Ahead of the second Grand Slam of the 2016, our tennis expert, Dan Weston, takes a look at the odds of the Big Four of men’s tennis to win the French Open as well as new generation players that could cause an upset. Here’s how the bettors moved the Pinnacle Sport's odds in the past month. A must read for anybody planning to hedge or bet in the outright market.
Whether you are interested in betting on the winner of the ATP French Open 2016 or looking for value bets to hedge the outright market, here is what the Pinnacle odds suggest for the key players who will fight for the men’s crown in Paris between May 22 and June 5.
The world number one, Novak Djokovic, is the overwhelming favourite in the field with the Pinnacle’s odds stable at * for over a month. Despite an illustrious career, the Serb is yet to taste glory at Roland Garros. Djokovic has been runner up in three of the last four years, losing twice to Rafael Nadal and once, in a shock defeat last year, to Stan Wawrinka.
Djokovic’s loss to Wawrinka was his only clay defeat in 2015, although he has succumbed to defeat twice already this year on the surface (Jiri Vesely in Monte Carlo and Andy Murray in Rome).
His hold/break stats of 88.7% and 27.4% (116.1%) on the dirt in 20 matches in the last 12 months have dropped following these defeats, plus some other surprising results (losing the first set 6-0 to Thomaz Bellucci in Rome, for example).
Certainly, as world number one, he is the player to beat in the field, but the hold/break statistics indicate clay is his worst surface by some distance (combined figure for hard court, for example is around 125%).
Furthermore, whilst a venue record of 52-11 sounds impressive, it needs to have added context in that he has been an extremely heavy favourite in the majority of these. A -9% ROI on Pinnacle closing prices in those 63 matches illustrates that he has underperformed at the French Open.
However, Djokovic backers will be heartened to know that defeat to Wawrinka was his only loss as a favourite at the venue in the last four years - all other losses were to Nadal as an underdog. Given the current levels of the two players, it is highly unlikely that he will be an underdog to Nadal in a head to head match this year.
A first win here would put Djokovic halfway towards achieving his goal of the year, to scoop all Grand Slams in 2016 – what he calls the Djoker Slam.
With a 70-2 venue record, it’s fair to say that the Spaniard is likely to view Roland Garros as his second home. However, last year was the first that he did not claim the title since 2009, and he is looking for his tenth French Open crown - unbeaten in all of his nine finals.
Nadal’s recent strong results have increased market's confidence in the Spaniard’s ability to win the French Open 2016 with the odds shortening from 5.76 to 4.95 within the past month.
Four of those wins came against Roger Federer and two against Novak Djokovic, and those memories will give Nadal confidence in a similar situation this year, but at the time of writing Nadal is ranked fifth in the world which could mean that he faces an elite level opponent as early as the quarter-finals.
Nadal’s stats on his beloved clay improved after a poor start, holding 81.6% and breaking opponents 37.3% this year so far (combined 108.9%, from 23 matches).
Defeats on the surface early in the season against Dominic Thiem in Buenos Aires and Pablo Cuevas in Rio de Janeiro did little to inspire confidence, but titles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona (with wins over Wawrinka, Murray and Nishikori amongst others) will have gone some way to rectify this.
His recent strong results have led to speculation amongst bettors that he might be able to reverse his decline on his favouritre surface, with the Pinnacle Sport’s odds for Nadal to win the French Open 2016 shortening from 5.76 on 23rd March to 4.95* at the time of writing.
Last year’s surprise champion is looking to repeat the feat in 2016 and - should he fail to do so - would face a drop in the world rankings.
Market odds, and surface hold/break stats, make this rankings decline more likely than not. The Swiss number two has solid but unspectacular 12 month clay hold/break stats at 85.4% and 25.9% (combined 111.3%) but this is far from being at elite level.
Despite having drifted from 11.35 on 23rd March to at the time of writing, Wawrinka should not be underestimated against any opponent with the exception of the Serb, and it’s also worth noting that he performed well (a semi-final defeat to Djokovic in five sets) when defending his other Grand Slam title, the Australian Open in 2014.
However, Wawrinka’s form will need to significantly improve - since taking the title in Dubai in February, he has yet to get past the quarter-final of the five events he has participated in since.
Clay has been well documented as being Murray’s weakest surface throughout his career but bettors should be aware that the Scotsman has improved significantly on the dirt in the last couple of years.
Andy Murray is the biggest winner in the Pinnacle Sport’s odds, with his odds drifting from as high as 14.01 on 23rdMarch to an impressive 5.020.
