The second major of the 2021 tennis season is upon us as the French Open begins in Paris, France, on Sunday, May 30th. This tournament was originally supposed to begin a week ago but was pushed back due to COVID lockdowns in France. Thankfully, fans should begin to be allowed back to watch matches starting the second week of this major. Given the way the brackets broke down on both the men’s and women’s sides, this promises to be one of the more wide-open majors we’ve had in a while. As such, we’ll need to find the best French Open betting odds, picks and predictions to build our betting cards around for both the ATP and WTA.
Based on my model and simulation tools, here’s a look at how this tournament should unfold.
French Open Betting Preview: Tennis Picks, Odds & Predictions
ATP Tennis Betting Picks
The bracket for this major on the men’s side is extremely unique simply because the Big Three (Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic) all ended up in the same half of the bracket, which means we can take some shots on the ATP side that we wouldn’t normally. That said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with putting a couple of units on Nadal at -120 to win this tournament outright and not betting anything else. The level of dominance he has displayed at the French Open is really unparalleled in sports. The closest (modern) comparison I can think of is early 2000s Tiger Woods when courses were “Tiger-proofed” purely due to his dominance. If tennis were played on clay for the entire year, I think we would see the ATP actually step in to try and even the playing field between Nadal and everyone else. Fortunately, that’s not going to happen, which means we can continue to get value on betting Nadal to win the French Open until he retires.
Alexander Zverev +1900: Zverev doesn’t exactly fit into that longshot criterion I mentioned above, as he is one of the few that has proven he can hang with anyone on any surface. However, his road appears to be much easier than the other favorite from the NextGen in this half: Stefanos Tsitsipas. Zverev has already won a Masters 1000 on clay this year in Madrid and beat Nadal in the process. Assuming he shows up in form and ready to play, I don’t expect him to be challenged until he faces Casper Ruud in the quarterfinal. After that, it’s (probably) Tsitsipas, and then you’ll have a hedge opportunity against Djokovic or Nadal. For reference, Nadal was -480 against Zverev in Madrid. Given the best-of-five format of majors, he’ll probably get to around -600 or so. That’s a hedgeable price given we’re getting Zverev at +1900.
Jaume Munar +100000, Quarter +2500: Normally, longshots in ATP majors are a no-go due to the dominance of the upper tier of the tour. However, due to the way the bracket broke down, there are opportunities for deep runs from relatively unknown players, especially in the last quarter. Headlining the bottom half of the bottom quarter is Mr. “I don’t want to play here on this surface [clay]!” Daniil Medvedev himself. The other seed in this half of the quarter is Reilly Opelka, who prefers faster hard courts and grass courts. Munar is very much in form, having made it in the finals at Marbella on clay and just having lost a close match to Marco Cecchinato in the semifinals at Parma. In the first round of this tournament last year, Munar lost a tight five-setter to Tsitsipas, proving that he can hang with the most elite players on clay as well. I really like getting the opportunity to take a chance on a young player who has proven himself on this surface, given this draw.
Cristian Garin +15000, Quarter +900: This is a pretty similar theory as the Munar play except with a player who has a much more impressive pedigree. Up until defeating Medvedev at Madrid, Garin hadn’t been having the greatest 2021 season, even though he did win a title on clay in Santiago. This is by far his best chance to make a deep run at a major, and he definitely has the ability on this surface to do it.
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WTA Tennis Betting Picks
Last year, we saw my personal favorite, Iga Swiatek, completely dominate the women’s field on her way to winning her first career professional title at Roland Garros at a +5000 price. She never dropped a set, and not even Simona Halep was able to give her a challenge. The cold, wet conditions really benefited her as she was the only player who proved to be able to hit with power and move just as well on the slow courts. I can’t go back to the well this year at her pre-tournament price of +250, even though she did back up her title with another one on clay this year in Rome. I have absolutely no qualms with the idea of just betting Swiatek at +250 and nothing else in this tournament as she has a great chance to run it back in this tournament and eventually come to be known as the female version of her idol Nadal.
