entry to this year’s French Open, despite serving a fifteen month drugs ban from the sport. It’s a story that has dominated the column inches in the worldwide tennis media, but the Russian has not been given the green light to play.
To add to that, Australian Open winner Serena Williams is expecting her first child, so will not be attending. This gives the event a wide-open feel to it.
Romania’s Simona Halep (7/2) is seeking her first Grand Slam singles title, but has enjoyed a strong run of form during the clay court season, with a tournament win in Madrid and a runners-up berth in Italy.
Her conqueror in Rome was the in-form Ukrainian, Elina Svitolina (9/1), who has now claimed four titles in 2017. She also reached the quarter-finals in Paris in 2015. Halep’s best showing at the French Open was a final appearance in 2014.
Current champion, Garbine Muguruza (7/1), seems in good shape too, although there is some concern over her retirement in the semi-finals at the Italian Open last week, due to a neck injury. Hopefully, that was just a precaution, with the next two weeks in mind.
The French seem to have genuine hope in Kristina Mladenovic (13/1), who is without doubt, one of the most improved players on the tour. The 24-year-old has reached four finals this year (two on clay), and she is bidding to become the first home player to win this event, since Mary Pierce, in the year 2000.
Venus Williams (40/1) seems over-priced given her recent run of form; even at 36, she can still challenge the top players of the game. Whilst she may be better on other surfaces, she still possesses plenty of power.
There are countless other players to mention, such as Karolina Pliskova (16/1), who has the big-hitting game for any surface, but is still awaiting her first Grand Slam singles title. Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky (50/1), a former semi-finalist here, always seems to spring to life on the clay of Roland Garros. Her form has been erratic this year, but she thrives in this particular environment and is another that could go well.
World number one, Angelique Kerber (15/1), is struggling for form though, and it’s difficult to be too enthusiastic about her chances. The 2009 champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova (12/1), does continue to play at a good consistent level, and is one to consider, as are, Kiki Bertens, Laura Siegemund, Anastasija Sevastova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. All of these players arrive in Paris full of confidence.
This is a very tough outright market to solve, so it could pay to select a few players at decent odds.