Roland Garros 2019: Men’s Singles Preview

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.

Indian Wells Day 9 Tips

Gael Monfils vs Dominic Thiem
Gael Monfils To Win 2-0 @ $2.30

The consistent Gael Monfils lives! He could hardly have been more impressive in his win over Philipp Kohlschreiber, who had just beaten Novak Djokovic, and he is now my pick to win the entire tournament. Dominic Thiem is a player that is generally overrated by the betting market, especially when he isn’t playing on clay, and despite his excellent record against Monfils, I’m backing the Frenchmen to cruise to a straight sets victory. 

 

Karen Khachanov vs Rafael Nadal
Karen Khachanov To Win @ $4.50

Karen Khachanov is a player that I believe has the ability to develop into a top five player and I think that he is over the odds to upset Rafael Nadal at Indian Wells. He has never previously beaten Nadal, but he did take a set off him at the US Open last year and he comes into this clash on the back of a pair of impressive wins over Andrey Rublev and John Isner. He can play at a very-high level on his day and an upset win over Nadal is not out of his range. 

Hubert Hurkacz vs Roger Federer
Roger Federer To Win The 1st Set 6-0 @ $26

How can you take an athlete seriously when his name is Hubert Hurkacz? To be fair to Hurkacz, he has recorded impressive wins over Lucas Pouille, Kei Nishikori and Denis Shapovalov, but none of them are Roger Federer. Federer has been in scintillating form at Indian Wells and the $26 available for him to upstage Hurkacz is well and truly worth a bet. 

Indian Wells Day 8 Tips

Philipp Kohlschreiber vs Gael Monfils
Gael Monfils To Win 2-0 @ $2.10

Here is something that I never thought that I would say – Gael Monfils is becoming the punter’s friend. Monfils’ inconsistency has burnt punters throughout his time on the ATP Tour to date, but his form in 2019 to date has been excellent and the elimination of Novak Djokovic has really opened up his draw at Indian Wells. Philipp Kohlschreiber may have knocked out Djokovic, but his record against Monfils is awful and I am willing to call his last start win a fluke. 

Belinda Bencic vs Karolina Pliskova
Karolina Pliskova To Win @ $2.05

Belinda Bencic has been in excellent form this season and she was nothing short of dominant against Naomi Osaka, but she still shouldn’t go into this clash with Karolina Pliskova as a clear favourite. Pliskova wasn’t at her best in the round of 16, but on her best form she does have a genuine edge over Bencic and the $2.05 currently available is an outstanding bet. 

Venus Williams vs Angelique Kerber
Venus Williams To Win @ $2.65

The Mark Waugh of the tennis world, Venus Williams, still hasn’t retired and she is actually playing some decent tennis at the moment. Angelique Kerber might be one of the most overrated players on the WTA Tour and she is always a risk as favourite – especially when she is playing against somebody with a semblance of talent. There hasn’t been a great deal between these two when they have met in the past and they have split their past four matches with two wins apiece, 

Indian Wells Day 6 Tips

Denis Shapovalov vs Marin Cilic
Maric Cilic To Win 2-0 @ $2.30

Maric Cilic is a very unlikable bloke and I don’t feel great about this tip, but he is obviously a very talented tennis player and he represents great value in this Indian Wells clash with Denis Shapovalov. Cilic flogged Shapovalov when they met at Basel last year and I think that the Canadian is a player that is a touch overrated based on what he has achieved during his tennis career to date. I expect Cilic to cruise to victory and he is great value to win in straight sets. 

Stan Wawrinka vs Roger Federer
Roger Federer To Win @ $1.80

There is apparently no love lost between these former best friends these days, Roger Federer didn’t take kindly to Stan Wawrinka ditching his wife for Donna Vekic, and there could be a bit of spice in this clash. Federer has won 21 of their 24 previous meetings and he has won four of their past five matches in straight sets. Wawrinka is not the player that he once was, I blame Vekic, and a straight set win does seem likely for Federer. 

