Before I move on to this year’s French Open preview, I’ll provide a quick rundown of last week’s ATP action at Geneva and Lyon. It was another great week for my tournament selections as Paire (advised 20/1) delighted the home crowd by winning the title at Lyon beating NextGen star Auger-Aliasimme 6-4 6-3 and I also tipped Jarry (advised 25/1) who came within a whisker of winning the Geneva title but was denied by top seed Zverev 6-3 3-6 7-6 (10-8).
The eagerly awaited second Grand Slam of the 2019 ATP Tour season gets underway today and the elite of the ATP Tour will attempt to lift the coveted championship trophy in two weeks’ time. As is normally the case at Grand Slams two of the top ten seeds often contend the finals and the French Open is no different. The men’s tournament has witnessed only one winner seeded outside the top four seeds over the last decade (Wawrinka 2015 seeded eight) and only one player reached the final seeded outside the top-five over the last decade (Soderling 2009 seeded 23).
Only four active players have won the French Open over the last decade and of course, the King of Clay Nadal rises above the rest with seven titles during this period (eleven in total between 2005 and 2018), he’s only ever lost twice at the tournament (Soderling 2009 and 2015 Djokovic). The only other active players to win the title during this period are top seed Djokovic 2016, Federer in 2009 and Wawrinka 2015 and based on the record of players seeded four and above at the French Open over the last decade it’s statistically more likely one of the top four seeds will win the title again having won nine of the last ten titles and it could be against a player seeded no higher than seven as they’ve contested the last nine finals.
Looking at how the seeded players have performed from a historical statistical perspective and the top-seed has won four of the last ten titles (last Nadal 2018), and they were a losing finalist twice during this period (last Djokovic 2015), which bodes well for Djokovic’s chances this year. The second seed has won three of the last ten titles (last Nadal 2012) and they were a losing finalist twice during this period (last Murray 2016) and with eleven time champion and clear favourite Nadal seeded two this year he obviously has a good chance of defending his title again after peaking just at the right time winning the Rome Masters 1000 Series this month.
Like all the other Grand Slams seeded players have dominated the French Open title and finals over the last decade. A player seeded no higher than eight won the last ten titles (last Nadal 2018), a player seeded no higher than four won nine of the last ten titles and the top two seeds have won seven of the last ten titles between them. A seeded player no higher than twenty-three contested the last ten finals and a player seeded no higher than seven was a losing finalist nine of the last ten finals.
From a tournament winner betting perspective, the statistics over the last decade suggest a player seeded no higher than four has the best chance of winning the title and with the top two seeds having the best record over this period another major final between Djokovic and Nadal is of course a distinct possibility. However, with Djokovic and Nadal not being as dominant on clay this season it’s enough to put me off backing them in the Name the Finalists market.
Instead, I’ll just opt for one tournament winner selection and I’ll side with fourth seed Thiem (17/2) as he fits the profile from a statistical perspective. He’s come close the last three seasons having reached his first Slam final here last year losing to Nadal, the semi-finals in 2017 and 2016 and hopefully 2019 will be his year and he’ll land a well deserved first Grand Slam title. There’s no other player who appeals from an outright perspective, so I’ll head to the draws quarter winner markets for my other two selections.
The third quarter favourite is sixth seed Tsitsipas followed closely by third seed Federer and at their respective prices I think there worth taking on as there’s several seeded players who are elite performers on clay and have form at Roland Garros. Tsitsipas has been in scintillating form so far this year and will be fancied by many to reach the latter stages and/or final, however, he may start to struggle physically if he reaches the latter stages after playing so many tournaments and matches this year which is enough to put me off backing him. It’s a surprise to see Federer back at Roland Garros after bypassing the whole of last year’s clay court season. He also played two of the three Master’s 1000 Series tournaments at Madrid and Rome but lost at the quarter finals stage against Thiem at Madrid and withdrew before playing Tsitsipas at Rome due to injury, which is a good enough reason for me to take him on.
The two players I think have a good chance of winning the third quarter are 2018 quarter finalist Schwartzman (12/1), who gave Rafa a scare at the quarter final stage last year when he won the first set, and 2018 semi-finalist Cecchinato (33/1) who knocked Djokovic out in the quarter finals last year. Both players excel on the surface, they can beat any player in their quarter if they are 100% fit and can produce their best form on the day and at their respective prices, they represent good value.
Thiem Win @ 17/2
Third Quarter Winner
Schwartzman Win @ 12/1
Cecchinato Win @ 33/1
Fabbiano vs. Cilic Over 32.5 Games @ 15/16