The French Open isn’t about to begin, but the clay season does begin in roughly six weeks, so you will begin to want to get a sense of what matters and what doesn’t when Roland Garros revs up at the end of May. Here is a general overview:
Djokovic And Nadal Get First Priority
Novak Djokovic was not healthy during the 2017 French Open, and he was in a clear transitional stage due to coaching changes and disruptions at the 2018 French Open. In 2019, he is currently healthy and currently free from uncertainty about his coaching situation or other aspects of his tennis life. He should therefore be seen as a foremost contender for the event, as he was from 2011 through 2016. It is back to normal for Djokovic at this tournament.
Rafael Nadal’s body was not at full strength for much of 2015, and Nadal was accordingly not the typically confident player he has been for most of his career. Nadal went through a period of great doubt and darkness in 2015. He was then injured at Roland Garros in 2016. Much like Djokovic, Nadal had a two-year period in which he simply wasn’t the same player. In 2017, however, Rafa became Rafa again, and he has won two more French Opens to move to 11 championships at Roland Garros.
Djokovic is back. Rafa is Rafa. These are the two favorites. Don’t listen to other views.
Halep Is The Women’s Favorite, But Look At Her Draw
In each of the previous two major tournaments, Simona Halep has been drawn to face Serena Williams in the fourth round. At the 2018 U.S. Open, Halep didn’t get that far and lost in the first round. In the 2019 Australian Open, Halep and Serena did meet, with Serena winning in three sets. Serena’s world ranking has been limited by her maternity leave and other disruptions to her tennis career, so Serena – who will probably be seeded somewhere from 10 to 12 (or close to it) for this tournament – will play a top-eight player midway through the tournament if higher seeds win their matches in the first week of the two-week event. It is smart to pick Simona Halep – who has made each of the last two French Open women’s finals – to win the event, but check to see If Serena is in her section or quarter of the draw before you make a pick.
Thiem and Zverev Aren’t Ready Yet
Dominic Thiem has played Rafael Nadal in the last two French Opens – in 2017 in the semifinals, last year in the final. He did not win a single set of the six sets he played against Rafa. It simply does not make sense to pick Thiem to upset Nadal. You might pick Thiem against Djokovic based on his 2017 French Open win over the Serb, but remember that Djokovic was not healthy back then. Don’t get sucked in to that kind of bet.
Alexander Zverev has never gone beyond the quarterfinals of the French Open. He has to at least get to the semifinals first. Don’t bother picking him to win it all.
Sloane Stephens Is A Player To Stay Away From
The truth about Sloane Stephens is that while she can be a tremendous player, and showed as much in her run to the 2018 Roland Garros final, she is notoriously unreliable from week to week. She plays great in one tournament and terribly in the next. She has an up-and-down identity which is not conducive to making high-percentage bets. You don’t want to trust her to win this tournament.