Radu Albot vs Kyle Edmund
Radu Albot To Win @ $3.10

Radu Albot is playing in career best form and this former plodder qualified for Indian Wells after going all the win at the Delray Beach Open. Kyle Edmund has had a very poor start to the season and he was knocked out in the first round at both the Brisbane International and the Australian Open. I am more than happy to take him on at his current form and I am confident that the pride of Moldova can continue on his winning ways. 

Indian Wells Day 5 Tips

Hubert Hurkacz vs Lucas Pouille
Lucas Pouille To Win @ $1.85

I am not afraid to call-out our bookies when I think that they have gotten a price wrong and this is definitely one of those occasions.  The fact that almost even-money is available for Lucas Pouille to beat Hubert Hurkacz is a big surprise and it is one of the best bets of the tournament at Indian Wells to date.  Hurkacz is a plodder and Pouille is finally starting to live-up to the potential that he showed as a younger player following his deep run at the Australian Open. 

Feliciano Lopez vs Karen Khachanov
Feliciano Lopez To Win @ $3.25

Both Felicaino Lopez and Karen Khachanov are two players that do struggle for consistency and in a match like this one, I am always keen to side with the underdog. There is no doubt that Lopez is past his prime, but he is still capable of a strong effort on his day and Khachanov has had a fairly poor start to the season after making it the third round of the Australian Open.

Marton Fucsovics vs Stan Wawrinka
Marton Fucsovics @ $2.85

Stan Wawrinka may be the worst player ever to win three Grand Slam tournaments and punters that take him on as favourite on a regular basis are absolutely swimming in the cash. When you think of tennis, you generally don’t think of the country of Hungary, but Marton Fucsovics has put together a fairly handy record in recent years and it took a firing Roger Federer to knock him out in Dubai a couple of weeks ago. Wawrinka is no Federer and Fucovics is great value at his current odds. 

Indian Wells Day 4 Tips

Nicolas Jarry vs Francis Tiafoe
Nicolas Jarry @ $3

Francis Tiafoe is the American version of Nick Kyrgios, but he just isn’t anywhere nearly as good. He is flashy and he does play an exciting brand of tennis, but consistency is definitely not a strength and his motivation does lack at time. Nicolas Jarry is hardly a big name and he is not star in his own right, but he has put together a decent record and I am happy to take a gamble with him at his current odds of $3

Tennys Sandgren vs Adrian Mannarino
Tennys Sandgren @ $2

Tennys Sandgren has some awful opinions and he is definitely not a good bloke, but he is a decent tennis player and it is something of a surprise that he will not go into this clash with Adrian Mannarino as a clear favourite. Mannarino is a player that is constantly overrated by the market and the fact of the matter is that he simply isn’t very good. His serve is nowhere near as strong as it once was and I actually think that Sandgren is a pretty safe bet at the current odds. 

Indian Wells Day 1 Tips

Marius Copil vs Radu Albot, 4am
Marius Copil To Win @ $2.65

This is a real battle between tennis powerhouses Andorra and Moldova. Radu Albot will start this Indian Wells clash as a short-priced favourite after he recorded a shock win at the Delray Beach Open, but I couldn’t get him this short if he was play a 40-year-old Lleyton Hewitt. Marius Copil is not the most consistent player in the world, but he did beat Stan Wawrinka at the Sofia Open and he is a great bet at the current price.

Ernests Gulbis vs Alex Bolt, 4am
Alex Bolt To Win @ $2.10

Ernests Gulbis is a punters worst nightmare. He wins when you don’t expect him to and loses when he takes on a plodder. Thankfully, Alex Bolt is something of a plodder and I think that the Aussie can continue his strong Australian Open form at Indian Wells. Taking on Gulbis when he is favourite is always a positive play and it makes it even more enjoyable that he is taking on an Australian.

