Tennis Betting Tips: Back Casper Ruud Each-Way At The French Open

Tennis Betting Tips: Back Casper Ruud Each-Way At The French Open
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Sean Calvert’s Tennis Tips:


The second major of 2022 gets underway on Sunday in Paris, as the world’s best tennis players begin two weeks of clay court action at the French Open and betting sites are ready for the first serve of the tournament.

This year’s men’s singles looks set to feature a fascinating battle between the teen sensation Carlos Alcaraz and the established elite of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

Meanwhile, the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev are seeking their first Coupe des Mousquetaires.

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Conditions And Trends

We’re back at Stade Roland Garros once more this fortnight and as usual playing conditions will depend on the fickle Paris weather, with early indications suggesting that it’ll be overcast for the first few days.

That’s something punters will need to keep a close eye on when it comes to the French Open betting markets, with rain likely to arrive at some point during the competition. That would slow down conditions on most courts and lead to matches being played under the roof on Chatrier court.

As far as stats are concerned, the French Open men’s singles has averaged 75% service holds in the last six years and usually ranks rock bottom in terms of underdog winners at around 20%. However, that figure was boosted by an unusually large number of outsider victories in 2020 (31%) when it was played in September.



It’s rarely a tournament these days that sees any upsets in the identity of the champion, with only Stan Wawrinka’s 25/1 success in 2015 deviating from the usual Nadal/Djokovic stranglehold in the last decade or so.

That said, the number one seed has only won the title four times in the last nine editions, but that’s mainly because Nadal wasn’t often top seed in the rankings coming into Roland Garros.

No qualifier has made it as far as the quarter finals this century, with Marcelo Filippini the last man to do it in 1999.

The Contenders

Novak Djokovic - Seed 1

Seeded number one again in Paris by virtue of the Serb winning the title in Rome last week (he would have been replaced by Daniil Medvedev had he not made the semis) it would appear as though Djokovic is peaking at the right time.

He always says that it takes him several weeks to play his best on the clay and this year that task was made harder by his absence from the tour due to his vaccination status.

On his Rome form you’d have to give him a big chance of defending the French Open title at 2/1 with Ladbrokes for the first time in his career, but I’m still concerned about his stamina in a two-week, best-of-five tournament.

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He talked in Rome about “not feeling so good on court” during the win over Casper Ruud and it was only a month or so ago that he could barely finish a three-set match in Belgrade, so the worry for Djokovic backers isn’t form, it’s fitness.

He’s in Q1 of the draw, alongside Nadal, Diego Schwartzman and Felix Auger-Aliassime and it’s hard to see (with Nadal’s injury in mind) him not making what will be an eagerly anticipated semi-final clash with Alcaraz.

Daniil Medvedev - Seed 2

It’s not often that a number two seed is rated as a rank outsider (50/1 with Unibet) for a major.

However, that has to be the case with Medvedev, who’s made no secret of his dislike for playing on clay and in any case, he’s only just come back from a couple of months off due to a hernia.

The Russian made his return to the tour a few days ago in Geneva, but lost in his first match, and his career record of only 42% match wins on clay (compared to 74% on hard courts) backs up the theory that Medvedev’s ambitions in Paris will be limited to perhaps equalling his run to the quarter finals last season.

Alexander Zverev - Seed 3

Alexander Zverev

I wonder which Zverev will show up in Paris this week? The one we saw in the latter half of last season that was superb or the more irregular one that has spells of good tennis followed by some huge dips in level?

I’m not sure that even Zverev himself can answer that question and it must be a huge source of frustration for the German that he’s been unable to carry on in 2022 how he left off the 2021 season.

Zverev’s best performance this year came in quicker conditions at altitude in Madrid, where he’s won 19 of his 22 career matches.

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However, in slower conditions in Paris he’s found it tougher going and only last year (when he faced nobody ranked inside the top-40 until the semis) did he manage his best result of a semi-final finish.

If the very best Zverev shows up and stays at his peak level for two weeks then he’s right in there with a chance at 22/1, but he’s yet to show he can do that at Roland Garros and the suspicion remains that he’ll fold when the pressure is really on in a major semi-final or a final.

He’s drawn in Alcaraz’s Q2 of the draw and unless the Spaniard loses early on it’s hard to see Zverev beating Alcaraz, then probably Djokovic and then winning a final.


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Stefanos Tsitsipas - Seed 4

It’s been a season of tinkering for last year’s finalist, after shoulder surgery, changes in the makeup of his strings (and then changing them back again once his shoulder improved) and adding Thomas Enqvist and Patrick Mouratoglou to his team.

He’s had a very decent clay swing, with a Masters 1000 title in Monte-Carlo and a final in Rome, plus semis in Madrid and quarters in Barcelona.

But, he doesn’t look to be in quite the same class as Djokovic and Alcaraz and I think he knows it, saying after the Rome loss to Djokovic:

“Right now, I need to improve a few things in my game. I don't know if I'm going to get there, but I hope I do with my hard work by the time Roland Garros begins. I’d love myself to get around with these players and be there with them. But I will really need to put a bit more attention to detail in the next couple of weeks.”

Clay stats put him close to Djokovic and Alcaraz, hence his status as one of the favourites (5/1), but he’s never beaten Djokovic in five attempts on clay and he was taken apart by Alcaraz in Barcelona, so the feeling I have with him is that he’s a level just below the elite.

