French Open 2020: Assessing the Title Contenders
After a five-month lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, professional tennis made its return last month and it was a welcome return not only for the players but for tennis bettors, too.
The US Open has successfully gone ahead, albeit with a few quarantine-related controversies, and soon the finest male and female players in the world will make their way to Paris for the postponed French Open.
Ahead of Roland Garros, we assess the five leading male contenders and look at where the smart money lies. All odds are according to the best app bet in the market, and are subject to change, while additional markets – including ‘To Win Quarter’, ‘To Reach Final’, and others – are typically released after the draw is made.
Rafael Nadal – 5/6
Certainly no surprise to see the greatest clay court player in history and the French Open’s record-setting champion as the leading contender. Nadal’s numbers in Paris are simply astounding: a 93-2 win-loss record and 12 titles are testament to how utterly dominant the Spaniard has been on the French clay.
Yet, in this strangest of years, Nadal will enter the French Open without minimal competitive matches since winning the Mexican Open back at the end of February. The 19-time Grand Slam champion decided not to defend his US Open title, and after the cancellation of the Madrid Open – which was to act as the first of Nadal’s tune-up event – he will only have the Italian Open to get up to speed.
That being said, this is Nadal at the French Open and it takes a brave person to bet against the Spaniard in Paris, while he has been training relentlessly on clay courts all throughout the lockdown. Perhaps, though, his rivals who have been competing at the US Open will take some confidence from his lack of matches.
Novak Djokovic – 3/1
It has not been a great few months for Novak Djokovic. First the Adria Tour – which he spearheaded – descended into chaos after players, including himself, returned positive Covid-19 tests. Then the disruption caused by the breakaway players’ association he is attempting to set up, before his remarkable disqualification from the US Open for hitting a line judge with a ball.
Yet, while the world No 1’s reputation and public image are in tatters, he has so often produced his best tennis when his back is against the wall. Could all of this criticism actually fuel Djokovic on to clinch his second French Open title?
Prior to his US Open disqualification, the Serb had not lost a match all year, collecting four titles from four tournaments and stamping his authority as the undisputed king of tennis, so form is certainly no issue heading to Paris.
It really would be trademark Djokovic to set aside the off-court distractions and win the French Open title, and at 3/1 his odds are definitely tempting.
Dominic Thiem – 3/1
Thiem has established himself as the second-best clay court player in the world and only Nadal can outdo his recent consistency at the French Open. The Austrian has reached successive finals in Paris – losing to Nadal both times – and made the semi-finals both years prior to that, while 10 of his 16 career titles have come at clay events.
Yet, Thiem has shown in recent years that he is far from a clay court specialist, winning the prestigious Indian Wells title on an American hardcourt and finishing runner-up at the indoor ATP Finals, before pushing Djokovic all the way in the Australian Open final in January.
That success on other surfaces will inadvertently assist Thiem as he plots his assault on the Roland Garros trophy as it has made him a more well-rounded player and demonstrates that he is more than capable of mixing it with the likes of Nadal and Djokovic.
Thiem has also been extremely busy in the lead-up to the French Open, competing in numerous exhibition events and playing at the US Open so he will arrive in Paris fit and firing.
Andy Murray – 16/1
The huge gap between the three leading contenders and the rest shows exactly whom the bookies believe will be competing for the French Open title.
It’s quite remarkable to see Murray as the best of the rest when the three-time Grand Slam champion was on the verge of retirement over a problematic hip injury.
The Briton has a strong French Open record and has reached three semi-finals and a final in his last four appearances, but that was before his hip injury and he showed at the US Open that he still has plenty of work ahead if he is to recapture his past form.
Stefanos Tsitsipas – 18/1
There is no disputing the talent of Tsitsipas and he looks a Grand Slam champion in the making, although an almighty implosion against Borna Coric cost him a shot at potentially winning the US Open.
The Greek player has enjoyed some success on clay having reached the Madrid Open final and Italian Open semi-finals last season, while also reaching the further finals in Barcelona and Estoril.
But is he a serious contender for the 2020 French Open? Probably not. However, it might be worth waiting for the draw to discover his path to the final and see if there are any tempting odds on Tsitsipas winning his quarter.
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