Daniel Evans vs Stan Wawrinka, 4am
Daniel Evans To Win @ $2.75

Stan Wawrinka may be a three-time Grand Slam winner, but I’m fairly confident that he has completely lost it. He has become something of a Gulbis type and I am always happy to take him on when he starts as favourite. Daniel Evans is coming off a very impressive run to the Delray Beach Open Finals and he has the type of game that can compete with top 20 players, when he is fit and firing.

Sunday 27 January, 2019

Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal, 7:30 pm (Channel 9 Network)

After what was at times a lacklustre Australian Open, the Final involves the two best players in the tournament so far. The #1 and #2 seeds Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have been in excellent form of late, dropping a combined 2 sets to reach the Final. After surprise early defeats to names like Federer, Zverev, Anderson, and Cilic, both of these men had relatively easy runs to this point. This should make for another excellent encounter between these two, with both players very well rested. Let’s take a look at our best bets on offer in this Aus Open Men’s Final preview.

Novak Djokovic

The Djoker enters the Final in fantastic form, dropping a mere two sets all tournament. He has made relatively light work of established players like Tsonga, Shapovalov, Medvedev, Nishikori, and Pouille. His first serve has been outstanding of late, winning 85% of first serve points over his last 2 matches. The clinical display he put out against Pouille in the Semi-Finals show just how good his form is. Nadal will no doubt he his toughest test so far, however the Djoker is listed as a deserving $1.74 favourite.

Rafael Nadal

Rafa has also had a very impressive run to reach the Final, not dropping a set all tournament. In fact, he was only pushed to one tie-break through his 6 matches. He was incredibly clinical against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Semis, dropping only 6 games for the entire match. Likewise, he was dominant against several established ATP players in De Minaur, Berdych, and Tiafoe beforehand. Having not really been tested all tournament, he may struggle out of the gate against Novak. Priced at $2.15, he definitely has every chance at the upset.

Best Bets
Djokovic to win $1.74

Despite a solid recent run from Nadal, I think Novak is the better player in this matchup. He has been in absolutely phenomenal form for the past 6 months, winning Wimbledon and the US Open in the process. Novak’s elite return ability should prove troublesome for Nadal and I expect him to put some pressure on the Nadal serve. Similarly, with the way Novak is serving of late, Rafa could have a tough time breaking. Especially in the best of 5 sets format, I think $1.74 is strong value for Djokovic.

Over 41.5 Games

Whilst I’m confident in a Novak win, I’m sure that Rafa will at least make things competitive. Should this go at least 4 sets, I’m relatively confident in a couple of long sets and potential tie-breaks between these two. It was tough to split them in an epic 2012 final, which could definitely be the case again here. Both players are well rested and will assuredly give everything they have on that court. Expect a longer match that ultimately goes over.

Value Bet: Djokovic 3-1 at $4.30

For a bit of extra value, I think Novak 3-1 looks very tasty at $4.30. I’d be surprised if he gets it done in 3 sets at $4.25 and think there’s enough of a talent edge right now to prevent a 5-setter. At a very reasonable $4.30, Djokovic 3-1 appears to be the best set betting option.

Saturday January 26, 2019

Naomi Osaka vs Petra Kvitova, 7:30 pm
Kvitova to Win $1.74

Naomi Osaka

Osaka continued her excellent winning streak with a solid 3-set win over Karolina Pliskova in the Semi-Finals. Unlike Kvitova, Naomi has been forced to go to three sets in 3 of her last 4 matches. In that run, she’s managed very impressive wins over Hsieh, Sevastova, Svitolina, and Pliskova. Her serve was yet again on point in her Semi-Final, serving a very strong 15 aces. Having won the US Open in August, she’ll be looking to add to her collection here.

Petra Kvitova

Petra Kvitova has had an incredible run to the Aus Open Final, yet to drop a set all tournament. In fact, the only time she was even pushed to a tie-break was against Danielle Collins, who she then bagelled in the 2nd set. Impressive wins over Ash Barty, Belinda Bencic, and Irina Begu highlight her quality run to this point. Consistently winning upwards of 70% of points on her first serve, she’ll need to be at her best here against her toughest opponent.

