The clay court season all leads to one place: Paris. The French Open is the second Grand Slam of the calendar year as the schedule ramps up, leading us into Wimbledon later in the summer.
Roland Garros welcomes Rafael Nadal, who is looking to win his 12th French Open title after defeating Novak Djokovic in the Italian Open last Sunday. Without further ado, let's look at both the Men’s tournament and the Women’s tournament...
French Open 2019: Men's Draw
Nadal is unsurprisingly the French Open favourite in 888’s sports betting odds, sitting at 11/10 to make it 12.
It was vintage Nadal in Rome, defeating Djokovic 6-0 in the first set and battling his way to a three-set victory against his Serbian nemesis. He’s looking to make it three in a row at Roland Garros, an accomplishment he has achieved twice before.
The clay court season hasn’t been without fault for the 11-time champion, however.
Semi-final losses to Fabio Fognini, Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas in Monaco, Barcelona and Madrid are a concern, and suggest a weakness we have seldom seen from Nadal at this time of year.
The victory over Djokovic erased those slip ups from the memory, though, and the emphatic 6-3, 6-4 win against Tsitsipas in Rome was significant in Nadal’s final tournament before heading to Paris.
Djokovic, the 2016 French Open champion, bounced back after the first set embarrassment against Nadal. He boasts the most clay court wins against the dominant Spaniard but has still lost 17 of their 24 meetings on the surface.
Ranked number one in the world, and having won the last two Grand Slams, there is no reason for Djokovic to fear anyone in the draw, including Nadal.
He showed great form in Madrid, not dropping a set and beating Tsitsipas and Thiem along the way. Three-set victories over Juan Martin del Potro and Diego Schwartzman were good preparation for the marathon of a Grand Slam fortnight.
The Serbian is back to his very best. If anyone can go toe-to-toe with peak Nadal at Roland Garros, it’s Djokovic. His 5/2 price is one of the leading French Open tips.
Thiem lost the final to Nadal last season, and is yet to deliver on his obvious Grand Slam winning potential.
There’s plenty of time for the 25-year-old, though, and he’s already placed himself as the best outside the big two.
Priced at 6/1 to win his first Grand Slam, Thiem will be a popular option in the French Open betting markets. Clay is his favoured service, and his game is well-suited.
A round of 32 loss to Fernando Verdasco in Rome was a setback, but we saw exactly what the Austrian is capable of in Barcelona, as he won the tournament without dropping a set, emphatically winning the clincher 6-0 against Daniil Medvedev.
In a similar situation to Thiem, Alexander Zverev has been touted as a Grand Slam winner for several years, and is at his best on clay, but faces the unenviable task of finding a way past Nadal and/or Djokovic.
Zverev is a powerful player from the baseline, capable of chasing down balls that someone at 6’6” should not be able to. His big serve plays even on the slower clay.
Way out at 40/1, the towering German seems like good value for a few pennies – he certainly has the talent, even if his Grand Slam performances have been disappointing so far.
Entertainer and Australian Open semi-finalist Tsitsipas is a shorter price than Zverev at 20/1. Having defeated Nadal and Thiem in the build-up, he will be full of confidence as ever, but unforced errors remain a concern.
Minimising the ambitious groundstrokes is key for the 20-year-old. His price is good value but getting the better of Nadal and/or Djokovic might be a step too far. Tsitsipas has the talent, though, and we know how much he loves the big stage.
Last, and most certainly not least, is the great Roger Federer. Returning to the clay courts, Federer is as much of an outsider as he will ever be for a tournament, priced at 33/1.
Keeping up with the physical demands of clay, and finding his best game again on the surface, is a huge ask, but if anyone can do it…
As the odds suggest, the men’s draw will most likely come down to if Djokovic can stop Nadal.
French Open 2019: Women's Draw
Reigning champion Simona Halep tops the Women’s French Open betting at 9/2 to make it back-to-back titles. Halep has thrived on the Roland Garros clay, making the final in 2014 and 2017 before going all the way in 2018.
The Romanian suffered a disappointing defeat to Marketa Vondrousova in Rome, however. The clay court season hasn’t been brilliant for Halep, though she defeated Belinda Bencic and Ashleigh Barty in Madrid before losing to Kiki Bertens in the final.
Bertens has an underwhelming 11-7 record at the French Open, but she is capable of much more.
She followed victory in Madrid with a trip to the last four in Rome, falling to Johanna Konta in a three-set battle. Perhaps the form pick of the draw, Bertens is worth considering at 9/1.
Naomi Osaka lost to Bertens in Madrid and has not had the best time on clay. It’s her least favourite surface, but it’s impossible to overlook the 21-year-old considering her record in Grand Slams.
You have to go back to Wimbledon last year for her last Grand Slam defeat – her 14/1 price will attract plenty of bettors.
Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova follow Osaka at 15/1. Kvitova’s comeback has been one of sports great tales, but a calf injury in the Madrid Open might force her to miss Roland Garros.
The 15/1 price is obviously a big risk considering the injury, but if healthy, there’s no doubt Kvitova could lift the trophy and she could be a lucrative tennis betting option.
Pliskova has not had the best of times at the French Open, owning a 9-7 career record.
The 2017 semi-finalist is developing as a clay court player, however, and her victory against Konta in the final in Rome has shortened her price. The 15/1 odds aren’t great despite her recent success.
Last year’s runner-up Sloane Stephens is currently 16/1 to win her second Grand Slam. Stephens showed in the first set of last year’s final that she can unplayable on the clay.
Consistency is always a concern for the 26-year-old American, but after failing to make it past the last 16 previously, last season was a real breakthrough. Her preparation has been sub-par, though, including a round of 32 defeat to Konta in Madrid.
Serena Williams has only played two clay court matches this season, winning one and losing the other to her sister Venus. The three-time champion is lurking at 20/1. Would anyone bet against her?
The women’s draw, compared to the Nadal and Djokovic dominance of the men’s, is wide open. Halep will get a lot of backing to defend her title, but there’s a case to be made for at least 10 different people.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*