The women’s singles event at the French Open this year looks a typically open tournament. With numerous contenders, this preview looks at the player data for those at the forefront of the market.
2019 WTA French Open: Is it better value than the ATP?
While the men’s singles tournament this year at the French Open - as is usually the case - is favourite-centered, this isn’t often the case for women’s singles events at Grand Slams. Indeed, both of the top two men’s favourites, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic, are priced shorter than women’s favourite, Simona Halep.
Only Halep (4.859*) and Kiki Bertens (8.15*) are priced below the 10.00 mark in what promises to be yet another competitive women’s Grand Slam tournament, illustrate by there being 11 players priced below 20.00 in the current tournament winner market.
Is Simona Halep a justified favourite?
Statistically, the market would appear justified in its faith in Halep. The market-leading Romanian also boasts the best clay data on the WTA Tour, when looking at service and return points won percentages across 2019 in isolation, or in the last 12 months.
Across the last 12 months, she’s running at 110.2% combined service/return points won, which is notably in excess of all other major contenders.
She looks like being the best clay courter on tour right now, although she has lost her last two matches on the surface - against the aforementioned Bertens in the final of Madrid, and versus the up and coming Marketa Vondrousova in Rome last week - which isn’t a positive.
Having said that, she has made the final here at Roland Garros in each of the last two years, lifting the trophy after a three-set victory over Sloane Stephens a year ago.
Who are the nearest challengers?
As discussed, Bertens is the nearest challenger to Halep in the outright market, and comes into the tournament at a career-high fourth in the rankings.
The Dutchwoman has gone semi-final/winner/semi-final in her last three clay events (all at Premier level) and defeats to Petra Kvitova in quick conditions in Stuttgart, and Johanna Konta in Rome last week are no disgraces. Bertens will be tough to beat during the upcoming fortnight.
Summarising the numerous players priced in the 10-20 price range, Serena Williams and Elina Svitolina go into the event undercooked following a lack of court time on clay this season, and Williams’ withdrawal from Rome last week was a further negative for the former world number one.
She’s only played one match since withdrawing from Miami in March. Those with faith in Williams may be best advised to evaluate her opening couple of matches.
Current world number one Naomi Osaka is in this grouping, and has definite upside. Despite her obvious ability, prior to this season, the Japanese talent was yet to translate that to results on clay.
However, Osaka (106.7% combined) has done so this year, and given her continued upside, would look a real threat in the draw to any player.
Certainly, she looks to have a better chance than the similarly-priced current versions of Sloane Stephens and Garbine Muguruza, based on this year’s data, while the likes of Petra Kvitova and Angelique Kerber are experienced Grand Slam contenders and boast solid numbers - although clay is arguably not the favoured surface for either player.
Belinda Bencic has shown massive improvement this year across both hard courts and clay and is running at 105.7% combined on clay this year - solid top 10 numbers
Rounding off those priced below 20.00, Karolina Pliskova is another live contender, with strong data on clay this year (106.6% combined) and the Czech celebrated with the title last week in Rome - she will be in confident mood in advance of the French Open.
This is less likely to be the case for Ash Barty - another player who arguably doesn’t do their best work on clay - while Victoria Azarenka currently is inconsistent and often over-rated by the market in individual matches against high-level opposition.
Even at her peak, the Belarussian was less strong on clay as other surfaces.
Is there value at bigger prices?
In such an open tournament, there’s also plenty of interest in players at bigger prices. Belinda Bencic has shown massive improvement this year across both hard courts and clay and is running at 105.7% combined on clay this year - solid top 10 numbers.
Madison Keys has also struggled with injury but if fit, could make a mockery of her 26.28* price, while 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko has been in career free-fall of late.
Serving is a particular issue for the Latvian, and there are probably better options at around her 32.54* price.
Aryna Sabalenka has not been able to reproduce her levels from other surfaces onto clay, while Daria Kasatkina has disappointed this year, as has, to a slightly lesser extent, Elise Mertens.
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