While you’re here, don’t forget to check out my Men’s French Open Preview.
Where the men’s side of this major recently has been completely owned by Rafael Nadal, the women’s side recently has been wide open. Since 2008, only Sharapova and Serena are the only players to have won more than one title (two each) here. Two years ago, Jelena Ostapenko won her first ever WTA title here (as only the second ever player to have their first title be a major) as an unseeded player with 100/1 odds before the tournament.
A wide open field like this tends to mean that there’s value to be found a lot of important matches in the tournament. Let’s go through the quarters and see if we can identify any.
This quarter features the world #1, the GOAT, the 2017 champion, and a ton of really really good young talent. Osaka is the deserved #1, but the clay isn’t her best surface and she got a nigh impossible draw. Assuming she beats Schmiedlova (who won’t be a walkover on clay), she would have to play the winner of Ostapenko (the aforementioned 2017 champ) or Azarenka (who has looked more like her 2012 self this season). Next up should be popular dark horse pick Maria Sakkari. Weirdly, her Round 4 match will probably be against against Garcia/Keys before having to play Barty/Serena/Andreescu in the quarterfinals.
AND YET, I am not sure if I can get away from her price of +1400 to win the French Open. Taking the #1 seed is extremely chalky and there’s some uncertainty with her hand injury and the new coach, but she is the most talented player on the women’s side and is rapidly improving on clay. I have to feel like we’re getting some value here with that uncertainty baked into the line. Plus, it’s pretty easy for me to imagine the narrative of the world #1 winning when the tournament is perceived to be wide open.
I can’t recommend a long shot outright on Ostapenko or Azarenka here. The draw is just as tough for Osaka as it is for them. Sakkari is an interesting bet — her game is well suited for clay and she’s in the best form of her life. If you want to take a stab at her +5000 to win the tournament I wouldn’t blame you. I also like the idea of taking her +1400 to win the quarter, but as I’m already in on Osaka I won’t be backing her myself.
The bottom half of this quarter features Serena, but I refuse to bet on her to win a major again until I see her actually do it. I really, really want to believe in Andreescu in this tournament. She was off to an unbelievable start to the season before having to retire due to a shoulder injury in the round of 16 at Miami. While Andreescu has a limited history on clay, Indian Wells and Miami play closer to clay courts than traditional hard courts Can she recapture the form she had in March where 10 straight matches in those two tournaments? At +6600 to win the French Open, I’m willing to gamble and find out.
Ashleigh Barty made me look very smart in Miami, but I don’t have much interest in taking her on an outright when clay is clearly not her best surface. I do see the merit in the quarterfinal outright purely because the draw she has isn’t nearly as tough as the one in the top half of this bracket
The pick: Osaka def. Andreescu
The draw is also very crowded. If Simona Halep advances through as the seeding dictates, she’ll have earned it. Yet, I also feel that everyone in this bracket is properly priced, so I don’t have any really strong plays. Halep is the tournament favorite at +425 and that feels about right. In all likelihood she will be the 2019 French Open champion.
The one from this bracket I will look to play is Iga Swiatek to win the quarter +2200. Swiatek is a 17-year-old prospect from Poland who won Wimbledon juniors and just made it to the final on clay. She is going to be a big time WTA-level player and I’m just trying to get in early here. I think Halep will be -400 or -500 were they to face each other, at which point I can hedge out and guarantee a profit.
The bottom half of this quarter is also loaded. Kvitova is a top-three player on clay, Kontaveit is in the top 10-15, Buzarnescu is 1) a literal doctor, 2) can be really tricky to play on this surface and 3) beat Svitolina here last year. And I haven’t even mentioned two of the best young talents on the tour in Sabalenka and Anisimova. While this bracket will be among the most fun to watch through the tournament, I just think it’s going to be too tough on everyone to advance through and win the title. Pass.
The pick: Halep def. Kvitova
What to even do with a bracket that has both Sloane Stephens and Garbine Muguruza? Both have the widest range of outcomes in this tournament: lose R1 or win it all. I can’t blame anyone for backing either one of them, but personally I’m going to look elsewhere.
Here’s what I’m going to do: take the other big favorite of this quarter in Kiki Bertens at +800 to win the French Open. She has had the best clay season of any woman so far and is playing the best tennis of her life. A few of these matchups could be tricky including a potential rematch vs Konta (who knocked her out in Rome), but overall I think this draw sets up nice for her.
The Pick: Bertens def. Stephens
I LOVE THIS QUARTER! I think there’s a case to be made for everyone to win it, except maybe Mertens and her bum shoulder. This is an extremely tricky draw for Pliskova between Kuznetsova, Martic and Mladenovic. My feeling on this draw is that by Round 3 most of the seeded players are out and it truly becomes a free for all.
Kerber isn’t great on clay, and that makes Potapova live in Round 1 and the Vondrousova outright extremely live at +4000. However I’m looking for bigger underdogs in a bracket like this, and that means Vondrousova to win the French Open +10000. Vondrousova is an elite clay player and in a wide open quarter like this has a great chance to make a deep run.
The bottom half sets up beautifully for Wozniacki, and anything less than a round of 16 appearance would be extremely disappointing. I can’t back her to win the whole thing, but +1400 to win the quarter feels like insane value for her draw.
Finally, I really like Petra Martic here. Those of you who use our projections here at Awesemo.com know how much of a fan they typically are of her on clay and that is for a reason. When in form she is another elite clay player who is capable of making a deep run. Round 2 vs. Ferro/Mladenovic will be tricky, and of course waiting in round 3 in Pliskova. But at +2200 to win the quarter, she shouldn’t be so big of a dog that we can’t hedge out of it vs Pliskova if necessary.
The pick: Vondrousova def. Martic
Semifinals picks: Halep def. Osaka, Bertens def. Vondrousova
Finals pick: Bertens def. Halep
Outright picks summary
Quarter picks summary
Good luck, everyone!