This assertion is backed up by his 2015 record, which was highly impressive at 14-1, holding serve 85.6% and breaking opponents 37.2% (combined 122.8%). His only defeat came in five sets to Djokovic in the semi-finals of this event last year.
Those stats have been backed up with a 12-2 surface record so far in 2016, holding 82.7% and breaking 38.4% (121.1%) - showing him to be at a world class level.
Murray also claimed titles in Munich and Madrid in 2015, and some readers may be surprised to know that these were Murray’s only clay ATP titles prior to him defeating Djokovic in the Rome Masters last week.
Following this, Murray is the big winner in the Pinnacle Sport’s odds. After shortening from 14.01 on 23rd March to an impressive at the time of writing, he is now considered a strong contender to at least make his first final at Roland Garros.
The talented Japanese player is arguably strongest on clay, with a 13-3 record last year generating a combined 110.7% hold/break percentage.
However, injuries and inconsistency have beset Nishikori in his career and many feel that those attributes being lacking in the 26 year old will stop him from claiming a Grand Slam title.
Should Nishikori be fit, he does have the talent to compete at the highest level, hence bettors should consider the value in his odds to win the tournament, with his odds having shortened from 27.56 in mid-March to at the time of writing.
It’s also worth noting that Nishikori’s last six defeats have come against Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal (twice) and Novak Djokovic (three times). This indicates that he finds it very easy to beat lower ability players, but struggles against the game’s absolute elite contenders.
Arguably the greatest player of all time, Federer will be hoping that his recovery from minor knee surgery allows him to be at his best at the French Open. However, when considering defeats to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Dominic Thiem in the Monte Carlo and Rome warm-up events, even the most ardent Fed-fan would need to be extremely optimistic that this will be the case.
Statistically, he’s solid at 114.6% combined hold/break percentage but it’s worth noting that he hasn't made a final at Roland Garros since 2011, and has lost as a strong favourite against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Ernests Gulbis and Stan Wawrinka in the last three years, which is the reason why he is currently the 6th favourite to win the French Open.
Furthermore, since 2011, he is 3-0 down in head to head matches on clay against his nemesis Nadal, although he has taken two wins from Djokovic (from five matches) in this time period.
The demands of long points that clay brings, in five set matches, will mean Federer will need to be at his best to claim his first Roland Garros title since 2009. Market activity has been low on Federer in the past month with his odds to win the French Open slightly shortening from 29.72 in mid-March to a current 28.53.
With a 53-118 career record against top ten opponents, and a poor record as an underdog, it looks like Berdych struggles to increase his level against the best players in the world, and his odds have doubled following warm-up events, from 57.28 a month ago to currently standing at 117.280*.
In addition to this, he’s not made the semi-finals here since 2010, when he lost to Robin Soderling after leading 2-1. Berdych has only made the quarter-finals on one further occasion (2014 loss to Gulbis) and it’s unlikely that he will be a major contender here.
The Spanish veteran is far less illustrious than his compatriot Nadal, although Ferrer is a tough opponent on his favoured surface.
Having said this, combined hold/break percentages of 113.1% make him a definite threat, although like Berdych he will have to improve his average level against the best players in the world to make a big impact here. At 191.25* at he time of writing, the betting market has shown zero change in the assessment of Ferrer’s chances to win the tournament.
Young prospects Dominic Thiem (43.32*) and Nick Kyrgios () have started 2016 well, claiming titles, and Thiem in particular has impressed on clay. These two young players look to have the best chances of the ‘new generation’ to reach the latter stages here.
Young prospects, Dominic Thiem & Nick Kyrgios, have the best chances of the ‘new generation’ to reach the latter stages and could be seen as good hedging opportunities.
Another big-server, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (), made the surprise effort to travel to South America for the Golden Swing but viewers of his shock defeat to the Brazilian youngster Thiago Monteiro may be excused wondering why he bothered. It will take a significant level increase for Tsonga to be a threat.
The likes of Marin Cilic, Grigor Dimitrov (), Gael Monfils () and Richard Gasquet () all lack either consistency, mentality or the ability to increase their level high enough against the elite. This latter criticism certainly wouldn’t be levelled at Fabio Fognini (), who has several wins on clay as a heavy underdog in recent times, although the temperamental Italian certainly does struggle with consistency.
And for those who are still undecided, read our guide on How to hedge outright markets for guaranteed profit. Rather than looking directly at identifying the winner of a competition, this article explains how you can make a profit in the outright markets even before the competition is over by using the hedging strategy.
*Odds subject to change.