It would make all kinds of sense to wait until the draw occurs to preview players and futures bets at the 2019 French Open.
That’s part of the reason I’m penning this blog post just prior to the Thursday night ceremony.
There will be an awful lot of coverage of Roland Garros (as always) centered around potential match-ups in the drawn brackets. That’s fine, but at Legit Gambling Sites we prefer to stand out from the pack. Besides, there is betting value in knowing a tennis pro’s general chances to win before learning of the draw – like “line-forecasting” NFL games before peeking at what the bookmaker thinks.
By the time you read the player capsules below, the betting odds will likely be adjusted, as action pours in on athletes who appear to have an easy draw in the event beginning on Monday.
But I’m also not convinced that there isn’t too much Grand Slam gambling action influenced by the draws. Perhaps players’ lines are more mispriced after the draw ceremony than before. After all, to win the French Open, you have to beat everybody you meet in Paris. In this season’s Men’s Singles tournament it is almost a given that an eventual winner will have to go through Nadal or Djokovic.
Should the draw be disregarded in your futures betting choices? No, not necessarily. But if we find a pro who has been winning matches, preserving health, and getting too-thin action as a pick for outright Men’s Singles winner, if his line moves longer following the draw, it’s probably a bargain market.
From a betting perspective, this could be the Year of the Underdog at Roland Garros.
French Open: Favorites’ Lines for Paris Looking Dodgy
When there are over-valued favorites on the futures betting board, the gambler’s task becomes simple.
You’ve got to find Waldo.
Where’s Waldo? Waldo is the strong futures pick with the overly-long, big-payoff, small-risk line. The wager always has to be somewhere. If the favorite or favorites for a tournament ought to be art longer odds, rarely are the resulting %s dispersed evenly across every other price on the board.
This spring’s French Open appears littered with “false” favorites across the top of the Men’s and Women’s Singles markets. Simona Halep is a consensus 4/1 or 5/1 pick to win Roland Garros at sportsbooks across Las Vegas and London, and you almost wouldn’t even know that she’s lost in finals on clay, or surfed through a series of coaches – already – in ’19.
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal is just about an (Even) wager to win the Men’s final in Paris, at least according to our pals at MyBookie. The Spaniard is the undisputed King of Clay, and he’s been on fire when healthy. I don’t overreact when star players tweak a muscle and pull out of Anywhere Open against whoever, but Nadal pulled out of a recent match with Roger Federer with a knee injury.
Regardless of how the draw pans out, a 1-to-1 wager is an awfully-steep price for a nicked-up tennis player. One of these days the small hurts are going to add up to a big hurt for El Nino.
As for Federer, tabloid headlines are trying to imply that he’s not interested in the French Open or doesn’t think the courts of Paris are inspiring enough. That’s hardly his actual quote – he’s just bothered by injuries and not ready to sacrifice life and limb for an event he usually loses to Nadal. Which leaves the door even wider-open to a spoiler on the Men’s Singles side.
Below are 7 of the top Men’s Singles markets at MyBookie – odds subject to change. Let’s keep a special eye on the players who aren’t getting a ton of action and could get even less with a seemingly hard fate in the draw, an angle which upsets in the bracket can always turn on its head later on.
Hopefully, our underdog pick will only have to beat a portion of the Nadal-Djokovic-Federer triumvirate as opposed to all 3 legends on his way to taking the hardware.
Rafael Nadal (-110)
As David Foley-as-clergyman put it when Kids in the Hall made fun of Nietzsche’s “God is Dead” quote, “I’ve got some good news, and some bad news.”
Good news first. Nadal has had a remarkable career clay record of 429-39 (92%). The 32-year-old Spaniard is coming off a strong performance at the Italian Open where he defeated Novak Djokovic for the title. Early in the 2019 clay season, he made semifinal appearances in the Monte-Carlo Masters, Barcelona Open, and Madrid Open.
Now the bad news. Nadal has had to battle more than just the Indian Wells injury this year. While you can argue that the semifinal losses were a product of the great athlete pacing himself, we’re talking about a minus-odds futures wager in a field of dozens of potential winners in 2019.
Novak Djokovic (+175)
The Joker has not fared as well at the French Open as other Grand Slams. His only title at Roland-Garros came in 2016 with a finals victory over Andy Murray. The 31-year-old Serbian has lost in the finals of the French Open on 3 separate occasions, twice to Nadal.
