The French Open at Stade Roland Garros is one of the highlights of the tennis year, a feast of top-class on-court action in front of a knowledgeable and passionate Parisian crowd.
The only Grand Slam event to be played on clay, the French Open is known for the length of its rallies and the high-bouncing, spin-heavy style of play that tends to favor hard-hitting baseliners. Last year’s tournament saw history created when Rafael Nadal became the first player in the Open Era to land ten titles at the same Grand Slam, while Jeļena Ostapenko stunned the tennis world with a thrilling title charge, propelled by her lethal forehand.
Which players will be favorites for glory this year? Sports betting fans will be keenly studying the outright markets for the tournament as spring progresses, and anyone contemplating a bet on the French Open this year will have to consider the following names.
The most successful clay-court player of all time, Nadal, like his great rival Roger Federer, continues to defy those who predict his decline, and his triumph at Roland-Garros last year was achieved in impressive style. If he turns up in France in reasonable shape, he will be the big favorite, but the hip and thigh injuries that have caused him to pull out of several tournaments this year suggest that he might be vulnerable.
Federer’s late-career resurgence, which has enabled him to add three Grand Slam titles in the last two years, has been based around picking and choosing his tournaments. Though he won the French Open in 2009, clay is his least favourite surface, and he skipped Roland-Garros altogether in 2016 and 2017, preferring to focus on Wimbledon. However, Nadal’s injury problems may tempt Federer to have another crack at Roland-Garros, and if he decides to go for it, there aren’t too many players around to beat him at the moment.
The absence of Williams for much of last season left the main WTA events wide open and three different women lifted Grand Slam trophies – Ostapenko, Sloane Stephens and Garbiñe Muguruza. Serena is back but way short of her best form, and she was knocked out by her sister Venus at Indian Wells. Williams is likely to start as favorite at Roland-Garros, but like Federer, it has been her least successful Grand Slam event, and the gruelling nature of top-class clay-court play could prove too demanding at this stage of her comeback.
Halep is likely to be at the top of antepost betting lists for the French Open, and though she has yet to claim a Grand Slam title, she will surely put that right sooner rather than later. Two of her three Grand Slam finals have come at Roland-Garros, and the hard-hitting Romanian is the most likely player to capitalize if Serena is not at her best.
Whether Nadal and Williams underline their dominance at Roland-Garros, or a surprise contender such as Ostapenko emerges to make a challenge, this year’s French Open promises to be a thrilling tournament that all tennis fans will be looking forward to.