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The French Open is just around the corner, beginning on May 31 from Roland Garros in Paris, and with the draw coming out on Thursday, it's a great time to get into some futures markets. Below, we'll run through the best bets to make right now in Men's and Women's Singles.
Men's Singles Outrights
Rafael Nadal -121
It goes without saying that Nadal is always a wise bet come springtime, having won the event 13 of the 16 times he's entered, and for the past four years in a row. His vicious style and legendary competitiveness on the clay is unmatched, and his consistency is remarkably impressive given the unpredictable nature of red clay. Though he's now 34, and has lost twice already this season on clay in 16 matches (yes, that's noteworthy when the guy's 459-42 on the clay since debuting on the main draw in 2003) he's still got just as good a chance as ever before at winning here.
There were similar concerns for a then 33-year-old Nadal in 2020, when he entered the French Open just nine days after falling to Diego Schwartzman in Rome. Before that, folks called 2019 as the year that Rafa would finally fall again in Paris after losing to Fabio Fognini, Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas in three consecutive tournaments to open his clay season. Yet neither of these years proved to be a fruitful one for betting against Nadal at Roland Garros, so why this year? He's fought through matches without his A-game, and developed it along the way looking unbeatable by the time he captured the title in Rome. Rafa could face some tough competition in the Round of 16 against Jannik Sinner, but should he prevail against the teenager (and he did, quite easily, last year at the French Open and again this year in Spain) he'll just need to tackle Novak Djokovic (presumably) in the semifinal. It's not the easiest draw he's ever seen, but he's realistically gearing up for two huge fights against opponents he's already beaten this year in Sinner and Djokovic. The path is there.
Stefanos Tsitsipas +550
I get that it's not cool taking someone whose odds are this short when you're talking about the French Open, where Rafa is a near-lock to win. With that said, Tsitsipas has arguably been the best player on tour in 2021, and seems to get better with every passing month. His clay resume in 2021 includes capturing a Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo, a smaller ATP 250 tournament in Lyon and falling just short of taking out Nadal in the Barcelona final.
Tsitsipas has the distinct advantage of duking it out in the non-Rafa half of the draw, which features the No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev. The Russian is a special kind of bad on the red clay, and has even admitted during his matches that he hates playing on it. His game simply does not translate, and it's very possible he makes a first-round exit here.
With that said, the World No. 5 should have just one tough test here, which will be Christian Garin, en route to the semifinals. After cruising there, he'll likely face Alexander Zverev, a player he's beaten five times in seven meetings, since I'd bet against Dominic Thiem making it that far with the horrible form he's in. This half of the draw should be all Tsitsipas, meaning you'll get one of the finalists at +550 when it's all said and done, and maybe even a chance to hedge.
Jannik Sinner +3300
The aforementioned 19-year-old Italian is destined to be the No. 1 player in the world someday, and that day may be very soon. He's already peaked at No. 17 in the ATP rankings, and last year cruised to the French Open quarters before he was disposed of by Nadal in straight sets. He kept things relatively close in the first two sets, even serving for the first, before he rolled over in the third, meaning there isn't a whole lot of ground for him to make up here.
Sinner's game has only gotten bigger and more consistent since last fall. He's always been one to have some bad losses here and there, but that's no different than most teens who experience a meteoric rise before their 19th birthday. He's shown up for the Masters 1000 tournaments, and next on his list will be the Grand Slams, where he never seems to get a fair shake in the draw. That continues here with a tough first round opponent in Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert, but should he pass that test, he'll likely be headed into a matchup with Nadal in the quarters once again. Judging based on how his last encounter went, and the fact that he was able to break the Spaniard's serve with ease when they met this year, he's got as good a chance as anyone of knocking out Rafa. Should he pull that upset, little should stand in his way of reaching the Final.
Iga Swiatek +270
Swiatek is similar to Nadal in the sense that she may be simply unstoppable on the red clay. At just 19 years of age, the defending champ at Roland Garros is putting together a run that mirrors the Spaniard's, going 80-13 across all levels since breaking into professional tennis in 2016. Her tenacity on the court puts her on a very exclusive level in the ever-volatile women's game, and she's knocked off some of the biggest names in the game over the past two years. It won't be long before you're forced to pay a Nadal-like +150 price on Swiatek, so I recommend getting in now before she's unbettable.
Paula Badosa +3300
When you're betting WTA futures, where the impossible happens on a weekly basis, you always want to go for long odds like this. The draw breaks kind of perfectly for Badosa, who won't have to face Swiatek or Ash Barty, the most imposing figures in women's tennis at the moment, in her half of the draw. She's gone 19-4 on clay over the last two seasons, and she's coming off a title in Belgrade after falling to Barty 6-4, 6-3 in the Madrid semifinal. Badosa can certainly get hot here, with an aged Victoria Azarenka waiting in the second round, then perhaps an inexperienced Leylah Fernandez and an unpredictable Aryna Sabalenka. This draw has the potential to give Badosa just enough of a test, but still a good chance to win, that I wouldn't be surprised to see her confidence lifted enough to power right into the Final here. Great things are on the horizon for the 23-year-old, so why can't it begin at Roland Garros?
Nadia Podoroska +6000
Speaking of longshots, I can't pass up the chance to take one of last year's French Open semifinalists at 60-1. Podoroska's been okay this year on the clay, picking up a couple of quality wins over Laura Siegemund, Serena WIlliams and the dangerous Oceane Dodin, but I've just become very impressed with her style of play and her composure. She's been playing pro tennis for 10 years now, but is just 24 years old, and I think her experience is really starting to pay off for her, particularly last year when she went on a dumb 22-4 run on the clay. She's also in the half of the draw without Swiatek or Barty, giving her an easier road to the FInal.