Prediction: Kvitova to win $1.74

Whilst I think these two players are of very similar ability, Kvitova is much less likely to make a key mistake. Given what she’s been through of late, I expect her to be incredibly motivated to take her first Australian Open crown. She also has a notable rest advantage on Osaka, having not been pushed to 3 sets all tournament. At $1.74, I expect us to see Petra lifting the trophy come Saturday Night.

Kontinen/Peers vs Mahut/Herbert, Sunday 4 pm
Mahut/Herbert at $1.65

Kontinen/Peers

Aussie John Peers and partner Henry Kontinen have been formidable on the Doubles circuit for years. Their strong run has continued in the 2019 Aus Open, not dropping a set to reach the final. They enjoyed a signature victory in the Quarters, defeating #3 seed Bruno Soares and Jamie Murray. Despite not being great Singles players, their excellent net play makes them a formidable doubles duo.

Mahut/Herbert

The #5 seeded French duo also enjoyed a very impressive run to the final, only dropping 2 sets all tournament. This included solid wins over the #4 seed Bryan brothers, as well as a win over Querrey and Harrison in the Semis. Having had immense success in previous Grand Slams and as part of the French Davis Cup team, you won’t find many better doubles duos on tour.

Prediction: Mahut/Herbert $1.65

Whilst I’d love to back the Aussie John Peers here, I think the duo of Mahut and Herbert will prove just too much. Both of these duos are very experienced playing together, put Mahut and Herbert have a noticeable edge on serve. I expect their strong groundstroke ability to match up well with the net-focused Kontinen. At a price of $1.65, I think they win this one relatively comfortably.

Friday January 25, 2019

best bet
Novak Djokovic vs Lucas Pouille, 7 pm
Under 31.5 Games

Novak Djokovic

Djokovic enters the Semi-Finals very well rested after Kei Nishikori retired in just the second set of their Quarter Final. Novak looked in fine form early on however, winning 10 of the first 12 games in the match. He was somewhat tested by tough 4-setters against Shapovalov and Medvedev, however you have to imagine he’ll be too much for Pouille on current form.

Lucas Pouille

Pouille continues to be one of the main surprises of the 2019 Aus Open, this time registering a 4-set win over Milos Raonic in the Quarters. He won 83% of his first serve points and managed 3 crucial breaks on the Raonic serve in an impressive upset. Overcoming #11 seed Borna Coric in the fourth round and beating Alex Popyrin in front of a raucous crowd in the 3rd round was also very impressive.

Prediction: Under 31.5 Games

I’ve had immense success backing Pouille this tournament, but this is where his run ends for me. Novak is a dreadful matchup for him, and I just don’t see how he gets going offensively here. With a potential final against Nadal or Tsitsipas looming, expect Novak to get the job done quickly here as he looks to rest up.

Stosur/Zhang vs Babos/Mladenovic, 4 pm
Stosur/Zhang at $2.65

Stosur/Zhang

Despite a relatively storied Singles career, not much has been made of Sam Stosur’s very successful doubles career. She’s partnered with China’s Zhang Shuei for another successful Australian Open campaign, this time reaching the Final. They’ve lost only 1 set through 5 matches so far, defeating the #8 and #1 seeds in the process. They enter this one as heavy underdogs against the #2 seed Babos and Mladenovic duo.

Babos/Mladenovic

Both quality Single’s players in their own right, Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic have also formed a very successful doubles pairing. They’ve also had a very impressive run to the Final, losing just 1 set throughout their 5 matches. This included impressive straight set wins over the #9 and #13 seeds. The very strong serves of these two women make them heavy favourites here.

Prediction: Stosur/Zhang $2.65

Women’s doubles in particular can be quite unpredictable and I’m calling for the upset here. Stosur and Zhang have experience on this stage and will no doubt have the support of the home crowd. Having comfortably disposed of the #1 seeds earlier, I think their strong net play will prove too much here as they claim the outright win.