Ashleigh Barty +450: On the WTA side on clay, there’s Swiatek, Halep, Ashleigh Barty, and then there’s everyone else. Halep is injured and won’t play, Swiatek is the betting favorite, and Barty is just behind her at +450. I would be very surprised if the semifinal on the top half of the bracket is not Swiatek vs. Barty. We saw when those two matched up in Rome, the odds were basically a pick ’em, so there’s value in getting Barty at this price now and hedging later if need be.
Paula Badosa +3300, quarter +450: Badosa is having one of the best seasons of anyone on tour this year. She beat Barty in the quarterfinals of Charleston. She made it to the semifinals on clay in Madrid, where she lost in two sets to Barty. And she is coming off of a title in Belgrade, rolling through five matches without dropping a set. She also just got a massive break as she originally was going to face a tough first-round match against Clara Tauson but has been moved to the fourth quarter to face Lauren Davis. This also means that she gets to move out of the quarter with Aryna Sabalenka and Serena Williams and into the quarter with Bianca Andreescu and Naomi Osaka, two players who are not known for their clay-court prowess. I love getting an in-form player in a quarter this wide open.
Bianca Andreescu +2200: We haven’t seen a ton from Andreescu on clay courts because of injury troubles throughout her career. Last week, she dominated in two matches before withdrawing before her match against Sorana Cirstea, citing a need to take it easy before a potential two-week run at a major. She definitely has a path here to make that run, and the injury risk is already baked into the price at +2200.
Nadia Podoroska +10000, quarter +2800: This is now the third player I’ve recommended from the bottom quarter of this bracket, which goes to show just how wide open the field is in this part of the bracket. Podoroska came out of nowhere last year to make the semifinals in this tournament before getting smoked by Swiatek. She clearly likes these courts, has proven herself on clay and is in the most wide-open quarter of the draw. What’s not to like?
French Open Round 1 Best Bets
Nadia Podoroska -116: Podoroska faces Belinda Bencic right away in what should be an excellent first-round matchup. Bencic is still working her way back to her top-5 form after dealing with countless injury troubles with her feet. I haven’t loved what I’ve seen from her this year — she was lucky to beat Bernarda Pera in Madrid and just lost to Kristina Mladenovic in Rome. This has already moved to -140 at BetMGM, so I would definitely place this early before it moves any further.
Alexander Bublik +202: I mentioned earlier how Medvedev clearly does not like playing on this surface, so why not fade him right away? Meds has lost in the first round of this tournament in four consecutive years, and against a fairly accomplished clay court player like Bublik, I would not be surprised to see that streak run up to five.
Arthur Rinderknech +136: Rinderknech has had an excellent clay-court season thus far. You can’t really say the same for Marin Cilic. Cilic is always more than capable of redlining and making a deep run in majors, but I’ll side with the player who has posted a 105.4% Hold+Break to Cilic’s 97.3% over the last year on clay.
Patricia Maria Tig +580, +5.5 games: Tig represents an extremely tricky matchup for Naomi Osaka in round one. Osaka is clearly the more talented player, however, clay is her worst surface by far, and clay is Tig’s best. In all likelihood, Osaka prevails in two close sets, which makes the games handicap appealing, yet the moneyline odds on Tig are extremely appealing.
Lorenzo Musetti -132: Musetti broke out in Rome last year and has backed that up with his results thus far in 2021. David Goffin’s form is all over the place with an excellent win against Zverev at Monte Carlo and bad losses to Cam Norrie and Federico Delbonis. It’s a real shame Musetti got stuck in the upper half in the bracket. If his place were swapped with Munar, I would have been very interested in taking him at his outright prices.
Moneyline Favorite Parlay Pieces:
Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Marton Fucsovics, Ashleigh Barty, Aljaz Bedene, Andrey Rublev, Pablo Cuevas, Daria Kasatkina, Lorenzo Sonego, Karolina Muchova, all the big favorites over -1000 except Casper Ruud (friends don’t let friends bet Benoit Paire matches).
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