Djokovic recently lost to Nadal again, in the finals of the clay-surfaced Italian Open. He was in tremendous form at the Madrid Open, however, notching an impressive win over young Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Dominic Thiem (+450)
A 25-year-old Austrian pro, Thiem is searching for his maiden career Grand Slam. He’s hoping for another solid French Open performance after falling to Rafael Nadal in the final last year.
Although Thiem was upset in the Round of 32 of the Italian Open by Fernando Verdasco, he is, generally speaking, off to an outstanding start in the 2019 clay season. He won the Barcelona Open, plowing through Nadal in the process.
Thiem has also scored 2 wins over Roger Federer this year, with victories at the Madrid Open and the final at Indian Wells. But he changed coaches last month when separating from Gunter Bresnik and teaming-up with Nicolas Massu.
Alexander Zverev (+1200)
This 22-year-old German is a rising star in the sport, blessed with enough speed, power and agility to have knocked-off a killer baseline player named Novak Djokovic (who you may have heard of) last November.
But a Grand Slam on clay? Zverev’s line is mystifying at 12-to-1.
The closest Zverev has come at Roland Garros so far is a quarterfinal run, and while he’s certainly a young phenom who hasn’t had many kicks at the can yet (and who will continue to develop his sprinting backhand), that’s still not a good reason to rank him above proven winners through – ahem – “consumer vote” at online betting boards.
Zverev has been shaky on clay in the 2019 season, failing to make it past the quarterfinals in any tournament. He has also revealed to reporters that he has been fighting injuries all season.
12-to-1 my backhand. Keep your eye out for a Swiss player at nearly triple the odds.
Stefanos Tsitsipas (+1600)
Considered a star in the making, this 20-year-old upstart from Greece is the world’s 6th-ranked player and is coming off 3 consecutive stellar performances during the 2019 clay season.
Tsitsipas won the final of the Estoril Open in Portugal, lost to Novak Djokovic in the final of the Madrid Open, and lost in the semifinal of the Italian Open to Rafael Nadal.
Tsitsipas has a career clay record of 23-12 (66%), but his string of consistent finishes in 2019 could be a sign of rapid development…and a potential break-through Grand Slam win in Paris.
Roger Federer (+1800)
The health of the Swiss Maestro will be in question. He recently voiced his displeasure at ATP Tour officials for playing schedules of twice in a single day, which he feels has contributed to his injuries and no-gos late in a storied career.
Maybe a professional tour ought to listen to the big man. Federer’s 20 Grand Slam titles are the most of any man in ATP history. It would be a shame to lose him for good anytime soon.
Then again, Roger Federer can absolutely be a picky player, especially in his aging years.
The French Open has always been a struggle for Federer to win, with his only title at Roland-Garros coming in 2009 in a final against Robin Söderling. He has fallen in defeat to Rafael Nadal in 4 finals at Roland Garros.
Sleeper Special: Stan Wawrinka (+3300)
The 34-year-old Swiss veteran aims to recapture his previous magic at Roland-Garros. Wawrinka won the 2015 French Open title with a final match victory over Novak Djokovic, and made an appearance in the 2017 finals, losing to Rafael Nadal.
Clay is Wawrinka’s best surface, so why isn’t he faring better in the spring season? The seasoned Grand Slam competitor is working his way back from a 2018 full of injuries.
But his lighter playing and training schedule through winter could be a boon against players who have been worn down by endless Tour semifinals and finals.
Wawrinka’s odds are so long – far underestimating his chances to make a real comeback and surprise the favorites – that he has to be considered at 33-to-1.
French Open Men’s Singles: Best Likely Post-Draw Futures Bets
It’s similar to the scenario in Women’s Singles this year, where Simona Halep is getting all the play at the sportsbooks while other, just as-likely contenders lurk. Nadal could conceivably sail to another win and threaten to make a mockery of Paris and clay court competition altogether.
I’m just not buying El Nino’s “caution” in pulling out of a fairly big-time match with Roger flippin’ Federer. The slender chances of getting a Nadal at less-than 100% health are not normally a big deal due to his high pain threshold and fighting spirit in any match.
At (-110) at MyBookie, they’re prohibitive of a smart wager. So are Djokovic’s relatively minor, but real issues preventing a wager at (+175) from making much sense.
I’m looking hard at Tsitsipas and Wawrinka. In both cases, we can future-goggle the “hindsight” that would take place if either player won, beating a weather-worn Nadal in a final. In one case the up-and-coming greenhorn whom we should have expected to break-out by now – in the other a powerful veteran who was missing his best shots and best legs until this week.