After a thrilling Australian Open, all eyes are now on the 2018 WTA French Open to see who can pick up the second Grand Slam of the year. Read on for some expert insight into the outright winner odds.
With eight players at odds of 20.00 or less, there is little doubt that the women’s French Open is going to be a wide-open tournament. While there are plenty of contenders in with a chance of winning the tournament, this preview analyses whether there’s any value on offer.
Assessing chances at the top of the market
Last year at the French Open, Jelena Ostapenko caused a major shock by defeating Simona Halep in the final to record her first Grand Slam title.
Saving a final in Miami and some success in smaller events, the Latvian hasn’t particularly backed up her triumph, and her position at world number five will come under threat with a poor showing - an early exit will see her leave the top ten.
Ostapenko is one of a number of players in the sub 20.00 bracket in the women’s French Open outright winner odds, with last year’s beaten finalist, Simona Halep, the market leader at (6.57*).
Despite being favourite in two - and a heavy favourite at that against Ostapenko this time last year - and a marginal underdog in the other, Halep has yet to taste Grand Slam glory in her three finals, losing the deciding set in all of them.
Neither Williams nor Azarenka have had much of a warm-up to this French Open and it would be a brave bettor to back either player currently.
Statistically, there isn’t much to split Halep from a number of players at the top of the market. In the last 18 months, she’s won 59.4% of clay service points and an elite-level 49.3% of return points (108.7%) combined, which puts her marginally ahead of Petra Kvitova (17.99*), second-favourite Elina Svitolina (7.27*) and Kiki Bertens (21.97*), using this metric, with all having data between the 107%-109% mark.
Bertens has been the biggest mover in the market, available at much bigger prices prior to winning the Charleston Premier event, and then losing to Kvitova in the final in Madrid, and comes into the tournament in excellent touch - her defeat to Maria Sakkari in Rome can be forgiven, considering the volume of tennis she played the week before.
Across the 2018 season on clay, this quartet of Halep, Kvitova, Svitolina and Bertens also have impressed, and look to form a list of players with proven short and medium term pedigree on the surface.
Players in form who could cause an upset
In addition to the above, Elise Mertens, Karolina Pliskova and Camila Giorgi have exhibited a strong level this year. The Belgian prospect, Mertens, is getting better and better and has won 61.0% of service points this season on clay, and 47.2% on return (108.2%) and at odds of (25.88*) is a live contender.
Pliskova isn’t perceived to be as strong on clay as other surfaces, but her data from this season indicates this perception may be a mistake from the market, as her winning 64.0% of service points, and 43.9% on return on clay in 2018 (combined (107.9%) makes her out to be of a current elite-level and a major contender as well.
As for the Italian, Giorgi, she’s struggled to do justice to her potential over recent years, with an aggressive hit-or-miss style failing to work as often as it does. However, her 8-4 record on clay this year - and the data from those matches - is pretty solid and she is probably a long-shot worth considering.
Odds that are influenced by reputation
The likes of Caroline Wozniacki (23.42*), Maria Sharapova (12.88*) and Angelique Kerber (23.42*) have experience at the latter stages of Grand Slam events, but there are question marks over all three.
Bertens was available at much bigger prices prior to winning the Charleston Premier event, and then losing to Kvitova in the final in Madrid, and comes into the tournament in excellent touch.
Both Wozniacki and Kerber are not as strong on clay as on other surfaces, and this is evidenced by combined service/return points won this year of around 104% on the surface, and Kerber in particular hasn’t performed well on it for several years.
Sharapova, on the other hand, does have a strong long-term record on clay but is struggling to regain former levels following her absence from the tour.
Other players respected by the market include Serena Williams (10.29*), Garbine Muguruza (10.78*), and Victoria Azarenka (25.92*). Muguruza’s level on clay isn’t great over the short and medium term, running at 100.0% combined on clay this season and 101.3% in the last 12 months, while Williams and Azarenka are yet to show that they are close to their pre-pregnancy level.
Neither Williams nor Azarenka have had much of a warm-up to this French Open and it would be a brave bettor to back either player currently. Assessing their performances in early rounds is critical.
Finally, some young players with future upside at big prices on the surface include Anett Kontaveit (44.78*), Marketa Vondrousova (90.95*), and Aryna Sabalenka. This trio are more than capable of knocking out a top player now, and look to have potential to be threats in future years as well.