French Open Betting

The 2011 French Open is set to kick off at Roland Garros in Paris on May 22th, and will conclude on June 5th.  The 2011 French Open will be the 110th edition of this tournament, and as usual it is being played on the red clay in France.  The tournament will consist of the men’s and women’s singles and doubles, as well as mixed doubles and junior events.

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This article is focused on how to bet on the 2011 men’s French Open Championship.  The 2010 event was won by Rafael Nadal, and he returns as the favorite in 2011.  Nadal has won five of the past six men’s French Open Championships. Roger Federer was the only other winner during that time (he took home the men’s singles crown in 2009).

I will break the field down into three sections in this tennis betting preview.  In each of these sections I will present a best value bet, and the bet that carries the worst value. The first section will be the big two, which consists of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.  When you hear big two in tennis you are inclined to think Nadal and Federer, but this is no longer the case.  At the time of this writing Novak Djokovic has yet to lose a match in 2011, and has eclipsed Federer as the clear cut number two player.

The second section consists of the next five – Federer, Juan Martin del Potro, Robin Soderling, David Ferrer, and Andy Murray.  The third section consists of the rest of the field.  I have chosen to break the field down in this manner because from a betting perspective it makes sense to group players by their odds to win the tournament.  In each section I have listed what I believe to be pertinent information on their chances to win the 2011 French Open – 2011 record, 2011 clay court results, and their finish in the 2010 French Open.

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The 2011 French Open Big Two

Rafael Nadal

Odds:  10/11

2011 Record:  37-5

2011 Clay Court Results: Won Monte Carlo, Won Barcelona, Runner Up Madrid (Lost to Djokovic), Runner Up Italy (Lost to Djokovic)

2010 French Open: Champion

Novak Djokovic

Odds: 11/8

2011 Record:  39-0

2011 Clay Court Results: Won Serbia Open, Won Madrid, Won Italy

2010 French Open:  Quarterfinals (Lost to Melzer)

Worst Big 2 Bet: Djokovic.

I can’t justify laying this number on Novak.  It might sound strange to say that it isn’t a good idea to bet on a player that is 39-0 this season, but the number just isn’t a good one.  The French Open is a different animal than any other tournament.  It is a grueling two week grind that is in the best of five sets format.  Though Novak did win the Australian in a best of 5 format, the grind at the French is much different.  The points are typically longer, and his recent results at the French aren’t outstanding – quarters in 2010, round of 16 in 2009, and semis in 2008.

Best Big 2 Bet: No one.

As I explained above, I’m not laying that number on Djokovic.  To me it doesn’t make sense to lay that number on Nadal either.  I think that both of these players have an excellent shot to win the French, but betting them here isn’t wise. If you want to back either one of them just wait until the finals and bet them if they are still around.  The odds to win one match likely won’t be much different than to win the entire tournament.

The Next Five in the 2011 French Open

Roger Federer

Odds: 14/1

2011 Record:  28-7

2011 Clay Results:  Quarterfinals Monte Carlo (lost to Melzer), Semis Madrid (lost to Nadal), Quarters in Italy (lost to Gasquet)

2010 French Open:  Lost to Soderling in the Quarters

Juan Martin del Poltro

Odds: 33/1

2011 Record:  28-6

2011 Clay Results:  Won Estoril Open in Portugal, Lost in Walkover in Madrid quarters to Nadal

2010 French Open:  Did not play (injury), lost in 2009 semis to Federer

Robin Soderling

Odds: 40/1

2011 Record:  29-8

2011 Clay Results:  Lost in quarters in Portugal to del Potro, lost in Madrid quarters to Federer, Lost in R16 in Open Banc in Spain to Dodig, Lost in Italy quarters to Djokovic

2010 French Open:  Lost in finals to Nadal

David Ferrer

Odds: 33/1

2011 Record:  28-8

2011 Clay Results:  Won in Mexico, Lost in Monte Carlo finals to Nadal, Lost in Open Banc Spain finals to Nadal, Lost in Madrid quarters to Djokovic, Lost in France quarters to Dolgopolov

2010 French Open:  Lost in 3rd round to Melzer

Andy Murray

Odds: 16/1

2011 Record:  16-7

2011 Clay Results:  Lost in Monte Carlo semis to Nadal, lost in Madrid quarters to Bellucci, lost in Italy semis to Djokovic (7-6 in the third)

2010 French Open:  Lost in 4th round to Berdych

Worst Second Five Bet:  Tie between Federer and Murray.

First of all with Federer, his odds are this because of his name and his long reign as world number one.  The recent results should have him with similar odds as Ferrer, del Potro, and Soderling. Don’t bet the name in this one.  As far as Murray goes, I think it is a stretch to put him in the same betting group as these other four players.  Murray has a pedestrian 17-6 record this year, and I would be shocked if he suddenly breaks out of the slump and wins the French.  His last 3 French Open appearances? 4th round, quarters, and third round.

Best Second Five Bet: Ferrer.

He has played more than anyone on the clay this year, and he is in his comfort zone on the dirt.  He stretched Djokovic to three sets in Madrid before bowing out, and lost in two other clay finals to Nadal.  Surprisingly, Ferrer hasn’t fared particular well in past French Opens, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he breaks through this year.  The surface suits his game and he is playing excellent tennis coming in. Don’t be shocked to see heavy betting action on Ferrer, resulting in a smaller betting line.

Best and Worst Of The Rest

Best Long Odds Bets: Melzer at 150-/1 and Berdych at 80/1.

The first thing that I looked for was names that already appeared in this French Open betting preview article.  If I already mentioned a long odds player it means that they have beaten a top player. More importantly it means that they have beaten a top player either on clay this year or in the 2010 French Open.  It just makes sense betting a player that has beaten one of the other top players on a similar surface in a recent time period.

Melzer beat Djokovic in the 2010 French Open quarters in addition to beating Ferrer in the same tournament.  He also beat Federer in Monte Carlo this year.  Berdych beat Andy Murray in the 2010 French Open 4th round at a time when Murray was on top of his game. He eventually lost to Soderling in the semis after holding a two sets to one lead.

Worst Long Odds Bets: Isner at 500/1 and Monfils at 150/1.

Yeah I know, it’s easy to pick on the Americans and the French in Paris. But truth be told betting on them is like burning money.  Isner is a mere 3-5 in singles action on the clay this year.  In his last two French Open appearances he was bounced in the 3rd round in 2010 and the first round in 2008. He will lose to Nadal in round 1.  Roddick has played on clay twice this year, and was beaten both times.

Monfils is 4-3 on clay this year, and 9-5 overall.  The last person from France to win the French Open was Yannick Noah in 1983. It isn’t happening this year either.

What I’m Betting

My favorite bet on the board is David Ferrer at 33/1.  I like the whole trio of players that includes del Potro, Soderling, and Ferrer.  All three are undervalued due in part to recent losses, but mostly they are undervalued because Nadal and Djokovic are both overvalued.  My favorite of the three is Ferrer, though a small bet on the other two is worth a flyer.  If Nadal makes the finals, I will bet him straight there.

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