The 122nd French Open gets under way in Paris this weekend and it looks set to be a wide-open event. With many of the big guns absent, returning from injury, or woefully out of form there could be plenty of upsets over the next fortnight.
Considering 14 seeds fell in the first round at Roland Garros in 2017, there’s plenty of value to be found if you can find the outsiders to back. Here’s your complete betting guide to the first round of the 2018 French Open.
Swiss former champion could face a difficult time in round 1
Twelve months ago, Stan Wawrinka was fighting for his fourth Grand Slam title. The 2015 French Open champion eventually lost last year’s final to Rafa Nadal, but since then has barely won a match and could be one of the major casualties of the opening day.
Wawrinka plays journeyman Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in round one. The 34-year-old may be in the twilight of his career, but this is his 15th consecutive French Open and he did defeat seeded Gilles Muller in the first round twelve months ago.
Stan has lost four of his last five matches, including a crushing defeat to unfancied Hungarian Marton Fucsovics in Geneva last week, and looks horribly out of touch. There’s plenty of value in backing Garcia-Lopez to cause an upset at 5/4.
Viktor Troicki has reached the fourth round at Roland Garros on two occasions and looks an awkward first round opponent for number four seed Grigor Dimitrov. The Bulgarian has lost his last three matches on clay and exited the French Open in the first round in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Dimitrov is the clear favourite but there’s lots of value in backing Troicki at a standout 11/2.
Talented youngster Borna Coric is perhaps a little unlucky not to be seeded in Paris this year having reached a career-high ranking of 28 last month. He’s never lost in the first round at Roland Garros and could pose some problems for number 22 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Coric won the most recent match on clay between the two players although the one question mark may be about his fitness having retired at the Rome Masters a couple of weeks ago. If the Croatian is fully fit he looks decent value at 3/4.
The main seeds look to have a comfortable passage to the later stages. Rafael Nadal should have no major worries against Alexandr Dolgopolov while second seed Alexander Zverev should see off Ricardas Berankis at an unbackable 1/100. Britain’s Kyle Edmund could go far in this tournament and is 2/11 to beat Australian wild card Alex de Minaur and it may also be worth following another British talent.
Cameron Norrie, the British No. 3, had not played a clay-court match until February 2018 but defeated John Isner in Lyon last week to climb into the world’s top 100. Norrie plays Peter Gojowczyk in the first round in Paris and while the German is ranked 50 or so places above the 22-year-old, there will be plenty backing the Brit at 6/5.
2015 and 2016 champions face tricky opening matches
The top half of the draw in the women’s tournament will be looking nervously at the progress of one of the most dangerous unseeded players in recent history: three-time champion Serena Williams. The 36-year old returns to action after several months away and could scarcely have a kinder opening fixture as she faces Krystina Pliskova who has never won a match at Roland Garros.
Williams has proved that she can come into a Grand Slam event without much match practice and walk away with the title, although there surely has to be question marks over her chances here. Pliskova is 13/10 to cause a huge upset.
If you’re looking for another potential upset then the number 3 seed Garbine Muguruza could be an early casualty. The 2016 champion has won just two matches on clay this spring (against players ranked 37 and 50 in the world) and faces a former champion in Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Kuznetsova was seeded 8 at this tournament just a year ago although wrist surgery has hampered her this season. She’s not in great form but she knows her way around Roland Garros and is a tempting outsider at 9/4.
Johanna Konta hasn’t enjoyed a great 2018 so far, losing on clay to players ranked 219 and 97 in successive weeks. The British player did win a couple of matches in Rome before losing in the last 16 to 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko but the number 22 seed is another that could be subject to an upset in the first round.
Konta has lost her first-round match at Roland Garros in each of her previous three visits – she has never won on the Paris clay – and faces Yulia Putintseva who has never lost her opening match in Paris. The 23-year-old Kazakh player reached the quarter-finals at the French Open a couple of years ago and looks excellent value at 9/4 to cause an upset this week.
Simona Halep is the tournament favourite and should beat Alison Riske while I really like the chances of the in-form Petra Kvitova over the next fortnight and she can open with a comfortable win over Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay in round 1.
Two of the dark horses for the tournament get their challenge up and running this weekend. Rome champion Elina Svitolina looks to be in the easier half of the draw and is an excellent each-way bet for the tournament. She should overcome unseeded Australian Alja Tomljanovic at 1/18 while 16th seed Elise Mertens should beat Vervara Lepchenko at 1/6.
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.