Will Rafael Nadal win a 14th title or will there be a new king of the clay this year? Read on to inform your French Open 2022 predictions with Dan Weston's expert insight.
Advantage Bettors: French Open 2022
Listen to the latest Advantage Bettors episode as three-time French Open winner Mats Wilander gives this inside track ahead of the 2022 tournament.
With the French Open just over a week away, this preview looks at the contenders for the Men’s Singles title, with two Spaniards currently at the top of the Tournament Winner market.
The Rome Masters – the final warm-up event for the main contenders for French Open glory – is now at the quarter-final stage (at the time of writing), so it’s time to start considering the Outright market for the clay grand slam of 2022, the French Open, which starts in Paris on May 22.
French Open 2022 Men’s Singles: Who are the favourites?
Despite winning four of the last five French Opens, in a generation of pure dominance from the man often known as the ‘King of Clay’, 13-time winner Rafael Nadal has drifted in the Outright market following his exit to Denis Shapovalov in Rome and concerns over a foot injury. The caveat for all market prices listed below is that Nadal must play the event.
The Spanish veteran is currently trading at 3.950*. His countryman Carlos Alcaraz, who has had a meteoric rise up the rankings, is now the favourite at 2.570*. This comes after the younger Spaniard won back-to-back titles on clay in Madrid and Barcelona, plus lifted his maiden Masters 1000 title in Miami around six weeks ago. He’s also laid down a marker to the field, beating all of Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev, and Stefanos Tsitsipas (twice) in those tournaments.
French Open 2022 Men’s Singles: Novak Djokovic’s title chances
It might not be a huge shock for readers to hear that Djokovic has faced a big drop-off in his numbers this season.
Last season’s winner, Djokovic, is slightly further back in the Outright market at 3.090*. The world number one has endured a torrid 2022 so far, failing to win a title to date and not even being allowed to participate in some tournaments. With those off-court difficulties, it might not be a huge shock for readers to hear that Djokovic has faced a big drop-off in his numbers this season, and he still looks to have plenty to prove, even at this stage of his career.
In fact, Djokovic is around six percent behind Alcaraz and Nadal when looking at combined Service and Return Points Won data this season on clay, so there’s definitely a case to be made that the Spanish duo (assuming full fitness) should be favoured by the market to a greater extent than Djokovic. It will be interesting to see how these market prices continue to move in the run-up to the event, particularly following the completion of the Rome Masters.
French Open 2022 Men’s Singles: Who are the other contenders?
Behind Alcaraz and Nadal – when looking at season-long clay court data – is Stefanos Tsitsipas, although his return data continues to cause a concern in a seven-round best-of-five-set Grand Slam, because long matches have such an effect on a player, in terms of fatigue, as the tournament progresses. However, he’s fourth-favourite behind Djokovic at 7.060*, being the final player of a quartet who are priced in single digits on the current Pinnacle Outright market.
Moving through the list of Outright prices, the six players priced below 50.000* in the current market comprise the other main contenders for the title. Of these, I would draw a line through Dominic Thiem, as his comeback from injury is still yet to yield even a single victory. In fact, he’s barely won a set in this time. His main issue has been an extremely low Return Points Won percentage, which will need to dramatically improve if he is to go far in Paris.
Of the others, Casper Ruud looks an interesting option at 19.840*, with the Norwegian having won in excess of 80% of his clay matches in the last 12 months, while the likes of Zverev and Andrey Rublev are always there or thereabouts in the discussion. However, it’s also probably fair to say that even winning their quarter would be a pretty solid achievement.
Finally, world number two Daniil Medvedev still has plenty to prove on clay – hence his price of 25.490* – and was last in action in Miami, so has skipped the entire clay season to date. This is obviously not ideal preparation for Medvedev, and given his previous issues on the surface, it is tough to have much confidence in him ahead of seven potential matches on clay, mostly against high-calibre opposition.
You can also check out Dan’s preview of the Women’s Singles tournament at this year’s French Open.