There are different kinds of odds-on futures favorites.
For instance, there’s the Thoroughbred who is a (+900) bet against a bunch of other (+1000) horses – whether or not the colt has a thick build it can be described as a “thin” favorite.
There’s the LPGA golfer who wins 5 tournaments in a row going into the U.S. Women’s Open and becomes a (-150) wager to prevail. Even if he’s 6 feet tall, 135 pounds and wiry like a power cable, she’s still a “heavy” favorite in Las Vegas terms.
Then there are the dubious favorites, or “dodgy” as they say in the United Kingdom. Sometimes there is an odds-on favorite who appears to be vulnerable yet still an existential threat in the eyes of handicappers. That scenario causes other athletes’ lines-to-win to fluctuate shorter and longer as bettors ponder the question – who is best-equipped to overthrow a shaky monarch?
It’s a fun game. But as dodgy favorites go, you don’t often see them at half-shorter odds than living legends…and at twice-as-short winning odds as anyone else in the field. That seems to be exactly the case, however, at the 2019 French Open tennis tournament.
At least in the Women’s Singles category.
Simona Halep is a more-than-solid favorite to defend her crown at Roland Garros in the event beginning this Sunday, with (+400) or 4-to-1 odds to prevail. Serena Williams is only an 8-to-1 choice.
Except Halep is not exactly on top of her game at the moment. The clay court specialist appears to be a “favorite by default” with regard to the potential shortcomings of others in Paris.
It’s not hard to imagine that someone in the field will have a great tournament and serve as spoiler to a flawed top pick. The draw isn’t until Thursday, but the eventual winner has to beat everyone, starting with the defending champ. Who can raise heck against Halep in a final?
Let’s look at 9 of the most-popular bets to win the women’s bracket.
French Open Futures Odds and Player Previews
Simona Halep (+400 Odds-to-Win 2019 French Open)
The 27-year-old Romanian rode atop the WTA rankings for 64 weeks from 2017 to 2019. She’s a clay court dynamo, full of stamina in her prime, and a popular pick to defend in France.
But questions surround her bid in 2019. Halep began the first portion of the season without a coach in hopes of playing with less pressure, but hired Belgian teacher Thierry Van Cleemput to guide her at the Qatar Total Open in February. She lost in the finals of that tournament, and lost in the finals of the Madrid Open to Kiki Bertens.
Halep owns a 72% career winning percentage on clay.
Serena Williams (+800)
Mika will be gunning for her 4th French Open title, having won in 2002, 2013, and 2015. Her 172-34 career clay record is deceptive, as she has only lost twice on clay surfaces since 2015.
More’s the pity. Injuries have boggled the 23-time Grand Slam champion in recent tournaments, as she withdrew from the Italian Open with a knee injury. Williams also withdrew from the Miami Open in March due to injury, and an illness sidelined her for Indian Wells.
Williams was eliminated in the Round of 16 to Maria Sharapova in last year’s French Open. I’d still love her as a futures pick at (finally!) underdog odds, but the injuries could make it too tough in Paris.
Garbiñe Muguruza (+900)
Muguruza is hoping to rebound a 1st-round upset to Petra Martic at the Madrid Open.
The 25-year-old Venezuelan was in better form at the Monterrey Open in April, when she defeated Victoria Azarenka in the final. Her stellar victory at Roland Garros in 2016 helped propel her to the World #1 ranking, but she struggled in 2018 and fell out of the top 10.
She has an impressive 24-5 record at the French Open. Muguruza is the type of bid I can see just falling short in the semifinals or final this year.
Sloane Stephens (+1000)
Sloane lost to Simona Halep in the 2018 finals, and is hungry for a better ending in 2019. There’s no getting around a mediocre clay court record of 51-35, but many of the defeats came when Stephens was still a developing athlete and not the player she is today.
The 2017 U.S. Open champion owns 6 career WTA titles, with her most recent victory coming at the 2018 Miami Open. Stephens decided to part ways with coach Kamau Murray after the 2018 season and recently teamed up with veteran coach Sven Groeneveld.
Elina Svitolina (+1000)
The Ukrainian pro hopes to finally advance past the Round of 16 at the French Open. She was defeated in the Round of 32 by Mihaela Buzarnescu in 2018.
Svitolina is further example of why Halep is such a strong betting favorite despite playing without her A-game so often in 2018 and ’19. The 10-to-1 underdog has yet to win a title this calendar year after an impressive run to the finish line on the tour last season.
Svitolina struggled with a knee injury early in 2019.
Naomi Osaka (+1000)
The 21-year old from Osaka, Japan is currently the world’s #1 ranked player, but has not yielded positive results at the French Open during her brief career. Her best finishes at Roland-Garros were Round of 32 exits in 2016 and 2018.
Osaka’s recent withdrawal from the Italian Open with a right hand injury will keep spectators on edge. She also withdrew from the Stuttgart Open with an abdominal injury.
The youngster has been amazing at Grand Slams with titles at the 2018 U.S. Open and the 2019 Australian Open. But it feels like yet more bad timing for this 10-to-1 market.
Petra Kvitová (+1200)
The two-time Wimbledon champion just missed out on capturing her third Grand Slam at the 2019 Australian Open by falling to Naomi Osaka.
The 29-year old Czech lefty has a 23-10 record at the French Open and her best finish was a semifinal appearance in 2012. She has a 69 career winning percentage on clay courts.
She has been in tip-top form in 2019 with four finals appearances and championships at the Sydney International and the clay surfaced Stuttgart Open.
Karolína Plíšková (+1400)
I’m feeling this pick a little more in what could be a free-for-all tournament if Halep falters.
Plíšková has had an inconsistent career at Roland-Garros with an all-time record of 9-7. Her best run in the tournament came in 2017 when she lost in the semis.
But she is also coming off a remarkable Italian Open win in which she defeated Johanna Konta in the final.
That’s got to improve a player’s confidence level on clay.
Karolina also captured a championship at Brisbane International and made a run to the finals at the Miami Open.
Madison Keys (+2200)
The youngster from Rock Island, Illinois is coming off her best performance at the French Open in 2018 and is my favorite “sleeper” pick this season.
Keys made her only Grand Slam finals appearance at the 2017 U.S. Open when she lost to fellow up-and-comer Sloane Stephens. But in a recent a tune up for the French Open, she defeated Caroline Wozniacki for the title at the Charleston Open in April.
She is 1-2 for her career in WTA Finals on clay surfaces.
Best Women’s Singles Bets for the French Open
This bracket at Roland Garros should be renamed the “Bad Timing Open” since so many of the top women are struggling with injuries and decayed form.
Simona Halep seems healthy enough, but she may not be 100% from a mental-game POV.
That leaves the smart shark to pick a few healthy, young, improving athletes at bargain prices on the futures board.
I’m feeling Plíšková’s line at (+1400) because of her relative good health and the payoff involved in a win. But for a chance at an even nicer payoff, consider Madison “Avenue” Keys at 22-to-1.