The French Open is the second of the four Grand Slam tournaments and the only one played on clay, making it a unique tennis betting test. It is held at Roland Garros in Paris and takes place over two weeks starting in late May and is a key date in for tennis betting fans.
With 128 players in each singles main draw, the Grand Slams offer the most matches and the most opportunities for tennis bettors to make money over the space of a fortnight.
Soon after the French Open has been completed, outright (to win the tournament) odds will be available for the following year’s event. Expect to see the finalists and past winners very much to the fore of the betting.
These odds will change a little due to subsequent Grand Slam results but the most activity is occurs in the month before the French Open when the European clay-court season is up and running. There is a men’s Masters event in Monte-Carlo and a women’s Premier Mandatory event in Stuttgart before the two main warm-up competitions - the Madrid Open and the Italian Open.
As well as being the slowest of all surfaces, clay makes the ball bounce highest. This means winners are hard to come by with long baseline rallies the norm. The French Open is a serious test of stamina but without the jarring and muscle strain of hard courts. Matches lasting in excess of five hours for the men, who play best-of-five sets at Grand Slams, are not uncommon.
There are plenty of opportunities and markets, pre-match and in-play. As well as the winner of a match, you can bet on the winner of a specified set, the match score, the score in a set, even the score or number of points in a game.
With 128 players in the main draw, there are also a plethora of markets other than outright. Popular bets include which player will win their quarter of the draw, odds on a player to reach the final, and naming the two finalists. For top players, there may be odds available on how far they will get.
The slow speed of clay courts is crucial when betting on the French Open with the surface favouring baseline sluggers over more attacking players. A strong serve, such a potent weapon on faster surfaces, is rendered less effective on clay.
This makes holding serve far more difficult on clay than anywhere else. The ball sits up nicely and a top-class returner can put pressure on the server. With long rallies the standard, athletic ability is key. A top clay-court player can scramble across the baseline forever, and keep the ball deep in order to try and force the error.
Learning to slide and move on clay takes practice, and the courts are conducive to spin making drop shots and kick serves particularly effective. The ‘moonball’ - a high looping shot landing near the baseline and bouncing up towards the opponent’s head - can also be a useful tactic.
Making winners is not easy due to the slow surface, but having a blistering forehand like Rafael Nadal (11 French Open titles and counting) helps. Even so, that shot only usually becomes a winner when the opponent is out of position.
As Roger Federer said after finally winning the French Open in 2009, “On clay you don't need to have a volley. You almost don't need to have a serve. All you need to have is legs, an incredible forehand and backhand and to run things down.”
|Year||Men's Winner||Men's Runner-Up||Score|
|2019||Rafael Nadal||Dominic Thiem||6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1|
|2018||Rafael Nadal||Dominic Thiem||6-4, 6-3, 6-2|
|2017||Rafael Nadal||Stan Wawrinka||6-2, 6-3, 6-1|
|2016||Novak Djokovic||Andy Murray||3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4|
|2015||Stan Wawrinka||Novak Djokovic||4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4|
|2014||Rafael Nadal||Novak Djokovic||3–6, 7–5, 6–2, 6–4|
|Year||Women's Winner||Women's Runner-Up||Score|
|2018||Ashleigh Barty||Marketa Vondrousova||36-1, 6-3|
|2018||Simona Halep||Sloane Stephens||3–6, 6–4, 6–1|
|2017||Jelena Ostapenko||Simona Halep||4–6, 6–4, 6–3|
|2016||Garbine Muguruza||Serena Williams||7–5, 6–4|
|2015||Serena Williams||Lucie Safarova||6-3, 6-7, 6-2|
|2014||Maria Sharapova||Simona Halep||6-4, 6-7, 6-4|
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