Upsets predicted in second Grand Slam event of the year.
Over the last few years, the men’s tournament at the French Open has been something of a one-man show. Rafael Nadal has dominated at Roland Garros – but this year could be different. Beaten on clay in the run-up to the tournament and with a strong batch of young players rising up the rankings, this could be a year of upsets in Paris.
The women’s tournament is always hard to call and this year looks like being no exception. Keep reading for our preview of all the action from the 2014 French Open.
New name on the trophy in 2014?
It’s an astonishing fact but bears repeating: Rafael Nadal has only lost one match on the clay at Roland Garros in his career. His 2009 quarter final defeat to Robin Soderling is the only time he has been beaten at the French Open and this year the Spaniard is gunning for his ninth title, and his fifth in a row.
However, his title as King of Clay has never been more under threat. Nadal has suffered recent clay court defeats to fellow Spaniards Nicolas Almagro and David Ferrer while he was lucky to take the Madrid title after an injury to opponent Kei Nishikori when behind in the final.
Nadal is a worthy 13/10 favourite in the ATP French Open odds but perhaps this won’t be his year.
Despite an average record at Roland Garros, it could be the year that Novak Djokovic completes his career Grand Slam. The Serb beat Nadal on clay in the Rome final this month to add to his Indian Wells and Miami titles in 2014 and is 6/4 to win his first French Open.
Djokovic has reached the final on just one occasion – in 2012 – and has lost at the semi-final stage on four occasions but this could well be his year.
Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka has won a major clay court tournament this year and, having risen to a career-high third in the world rankings, could be a man to watch at 6/1. Roger Federer is a previous French Open champion and can be backed at 14/1 while coach-less Briton Andy Murray is a 24/1 shot (we fancy some of that!).
If you’re looking to back an outsider then 19/1 chance Kei Nishikori could be one to follow. The Japanese number one has reached two clay court finals on the Tour this year – winning in Barcelona – and is the form man on clay.
An eighth different winner in eight years?
The French Open is generally a tournament that is wide open as far as the women are concerned with seven different players winning the title in the last seven years.
Last year’s champion Serena Williams is the 6/5 favourite in the betting for the WTA title and is bidding to be the first woman to retain the French Open title since Justine Henin in 2007. On paper she is a worthy favourite, although her record at Roland Garros is surprisingly patchy.
Before winning the title in 2013 it had been ten years since Williams had reached the final in Paris and she progressed no further than the quarter-finals between 2003 and 2012. Having missed some recent matches through injury the 6/5 doesn’t look very generous.
We prefer the chances of 2011 champion Li Na. The 32 year old won the Australian Open in January and has a 20-6 win/loss record at Roland Garros. She’s a tough competitor – a good quality on clay – and could go very well at 5/1.
Ana Ivanovic is twice a finalist at Roland Garros and has climbed up the world rankings after a lean couple of years. She beat Serena Williams at the Australian Open on her way to the last eight and won her first WTA title since 2011 when she beat Venus Williams in Auckland. Now 12th in the world, Ivanovic could go well at 16/1.
Sara Errani has a good recent record at Roland Garros, reaching the final in 2012 and the semi-final last year. She also reached the women’s doubles final in Paris in the last two years. The 27 year old Italian is a clay court specialist and offers decent each way value at 33/1.
The French Open begins in Paris’ Roland Garros this Sunday, 25th May in what promises to be an enthralling opener to the Summer tennis schedule and should give us a few pointers ahead of Wimbledon when we revert to grass courts in June and July.