Options Vary for Men's, Women's French Open Tennis Betting

As has been the case recently, it looks like no more than a handful of men are in the tennis betting mix but as many as 25 women have plausible odds to capture singles titles at the sport's second Grand Slam event of the year, the French Open (Les internationaux de France de Roland-Garros) beginning in Paris, May 28.

Defending champion Rafael Nadal, the owner of a modern record-equaling (with Bjorn Borg) six French Open singles titles, is the even money favorite, largely because the French Open is contested on clay, a surface on which the Spaniard excels. More specifically, “The King of Clay” is a near perfect 45-1 on the red clay at Roland Garros, his only defeat coming in the fourth round of the 2009 French Open when “Rafi” was suffering from tendinitis in both knees.

Novak Djokovic, the 3/2 second choice and the reigning No. 1 ranked player in the world, would be favored on any other surface. The Serbian won three Major titles last year, the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, as well as this year's Australian Open in January. But in seven tries, Djokovic has never reached a French Open final. Nadal and Djokovic have met 12 times on clay with the former holding a 10-2 advantage.

At odds of 8/1, Switzerland's Roger Federer also is a contender in Paris. Federer, who owns a record 16 Grand Slam titles, won the French Open in 2009 and has been the runner-up on four other occasions, including last year. Federer and Nadal have met 14 times on clay with Nadal enjoying a huge 12-2 edge, but Federer is coming off a victory in the Madrid Open in which he overtook Nadal for the No. 2 world ranking.

Juan Martin Del Potro, 12/1, and Andy Murray, 14/1, are the only other men's players with future book betting odds under 33/1. Del Potro won the US Open in 2009 for his only Grand Slam title and though he's never done better than reach the semi-finals at the French Open (2009) is considered a quality player on clay. Although he's never won a Major, in 2011, Murray became only the seventh player in the Open era to reach the semi-finals of all four Grand Slam tournaments in one year.

Emphasizing the top-heavy nature of the field, David Ferrer, 33/1, Tomas Berdych, 40/1, and John Isner, 66/1, are the only other players offered at odds of under 100/1 in men's singles futures.

By contrast, the ladies' field has more players (nine) at odds of 20/1 or less than the men's field has at under 100/1 (eight).

Victoria Azarenka, who took over the women's No. 1 ranking after winning the Australian Open in January, began as a 3/1 favorite to capture her second consecutive Major with Serena Williams the 7/2 second choice in futures. But the women switched roles after Williams vanquished Azarenka in the finals of the Madrid Open, 6-1, 6-3, and now Williams is the 3/1 favorite and Azarenka is the 7/2 second choice.

A winner of 13 Grand Slam singles titles, at age 30, Williams has the most experience of any of the contenders. But of the American's 13 Major wins, just one has come at the French Open, a decade ago in 2002, and 2011 was the first year since 2007 in which Williams failed to win a Grand Slam singles title.

Azarenka, from Belarus, has competed in the last six French Opens, her best finish being a pair of quarterfinal appearances in 2009 and 2011. But at just 22 years of age, Azarenka has her best tennis ahead of her.

A winner of the 2011 Wimbledon title and the 2011 WTA Tour Championship while becoming the first Grand Slam event titleholder born in the 1990s, Petra Kvitova opened as the 6/1 third choice in French Open tennis betting futures. Kvitova also reached the semifinals of the 2010 Wimbledon Championships and the 2012 Australian Open. But the 22-year-old Czech southpaw, who is ranked No. 4 in the world, hasn't made it past the fourth round in three visits to Roland Garros.

Maria Sharapova, who has climbed to No. 2 in the world rankings, is offered at odds of 8/1 to win the French Open, the only Grand Slam event that has evaded the 25-year-old Russian. Sharapova signaled she was in good form when she was the runner-up to Azarenka in Melbourne earlier this year but in nine attempts has never made a French Open final, reaching the semis in both 2007 and 2011.

Reigning US Open champion Samantha Stosur is listed at 10/1 to win the 2012 French Open. The Aussie was a finalist at the French open in 2010 and reached the semifinals in Paris in 2009.

Defending French Open champion Li Na of China, who upset the field last year at odds of 25/1, is held at 12/1. Li also was the runner-up at the Australian Open last year but has slipped to No. 8 in the world rankings after reaching No. 4 last summer.

Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska and Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki also are in the hunt. The 14/1 Radwanska, who is ranked No. 3 in the world, has reached the fourth round of the French Open in three of the last four years. Still looking for her first victory in a Major, Wozniacki, 16/1, a former No. 1 who now is ranked sixth in the world, has reached the quarterfinals once in five visits to the French Open.

With the women's bracket as wide open with contenders as the men's bracket is limited with legitimate betting alternatives, the French Open betting presents some interesting options for gamblers this year.