Friday, 3 May 2013

2013 French Open Odds: Rafael Nadal Favored Over Novak Djokovic

The 2013 French Open is quickly approaching as action will start from Roland Garros later this month with the qualifying tournaments. The main draw for men's singles will begin on May 26th with the final currently scheduled for June 9th. If you went by the current betting odds then that final would be between Spain's Rafael Nadal and Serbia's Novak Djokovic.

Currently Nadal is considered the outright favorite to win this year's French Open (Paddy Power 1/1, EVEN) despite the fact that he lost to Djokovic at the Monte-Carlo Masters in April in straight sets. Nadal has won the title at Roland Garros an incredible seven times, including three years running, and the Spaniard's only loss at the event remains his surprise loss in 2009 to two-time French Open finalist Robin Soderling.

Djokovic is currently coming in as a mild underdog to win the title at Roland Garros as he is best-priced with SpreadEx at 8/5 (+160). The French Open remains the only major title that the current World No. 1 has yet to win with his runnerup finish at last year's event his best ever showing.

While Djokovic defeated Nadal in their most recent clay court match without much trouble, it's still quite easy to understand why Nadal would remain the favorite for the French Open. Besides the Spaniard's success at the event, it has to be pointed out that Djokovic has numerous surprise losses at Roland Garros.

In 2009 he was among the favorites for the title and considered a shoe-in for at least the quarterfinals. However in that tournament he lost to Philipp Kohlschreiber, a player who has not enjoyed a ton of success in Grand Slams. In 2010 Djokovic once again looked like he was going to be a factor in the very late rounds but Jurgen Melzer, hardly a Grand Slam guru, defeated the Serb in the quarters despite trailing two sets to love in the match. In 2011 Djokovic lost to Roger Federer and while he's definitely a Grand Slam guru, let's not forget that Djokovic was undefeated in the calendar year prior to their match and for that reason the loss could be considered a surprise once again.

Ahead of the 2013 French Open we still have two Masters events to pay attention to with the Madrid Masters approaching and the Rome Masters to follow. Both Nadal and Djokovic have ranking points that they could gain in Madrid as they weren't exactly fond of last year's blue clay and both bowed out early in the 2012 event.

Federer, Andy Murray, and Juan Martin del Potro are the third, fourth, and fifth favored players respectively (bet365) although some sportsbooks consider Murray to be a stronger favorite than the Swiss Maestro (ie. William Hill). Federer, should he contend the tournament as expected, will be the only past champion besides Nadal that will be at this year's French Open tournament. However age is not on the Swiss Maestro's side and if he was not able to beat Nadal in earlier times, the soon-to-be 32 year old cannot be considered a threat to do that now. Murray and Delpo, though proven Grand Slam winners, have not made the final at Roland Garros to date and each player has just one semifinal appearance at the event.

One thing to be very aware of when placing your bets is that Nadal is currently the World No. 5. That implies a seeding of 5th at the French Open and that could lead to a very difficult draw at this year's Roland Garros tournament. There are scenarios where the Spaniard could slip down even further than 5th and, despite the betting odds suggesting a Djokovic vs. Nadal final, it's possible that the two players might be on the same side of the draw - or even in the same quarter.

For that reason, I would stay away from Nadal's odds until after the draw and I would also stay away from backing Djokovic at this time as well. Presently I think the best betting value is to hope for a surprise winner at the 2013 French Open with Murray at 23 to 1 with Betfair, del Potro at 25 to 1 with Boylesports, and Tomas Berdych at 80 to 1 with Boylesports as well (odds current as of May 3rd). Sprinking two of those players lightly and then checking out the odds on Nadal and Djokovic after the release of the draw later this month is probably the smartest thing to do.

Recommendations: Murray and Berdych.