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French Open Preview

french openFRENCH OPEN 2016:

2015 was a spectacular year for both the World No.1’s.

Serena was on course to win her 4th Grandslam of the year but lost to the veteran Roberta Vinci in a thrilling semi-final at Flushing Meadows. Djokovic, on the other hand, won 3 Grandslams and lost only in the finale at Roland Garros to a breathtaking performance from Stanislas Wawrinka.

While Serena lost in the final of the Australian Open earlier this year, Novak has looked almost unbeatable for the majority of the season and is going for his 2nd Grand Slam of the year after beating Murray at the Australian Open.

Will the Serbian be able to finally break the jinx this time around at Paris?

A brief look at the possible challenges both the World No.1’s may face in this year’s French Open…

WOMENS:

Favourites:

Serena, Halep and Azarenka

No doubt about who should be the favourite for this tournament as Serena Williams has simply been the most consistent WTA player since early 2015. However, it is worth noting that Serena has a much tougher draw with Azarenka in the same quarter and Kerber possibly being her semi-final opponent.

Azarenka’s clay court form isn’t that great having lost to Begu recently at Rome. Still, if she plays her best, the Belarusian could surprise many pundits.

Halep’s form is quite impressive winning the Madrid Open title beating the likes of Bacsinszky, Stosur and Cibulkova. On paper, I feel she’s a good enough bet to reach at least the quarter-finals.

Decent Outsiders:

Muguruza and Kerber

Muguruza is not in Serena’s side of the draw and has put on very good performances in past French Opens. If she can get past Halep, there is reason to believe she could end up being a major threat to Serena, especially after she beat the American 6-2 6-2 back in 2014.

Kerber has a 26:8 win record for this season which includes two titles, the big one being Australian Open. I don’t think she will be able to make it 2 in a row, but it’s fair to say that the German never gives up without a fight.

Dark Horses:

Suarez Navarro, Konta, Kasatkina and Bacsinszky are all very good players to watch. Unfortunately I am forced to avoid all of them as they fall in Serena’s side of the draw.

The best Dark Horses therefore for me would be Safarova, Radwanska and Stephens.
Safarova was last year’s runner up to Serena and her form has picked up in the past few weeks making this a decent bet at odds of 50 on Betfair Exchange.

Choosing Radwanska as a Dark Horse as her overall form this year has been quite impressive with 21 wins and 6 losses. If she can serve decent enough, there is reason to believe in a Polish surprise at Paris.

Stephens is one of the most talented girls in WTA mainly because of her serve and power. Simply put, she’s like a junior version of Serena. Always improving, I think she would be my best tip in the DARK HORSE category.

PREDICTION:

The French is Serena’s least favourite Grandslam. However, with the opportunity to tie Steffi Graf’s open era record of titles at 22, I have to back the American winning this year’s French Open especially with no Maria Sharapova to worry about.

Odds of 3.5 on the Betfair Outrights could easily fall in the coming days!

Serena Williams to win the French Open Womens title this year!

MENS:

Favourites:

Djokovic, Nadal and Murray

Winning at Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and also the Australian Open title, Novak Djokovic has had an amazing ‘37 win : 3 loss’ record so far in 2016. The obvious favourite for Roland Garros!

Murray is one of the three players to beat Djokovic this season and it happened only a week ago at Rome on clay. Agreeing that he should be the 2nd favourite.

While all the talk is about Djokovic winning his first French Open title, most forget that Rafa is going for an incredible 10th title at Paris. If anyone can do it, it has to be the King of Clay himself. Odds of 7 on the Betfair Exchange could have value, but only if the real Nadal turns up!

Decent Outsiders:

Wawrinka, Nishikori and Thiem

Unfortunately for Thiem, the Austrian is drawn in Djokovic’s side. Therefore it’s probably not worth backing the Austrian here even though the youngster has played unbelievably well on Clay this season.

Nishikori has had 3 losses on Clay this season. The first was to Nadal at Barcelona. The other two came against Djokovic at Madrid and Rome. Odds of 30 is more than value on him here.

My best outsider tip would be on Stan Wawrinka with odds of close to 20 on the Betfair Exchange as he has been there and done it before on the biggest stage. Also, in truth, Stan hasn’t played that badly this season. He is the deserved 4th favourite for the title!

Dark Horses:

Kyrgios, Cilic and Kuznetsov

Kyrgios has had a very impressive season and has the serve and power to get through some seeds. Odds close to 100 looks good on the Aussie.

Cilic form this week in Geneva has been pretty spectacular. I haven’t seen him play so aggressively on Clay before! Odds of close to 300 on the Croatian look very juicy indeed!

Of all the players mentioned in this article, Kuznetsov has the highest odds of 1000 on the Betfair Exchange. While he may not win the title, the Russian is simply one of the most improved players in the entire ATP circuit. Probably worth a shot on him with some spare change!

Worth noting that all these three players are in the bottom half of the draw with no Djokovic to worry about which is why I think there is value on them.

PREDICTION:

There is only Nadal to worry for Djokovic in his section of the draw. In the bottom half, I do think Stan Wawrinka is good enough to beat Andy Murray if they end up meeting in a mouthwatering semi-final. A repeat of the 2015 final is a possibility this year.

This time though, I expect the Serbian to come through to avenge last year’s defeat and snatch the French Open title that has eluded him for so long!

Novak Djokovic to win the 2016 French Open title and make a serious statement as one of the true greats in the modern era of Tennis.

Thanks for reading and good luck!

Patrick Ross

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