That’s borne out by his record of 4-13 win/loss in his last 17 matches versus top-five ranked players, but his draw has been kind - away from Djokovic, Nadal, Alcaraz and Zverev - and it looks likely to be Tsitsipas and Ruud battling for a semi-final spot, with the winner likely to go on and make the final.

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Rafael Nadal - Seed 5

Could this be the final time that we see Rafael Nadal strutting his stuff on Court Philippe Chatrier?

It’s quite possible and given Nadal’s current - and possibly career-ending - foot injury you’re taking a big gamble on the King of Clay being able to last the distance at Roland Garros this year.

Things were looking good for Nadal in Rome when he was halfway to demolishing Denis Shapovalov, two tournaments into his comeback from a rib injury, but then the foot problem that kept him out of the second half of last season flared up again and he could barely move for the last half of that Shapo match.

Of the injury, he said: “Since I came back, the foot has been tough. It's tough for me to be able to practise the proper way days in a row. So, then you need to move well to compete at the highest level, [and it’s] something that I am not able to practise.

“I am a player living with an injury; it is nothing new. It's something that is there. Unfortunately, my day-by-day is difficult, honestly… it’s difficult for me to accept the situation sometimes.”

The draw hasn’t been kind either, with Nadal paired with Djokovic in Q1 and his route to another Roland Garros final is blocked by the world number one and probably Alcaraz as well.

Carlos Alcaraz - Seed 6

Carlos Alcaraz

It would seem as if with one door apparently closing for Spanish tennis fans another is opening - or, more accurately, has already opened - with Alcaraz looking set to pick up right where Nadal left off.

The champion of Miami, Barcelona and Madrid enters just his second French Open main draw as the 2/1 joint favourite (with Djokovic) to land a maiden Grand Slam title.

He won’t be the youngest French Open men’s singles champion (or even in the top-five youngest) and he won’t equal Nadal’s achievement of winning it at his first attempt, but it looks certain that the new kid on the block will be a very strong contender for the title.

The stats say that it’s between Alcaraz and Djokovic for the title and given the level of his tennis, his fighting qualities and his ability to remain calm and positive under pressure it’s hard to say he won’t lift the Coupe des Mousquetaires in a couple of weeks’ time.

He’s not been given the easiest of draws though, with Djokovic, Nadal and Zverev all in his half, but it’s all too easy to see it being a Djokovic/Alcaraz semi-final in the top half of the draw.

Andrey Rublev - Seed 7

The draw was all-important for Rublev to have had any chance of a deep run at the 2022 French Open and he’s got the perfect one in Q4 alongside compatriot Medvedev.

The Russian’s record of 10 wins and 12 losses in the last two years versus top-10 ranked opposition and zero titles above ATP 500 level shows that he simply isn’t good enough to win a major without huge assistance from a very kind draw, but he’s got that this time.



Last year here, Zverev made the semis without facing a top-40 ranked player and while that might not be the case for Rublev here, the Russian still has a decent chance of making the last four in what looks a wide-open fourth quarter of the draw.

Casper Ruud - Seed 8

Now that Alcaraz has arrived on the scene few people are now talking up Ruud as a possible French Open champion, but with the draw he’s been given he may make the final.

The Norwegian had a really poor start to a clay swing where much was expected of him after he made the final in Miami, but he went 4-4 win/loss from Monte-Carlo to Madrid and finally started to show better form in Rome.

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It could be argued that he’s peaking at the right time, and he went to Geneva to get another week of clay tennis under his belt this past week (at the time of writing he’s into the semi-finals there) and he can’t argue with his draw in Q3 away from the market leaders (except Tsitsipas).

Stats say that he’s in the same ballpark as the best in the business on clay, but he’s vulnerable to big hitters (Rublev has beaten Ruud five times in six career meetings) and his record versus top-five opposition is 3-11 win/loss (1-4 on clay). It’s hard to see him winning the title, but the final is possible.

Indeed, Ruud’s price has halved to 25/1 with Betfair since the draw came out and he looks the value play with Tsitsipas short to win the title.



Possible Outsiders

The French Open hasn’t been the place to try and find big-priced each-way bets this past 15 years or so and it probably won’t be again this year, but those in with some sort of chance of making the quarters this year have to be the ones in Q4.

With Medvedev far from certain to make it past week one, the likes of Jannik Sinner, Andrey Rublev, Pablo Carreno Busta, Miomir Kecmanovic and Nikoloz Basilashvili should fancy their chances.

It would be no real surprise if one of those names made it to the semi-finals and from there they’d need to be fortunate to progress, but those five look the best of the bigger prices.

Conclusion

With the draw having put Djokovic, Nadal, Alcaraz and Zverev together in the top half and Medvedev, Ruud, Tsitsipas and Rublev in the bottom half the obvious play is to back Ruud each-way at 25/1.

The Norwegian’s clay stats make him the clear pick compared to Tsitsipas and it’s worth recalling that Ruud beat Tsitsipas in their only main level clay meeting in Madrid last season.

One point each-way then is the wager on Ruud, with Djokovic and Alcaraz expected to face off in the semi finals to decide who progresses to the final from the top half.

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