An exciting ATP clay court season will culminate with the always enjoyable French Open over the next fortnight. Rafael Nadal opens as the firm $2.10 favourite yet again, with Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem close behind at $3.25 and $5.50 respectively. The enigmatic Nick Kyrgios represents the best Aussie hope, currently sitting at $81. Let’s take a look at some of the top contenders to take home this year’s crown.
Rafael Nadal $2.10
While Nadal enters the French Open off a relatively solid clay court season, he wasn’t anywhere near his best. He made the semi-finals of all 4 major clay tournaments, but only ended up winning 1 of them. Fortunately, he saved his best for last, beating Novak Djokovic in 3 sets to take out the Italian Open last time out. Nadal was absolutely clinical all tournament, steamrolling his opponents and dropping just 1 set. Despite having declined somewhat of late, Nadal still has 11 Roland Garros titles to his name, including the last 2.
Novak Djokovic $3.25
While Novak started the season on fire at the Australian Open, he has struggled to reclaim that form of late. He admittedly did win the Madrid Open a fortnight ago but was somewhat fortunate that he didn’t come up against Nadal. He fought valiantly against Nadal in Rome in what was a potential preview of the Final, ultimately falling in 3. Having only won 1 French Open title, this is looming as one of his best opportunities to add to that count.
Dominic Thiem $5.50
Few players have had more success against the Big 4 than Dominic Thiem, largely due to his impressive clay court form. Thiem has had a solid clay court season so far, defeating Nadal in straight sets en route to the Barcelona title. Consistency still appears to be an issue, with losses to Lajovic and Verdasco just unacceptable for a player of his talent. With a relatively weak draw this year, I think he has a good shot at a Semi-Final appearance at least.
Roger Federer $19
While clay certainly isn’t his preferred surface, you can rest assured that Roger will give it his best shot in Paris. He played just 2 clay tournaments this season, losing to Dominic Thiem in Madrid before retiring against Tsitsipas in Rome. His recent success at Roland Garros isn’t that inspiring, missing the last 3 events and not reaching a final since 2011. Unless the draw opens up for him, I think it’ll be tough going for Roger against either Nadal or Djokovic.
Nick Kyrgios $81
Everyone’s favourite Aussie returned from a brief hiatus to take part in the clay court season. It wasn’t all that fruitful for him, losing in the opener to Jan Lennard Struff in Madrid, before defaulting against Casper Ruud last time out. That said, at his best, he is still capable of beating anyone on tour, evidenced by his win in Mexico despite a week of partying. Given his controversial interview last week, I’m sure we’d all love to see him beat Novak just to do his celebration in front of him.
Best Bet: Nadal $2.10
In what is a relatively weak crop, it’s tough to look past Nadal at better than even money. He sports an impeccable 86-2 singles record at Roland Garros, having won 7 of the last 8 tournaments when healthy. He looked relatively spry throughout the clay court season, making me think injuries won’t be a concern either. I expect him to make light work of his early opponents, giving him the necessary energy to dispose of the big boys late on.