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After a thrilling and unusual U.S. Open, tennis fans now get to their attention to a late fall French Open at Roland Garros. The French Open will look a little different this year with a recently installed retractable roof, upgraded night matches, and the tournament will be played during the fall for the first time.
The change to autumn weather in exchange for the hot Paris summers will, for sure, be a difference for the players. This makes this tournament way more unpredictable than others in the past. The men's side is headlined by Rafael Nadal, who is looking to win his 13th French Open title.
Without further ado, here is a breakdown of the contenders and my favorite bet, but before we get there, just a quick reminder: If you do want to throw a few bucks down on either French Open title odds or just individual matches, make sure to do so at MyBookie. If you use the promo code "TORRES" first time users will double their deposit. Meaning, you want to throw $50 on Rafael Nadal to win it all, MyBookie will give you $100 to play with. It's the best deal going in sports betting right now.
Seed: No. 3
Thiem has been clutch this year, winning 71.3 percent of his games during deciding sets. His return game has been magnificent, with 64.2 percent of his breaks points saved and winning 30 percent of his points on first serve returns. He has also taken advantage of second serves, winning those at a 50 percent clip. It's by and far the best form he has been in during his career.
And after numerous finals appearances, Thiem finally secured his first Grand Slam victory, taking the U.S. Open earlier this month. He is 16-5 on the year and is coming off a U.S Open Championship on a hurt Achilles. With a couple of weeks of rest, Thiem should be ready to go for the French Open, and could make some noise. Remember, he finished runner-up to Nadal in both the 2018 and 2019 events. Thiem is playing with extreme confidence, and he is very comfortable playing on clay .
If there was a negative for Thiem, it's that he gets the toughest draw of the big three. He is on the same side of the bracket as Nadal, and he has to deal with several young phenoms in his quarter. Hell, he has to play former Grand Slam champion Maric Cilic in his opening match. Even if he gets by Cilic, Thiem will like likely also have to deal with No. 9 seed Denis Shapovalov (more on him coming) and No. 16 seed Stan Wawrinka. Thiem has an opportunity to go one of the most dramatic runs in tennis history if he is able to overcome this gauntlet.
Tennis is desperately seeking another star to provide competition to Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic and the 27-year-old Thiem is the man to do that. It's hard to pick against Nadal and Djovakic in a Grand Slam, but Thiem deserves some love at +400. If he can make it through the first few rounds 100 percent healthy, Thiem has a great shot at winning the tournament.
Djookovic is coming off a win at the Italian Open after a brutal ejection ended his run in the U.S Open in the Round of 16. Novak dominated the Italian Open, dropping just one set during his five wins in the event. Djokovic's win in Rome proved huge, earning him the No. 1 seed at Roland Garros.
Djokovic gets the most favorable draw of the big three avoiding Nadal and Thiem until the final. The biggest tests on Djokovic's side of the bracket will be No. 4 seed Daniil Medvedev and No. 5 seed Stefan Tsitsipas, both of whom Djokovic has had major success against. Playing indoors for at least some of the tournament will also give a slight boost to the Serbian as well. Djokovic excels on the clay, ranking second in return rating on the surface.
It's also worth noting that the French Open is switching to the Wilson ball. This is a significant change. The Wilson ball is a deader ball that doesn't bounce as high, especially in the colder weather. The x-factor for Djokovic is the drop shot that he has implemented over the last few tournaments. Drop shots are more effective on clay since the ball dies on the surface.
Novak has really been unstoppable since the COVID restart, with his sole loss coming in his disqualification at the U.S. Open.
There are the three guarantees in life: Death, taxes, and Nadal winning the French Open. Nadal has been dominant at Roland Garros over the course of his career - he is basically Alabama football times 1000 at this event. Only three other tennis players have won the French Open since Nadal has turned pro. Will the 34-year-old extend his dominance with a 13th championship at the event?
Remember, Nadal skipped the U.S. Open altogether, and made his debut following the restart two weeks ago at the Italian Open. He won in straight sets against Pablo Carreno Busta and Dusan Lajovic, but struggled in the quarterfinal against Diego Schwartzman. Nadal struggled with his serves and was not able to convert on his potential forehand winners. Nadal also had nagging knee issues at the beginning of 2020, and there are certainly question marks as to whether the 34-year-old has fully recovered.
Also, as silly as it seems, the change of tennis balls is a major blow to Nadal. Here is what Nadal had to say on the change of the ball;
"The organizers need to take a look on that for the next couple of years, for the health of the players too, because the ball super heavy becomes dangerous for the elbow and the shoulders."
In defense of the organizers, the Wilson ball absorbs less moisture and is more durable, but they will also travel a lot slower on the clay surface. With the colder weather being an added factor, this French Open will be a lot different than the previous 12 Roland Garros tournaments Nadal has dominated.
Looking ahead, Nadal really only has one realistic challenger before a meetup with Thiem in the semis - he is currently slated for a potential matchup with U.S. Open runner up Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinal.
Because of it, Nadal deserves to be an overwhelming favorite at Roland Garros despite the new conditions. He has only dropped six total sets in his career at the French Open, and he has saved 70 percent of his breakpoints, which is ridiculous. It has nearly been impossible to break Nadal's serve at French Open over the course of his entire career.
Getting plus money on Nadal actually holds some value.
I am not impressed with Nadal's current form, but you can't go wrong taking Nadal at Roland Garros.
The pick: Novak Djokovic (+210)
While there is value on Nadal, the Djoker is the best tennis player in the world right now. He is playing pissed off following his U.S. Open disqualification, and he is on a mission. He gets an easy draw to the semifinal, and the weather plays into his style of play. Djokovic has had recent success against Nadal, winning seven out of his last 11 against the Spaniard. Djokovic's game is underrated on clay, and he has the second-best return rating.
Djokovic has the most versatile game and getting the best tennis player in the world at +210 is tremendous value.
The Value Underdog: Denis Shapovalov
It is hard to imagine a scenario where neither Thiem, Djokovic, or Nadal don't win the French Open. The U.S. Open was the first time since 2016 where the Grand Slam Champion wasn't named Federer, Djokovic, or Nadal. It was also the first time none of them made it to the quarterfinal. This has given a chance for tennis's young talent to shine. Shapovalov has taken full advantage. He is coming off back-to-back semifinal appearances in the U.S and Italian Open. He lost both semifinal matches in heartbreaking fashion in the final game-defining set.
At Roland Garros he gets a favorable draw, facing players he has historical success against, including a potential fourth-round meeting with world No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas should they advance that far. Shapovalov has won three of four career meetings with the 22-year-old Greek.
The 21-year-old Canadian is one of the games most emerging stars and is perfect for the French Open. He possesses elite quickness and athleticism to play short balls on a slow court. He also has the fitness and composure to win long rallies, which is a must at Roland Garros. Shapovalov has been relentless defending breakpoints on clay, converting 38.6 percent of them. If he can improve on his inconsistent 57 percent first-serve percentage, Shapovalov can take his game to an entirely new level.
Shapovalov is a grinder who can pull off a few upsets Roland Garros. I'm not saying he is a guaranteed winner, but I think he has a decent value at 100/1, here it's worth throwing a few nickels on him. Mybookie has offered generous odds for the young Canadian who is being shopped at 75/1 at other markets.
And remember, if you do want to throw a few bucks down on either French Open title odds or just individual matches, make sure to do so at MyBookie. If you use the promo code "TORRES" first time users will double their deposit. Meaning, you want to throw $50 on Rafael Nadal to win it all, MyBookie will give you $100 to play with. It's the best deal going in sports betting right now.