Rafael Nadal will be gunning for his 14th French Open title and an incredible 22nd Grand Slam title in Paris this summer when the ATP descends on the City of Light. Early betting online outrights tip the Spaniard as the firm favorite to win on his beloved clay – a market outlook that is supported by his overall record in the French capital and an astonishing start to the 2022 ATP season that few would have predicted.
And yet, all eyes won’t be on Nadal only at this year’s installment of the French Open – also known as Roland Garros. There are several converging storylines poised to steal some of the spotlight away from the King of Clay, including Novak Djokovic’s return to Grand Slam action after his failed attempt to compete at the Australian Open grabbed international headlines.
In this column, we look at the tennis odds for Nadal, Djokovic and a slew of other top contenders along with some of the key talking points that could have an impact on the tennis betting markets in the coming months.
2022 ATP French Open Preview
Nadal Unbeaten in 2022
Nadal’s 2022 campaign is off to a stellar start. The 35-year-old is undefeated ahead of March’s Indian Wells Masters tournament next week after compiling a 15-0 record and winning three titles, including the 2022 Australian Open. Nadal started the year by winning the ATP 250 Melbourne and then followed it up with the Australian Open title, which marked his 21st grand slam title and saw him pull ahead of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer (both on 20) in the record books. Last week, he defeated Cam Norrie in straight sets to win the Acapulco title.
Over and above Nadal’s sublime form is another impressive statistic. That is, he’s won 11 finals in a row since the 2019 Roland Garros final. Nothing says winner or “value play” like winning eleven straight finals. So, that’s something tennis fans should take stock of for their wagers.
— Tennis Channel International (@TennisChanneli) March 2, 2022
Djokovic Cleared To Play?
Novak Djokovic challenged the Australian Federal government regarding his participation at the year’s first major and lost. His case rocked headlines around the world and raised questions about his future on the ATP Tour, so long as strict covid-19 measures would continue to be enforced. Indeed, the Serbian is going to miss both the Indian Wells and Miami Masters this month due to the United States vaccine mandates.
Novak Djokovic’s bid to win the #AusOpen without a COVID-19 vaccination is in jeopardy again after he admitted to lying on an immigration form. Here is a timeline of the still-developing tennis saga https://t.co/P6ZqfLA36t pic.twitter.com/ffobLtv8dO
— Reuters (@Reuters) January 14, 2022
Immediately after Djokovic’s unceremonious departure from Down Under, speculation was rife about his eligibility to compete at Roland Garros – the second of three majors that he was supposed to defend this year.
The will he or won’t he speculation might be over now that the French Sports Ministry announced that players who weren’t vaccinated could compete if they’d recovered from Covid-19 six months prior to the start of the French Open. Whether that rule holds true until the tournament starts, remains to be seen. If it does though, Djokovic is in luck, as it so happens.
Thanks to the brouhaha Down Under, we now know that Djokovic tested positive for the virus on December 16. That timeline falls within the six month grace period that the French authorities have stipulated. For now!
Novak Djokovic said missing future majors with COVID-19 vaccination mandates is “the price I’m willing to pay” in an interview with the BBC.
— ESPN (@espn) February 15, 2022
Djokovic comes in as the second-best bet at +225 to win the French Open. Considering his championship credentials, the Serbian starlet certainly comes across as a value play. That said, Djokovic has only played three matches to date, going 2-1 after a shocking upset by Jiri Vesely at the Dubai Open.
Medvedev & Rublev: Future of Russian Tennis Players In Doubt
Belarusian and Russian athletes alike are increasingly being banned from sport following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but tennis players have avoided the exclusion so far. Whether this will be the case in May, nobody really knows. The world has seen a sizable political crisis such as this since World War II.
Newly-minted world No.1 Daniil Medvedev and his compatriot World No. 6 Andrey Rublev are Russia’s top tennis stars that could be impacted by any future decisions regarding their playing status. As things currently stand at the sportsbook exchange, Medvedev is an outside bet at +!600 to win the French Open while Rublev is an even more distant +3300 bet. Medvedev, more so than Rublev, struggles on clay. It’s not his best surface and that fact is currently reflected in his odds. What’s more, the Russian has lost twice to Nadal this year – in an epic Aussie Open final and in the semis of Acapulco last week.
Tsitsipas, Thiem and Alcaraz, Players To Watch
Changing of the guard moments have been few and far in between in tennis. Indeed, Medvedev’s ascent to the top ranking is the first time in forever a player not named Roger Federer,l Nadal or Djokovic is the No. 1. The last player to be ranked World No.1 was Andy Murray on November 7, 2016.
Stefanos Tsitsipas lost to Djokovic in the 2021 French Open final. Arguably, the Greek is one of the players to spot at the upcoming Parisienne major and the third-best bet according to the bookmakers. Austria’s Dominic Thiem has missed a lot of time of the ATP Tour due to injury, but in recent years, he’s been one of the best players on clay. Thiem was a finalist in 2018 and 2019, losing to Nadal both times.
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) February 22, 2022
Carlos Alcaraz is the rising star on the ATP Tour that everyone is fawning over right now. Alcaraz has captured the imagination of tennis fans the world over – just like Nadal did when he burst onto the scene as a teenager, brandishing a never-before-seen, lasso-whipping forehand and winning the French Open title in his first appearance at the event. The fact that Alcaraz is a teenager from Spain whose game bears an uncanny resemblance to a teenage Nadal might have something to do with it. That and his undeniable talent, of course.
French Open Way Too Early Predictions
More than two months remain before the French Open gets underway on May 22, 2023. A lot can happen before then and that makes early betting picks a bit of a risk. That said, if Nadal’s good form spills into the clay-court season next month, it’s likely that his tennis odds will shorten.
Getting Nadal at +110 or thereabouts to win the French Open is an excellent play. No doubt about it. As far as outside bets go, several leap off the page. However, one in particular feels better than the rest. That is, Carlos Alcaraz at +1200. The Spaniard is a natural-born clay courter and the likely heir-apparent to Nadal.