French Open odds: Djokovic new favourite after doubts surround 13-time champion Nadal
The leading lights in Paris and their French Open odds
Novak Djokovic is the new favourite in the French Open odds to retain his title after winning the Rome Masters at the weekend amid doubts surrounding Rafael Nadal.
Nadal was the 7/4 favourite to win the French Open for a record-extending 14th time at the start of last week, but he struggled with a long-standing foot injury during his defeat by Denis Shapovalov and his odds have since drifted to 4/1.
Here we look at the main contenders for success at the year’s second major which gets under way on Sunday.
The world number one clinched a sixth Italian Open victory with a 6-0 7-5 win against Stefanos Tsitsipas for his first title of the season at the weekend which he described as ideal preparation for his hopes of winning a 21st grand slam.
The defending champion had a troubled start to the year, being deported from Australia in January to miss the first grand slam of the year before his decision to remain unvaccinated contributed towards a number of tournaments being skipped due to entry restrictions imposed by various countries.
Not too bad 🤌🏼😍🏆 Nothing but grateful for this amazing week and everyone’s support. I have felt immense love being in Roma @InteBNLdItalia ❤️ Grazie a tutti per il supporto! Idemooo 🏼💪🏼🙌🏼👐🏼 pic.twitter.com/MP3kqXXR32
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) May 15, 2022
However, the Serb was runner-up in Belgrade, a semi-finalist in Madrid and a winner in Rome where he did not drop a set.
Djokovic, cut from 3/1 to 2/1 in the French Open odds, said: “I’m going to Paris definitely with confidence and good feelings about my chances there.”
Chances: With doubts surrounding the participation of Nadal, it seems Djokovic is the man to beat this year.
Alexander Zverev claimed Alcaraz is the best player in the world after losing to him in the Madrid Open final and few would argue with that statement following a 6-3 6-1 victory over the German.
Alcaraz had already made history by becoming the first player to eliminate Novak Djokovic and Nadal at the same clay-court event and he subsequently withdrew from the Rome Masters in order to recover in time for Roland Garros.
He said: “It feels great to be able to beat these players. To beat two of the best players in history and then Zverev, the world number three. He is a great player. I would say this is the best week of my life.”
Chances: His athleticism and shot-making on both flanks make him an extremely dangerous opponent, one all players will wish to avoid.
With the French Open set to begin on Sunday, doubts will increase over whether Nadal will even make it to Paris and, if he does, whether he can be competitive having just returned to action after a broken rib.
Nadal’s movement was severely compromised towards the end of his last-16 tie against Shapvalov by a chronic problem which the Spaniard feared as recently as December would end his glittering career.
He said: “I had my foot again with a lot of pain, and that’s it. (The pain) is sometimes more, sometimes less. Today was crazy. I am not injured. I am a player living with an injury. That’s it. (This) is nothing new. It’s something that is there.
“Unfortunately my day-by-day is difficult, honestly. Even like this, I am trying hard. Of course, it’s difficult for me to accept the situation sometimes. What can happen in the next couple of days, I don’t know. What can happen in one week, I really don’t know now. It’s time to accept the situation and fight. That’s it.”
Chances: Nadal has defied the odds before and if he can control the pain he should have a great chance but whether he makes it to the starting line is another matter.
The Greek has been cut from 7/1 to 9/2 after an excellent clay-court season in which he won the Monte Carlo Masters for the second time and was runner-up in Rome at the weekend having beaten the likes of Jannik Sinner and world number three Alexander Zverev.
The Greek is still behind at least two players having claimed that the two favourites for success at Roland Garros are Djokovic and Alcaraz, who has beaten Tsitsipas twice this year.
He added: “Right now I need to improve a few things in my game. I don’t know if I’m going to get there, but I hope I do with my hard work by the time Roland Garros begins.
“I’d love myself to get around with these players and be there with them. But I will really need to put a bit more attention to detail in the next couple of weeks.”
Chances: Reached his first grand slam final in Paris last year and an appearance in the last four is not out of the question.
Zverev courted controversy when he was thrown out of the tournament in Acapulco for repeatedly hitting the umpire’s chair at the conclusion of a doubles defeat.
Some former players felt his punishment was too lenient for a player that is supposedly being investigated by the ATP for domestic abuse of his former partner.
Since Mexico, the German, who won a career-best six titles last season, including a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, has yet to be firing on all cylinders, although he reached his second final of the season In Madrid where he was blown away by Alcaraz.
The German has lost two of three recent meetings with Tsitsipas, the player who beat him in a five-set epic in last year’s semi-finals, so others are preferred ahead of Paris.
Chances: A quarter-final spot will be the minimum aim for the world number three who has won six clay titles.
Best of the rest
Casper Ruud is not a household name but he has been inside the world’s top 10 for the last eight months and six of his seven titles have come on clay.
The 23-year-old Norwegian won in Buenos Aires for the second time in his career in February, beat Zverev en route to the final in Miami at the start of April, and lost to Djokovic in the last four in Rome last week, but his French Open odds have yo-yoed from 20/1 to 33/1 and back to 20/1.
Andrey Rublev won a third title of the season by beating home hope Djokovic in the final in Belgrade, but he will he hoping to improve upon last season’s performance in Paris where he went out in five sets to Jan-Lennard Struff in the opening round.
The 2020 quarter-finalist was beaten by Tsistipas in the quarter-finals in Madrid and lost to Filip Krajinovic in his first match in Rome, so it’s little surprise his odds have lengthened from 33/1 to 40/1. Could go deep though.
Finally, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina reached his maiden grand slam quarter-final at last season’s French Open and having beaten Djokovic en route to the final in Monte Carlo, the 22-year-old Spaniard, who has yet to win a title, could go well once more at 125/1.
French Open info
Where: Roland Garros
When: May 22-June 5
How to watch: Eurosport
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication