Rafa Nadal, French Open

The attention of the tennis world swings to Paris for the next two weeks as the second Grand Slam of the year gets underway. 128 players will enter both of the main draws hoping to leave Roland Garros with the grand prize on the 8/9 June.

Mens Singles Tournament

Rafael Nadal is aiming for his 12th French Open title and his 18th Grand Slam overall at this year’s tournament. The clay-court expert has won the last two finals, beating Dominic Thiem in 2018 and Stan Wawrinka in 2017. He has not performed to his usual standards so far in 2019 but showed glimpses of his old self during his defeat of Novak Djokovic in last week’s Italian Open Final in Rome. That victory seems to have boosted his confidence and shortened his odds with the bookmakers as he is now listed as favourite for the French Open.

Djokovic, the winner of this year’s first Grand Slam tournament, could not cope with Nadal’s masterful play last week and he may struggle on the clay here too. The effervescent Roger Federer returns to Paris for the first time in three years hoping to cause an upset. One of the greatest players to ever play the game, Federer won his 101st career title at the end of March by beating John Isner at the Miami Open but he has rarely tasted success at Roland Garros.

Two players aiming to win their first Grand Slam titles are the choice picks for this year’s tournament. A win for last year’s beaten finalist Dominic Thiem or young Greek player Stefanos Tsitsipas could signify a changing of the guard at the top of the men’s game.

Thiem showed last year that he has the stamina for a long tournament run and the Austrian is a clay-court specialist. He is currently ranked No.4 in the world and he is backed to make at least the semi-finals this year. The 25-year-old beat Nadal in Barcelona this season and he is one of only four men who have beaten the Spaniard on clay in the last three seasons. He also won his first ATP Masters 1000 title this season, beating Roger Federer in the final of the Indian Wells Masters.

20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas is another player who has established himself as a clay court specialist. After struggling to make it through qualifying in last year’s French Open, Tsitsipas has made great strides and he reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open earlier this year. He is widely tipped to be the heir to Nadal’s throne as the King of Clay and he could really announce himself on to the world stage this summer.

Our Tip: Stefanos Tsitsipas e/w @18/1

Outright Betting (selected) from Coral

Rafa Nadal 11/10

Novak Djokovic 9/4

Dominic Thiem 6/1

Stefanos Tsitsipas 18/1

Roger Federer 20/1

J.M Del Potro 50/1

Womens Singles Tournament

Simona Halep is the favourite to retain her title this year but she will face stiff competition from top seed Naomi Osaka, Kiki Bertens, Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber among others.

Halep won last year’s French Open in terrific fashion but has struggled since. The Romanian has won only one title since then, the Canadian Open in August 2018. Her confidence seems to have dipped somewhat and a first round defeat would see her drop out of the top 10 for the first time since 2014. This will be a real test for her and it would be a big surprise to see her lift the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen on the 8th June.

Naomi Osaka has won two Grand Slam titles and if she was to win here third here in Paris she would enter Wimbledon with a chance to be the quickest player ever to collect all four Grand Slam titles. A long run is certainly not out of her reach. This will be her first major tournament as World No.1 but she seems to handle pressure with ease. Anything but a final appearance would be a disappointment for the Japanese star.

Kiki Bertens does not have Grand Slam pedigree but it’s fair to say she is in the form of her life at the moment. The Dutch player won the Madrid Open and reached the semi-finals of the Italian Open last week and she is a pick for many to reach the latter stages of the tournament. She has beaten Halep more than once in her career and should be confident of her chances of reaching this year’s final.

Angelique Kerber is looking to join Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova as the only active players with the full set of Grand Slam titles. The German won at Wimbledon last year but her best finish at the French Open has been the quarter-finals, in 2012 and 2018. Meanwhile, Serena has re-entered the top 10 despite struggling for much of 2019 with injury and illness. She exited this tournament at the third round stage last year but write her off at your peril.

Our Tip: Naomi Osaka e/w @14/1

Outright Betting (selected) from Coral

Simona Halep 4/1

Kiki Bertens 9/1

Naomi Osaka 14/1

Serena Williams 14/1

Sloane Stephens 16/1

Angelique Kerber 25/1

*Prices correct 22nd May

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