2013 French Open Odds and Tennis Betting Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 5/22/2013
If you are a tennis fan and/or bettor, the best stretch the sport has to offer arrives starting Sunday on the red clay of Roland Garros in Paris with the second Grand Slam of the season, the French Open. What makes this time of year spectacular is that just a few weeks after the French concludes, the sport's marquee tournament begins: Wimbledon (sorry U.S. Open, but it's true).
Unfortunately, the French Open has lost one of its biggest stars as Scotland's Andy Murray was forced to withdraw earlier this week because of back problems. Murray has passed Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as the No. 2 player in the world. He won last year's Olympics and U.S. Open and reached the finals of the Australian Open in January, losing to Novak Djokovic.
It's Murray's first missed Grand Slam since Wimbledon in 2007. Honestly, he had little chance at the French as clay is clearly his worst surface -- like Federer and Djokovic -- and had been past the quarterfinals only once. Murray's focus is on being healthy for Wimbledon. If he wins there, he's the biggest star in the United Kingdom for a while.
Still, it would have been nice to see the Big 4 in a tournament together for the first time since last year's Wimbledon, especially now that Murray is a member of the Grand Slam club. Nadal has been battling knee problems that forced him to miss seven months, including the Olympics, U.S. Open and Australian Open. However, the clay-court maestro looks right on form. He has won clay titles already this month in Madrid and Rome, at the latter routing Federer in the finals.
There has never been a clay-court player to match Nadal, and last year he beat Djokovic in four sets to win his record seventh French Open title. Nadal still has just one career loss at Roland Garros, coming to Robin Soderling in the fourth round in 2009 when Nadal wasn't 100 percent healthy. That loss ended Djokovic’s shot at becoming the first male since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four Grand Slam titles at once. It was the first time he had reached the championship match in Paris. Nadal is the overwhelming -135 favorite this year at 5Dimes.
World No. 1 Djokovic had to be feeling confident of his chances against Nadal this year in a potential finals matchup after upsetting Nadal on the clay of Monte Carlo in April. Nadal was an eight-time champion there and had won his 46 previous matches at Monte Carlo. However, Djokovic may have peaked too early as he flopped on the clay in Madrid and Rome. He's +235 in Paris.
Realistically, the only other player with a chance is Federer, who is a whopping +2000. He's starting to show his age without a title so far in 2013 and two lopsided losses to Nadal. Federer's only French title came in 2009 when he didn't have to face Nadal. Federer is just 2-13 on clay against the Spaniard. His only shot is if Nadal gets knocked out before a meeting.
The only other guy I might have given a chance was world No. 7 Juan Martin Del Potro, who reached the 2009 French semis. The Argentine former U.S. Open champion had to withdraw this week with a virus. I am going with Djokovic to complete the career Grand Slam -- he has improved by a round each of the past three years in Paris, culminating with last year's runner-up.
While there's a Big 4 on the men's side when Murray is healthy, there's only a Big 1 among the women these days, and it's American Serena Williams, the +130 favorite. However, like most Americans, clay is Serena's worst surface. She has just one title in Paris, and that was way back in 2002 (the last USA champion). She hasn't been past the quarterfinals in her past six visits and was shocked in the first round last year, her first first-round Slam loss.
Serena enters this tournament having won four straight events and on a career-best 24-match winning streak. She's also 3-0 against world No. 2 Maria Sharapova this year, two of the matches were routs. Sharapova is the +450 second-favorite. Last year, the Russian beat unknown Sara Errani to win her first French Open title and become the 10th woman with a career Grand Slam. Sharapova recently had to withdraw from the Italian Open with an illness but will play in Paris. Sharapova has lost only to one other player this year outside of Serena: Li Na in the semis of the Aussie Open.
No. 3 Victoria Azarenka is the only other player under +1000 at +800. She won the Australian Open and beat Serena in Qatar but has not looked good on clay. Serena just beat her 6-1, 6-3 in Rome. Azarenka has never gotten past the quarters in Paris.
A different player has won this event the six years. I say it's seven with Serena adding her second French Open.
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