TWO weeks of French Open action. Who wins the Women’s competition? We asked tennis trader Mark Stinchcombe (@markstinchcombe).
French Open | Women’s Outright | 24th May – 7th June
Two-time previous champion Serena Williams heads the betting at 11/4 in the women’s draw. It’s hard to disagree with her favouritism with figures like 57-4 on this surface since returning from injury in 2011 and picking up titles here in Paris, Madrid twice, Charleston twice, Rome and Bastad. And of course because she’s only lost three times in 30 matches this year.
However, her preparations haven’t been great for Roland Garros and her fitness is a concern. She lost in the semi’s of Madrid to Petra Kvitova where she cited she was exhausted, then withdrew after just one match in Rome with an elbow injury to which she said “I’ve had some really good treatment that has been able to alleviate it and make the symptoms go down substantially. It’s a lot better.”
At Indian Wells, a tournament she rarely plays, (so another one for her schedule) she withdrew with a knee injury this time. Add this to the fact her performances at slams the last couple of years have been a bit bizarre.
She lost to Alize Cornet in the 3rd round of Wimbledon last year. She lost to Muguruza 6-2 6-2 in the 2nd round here last year, a week after winning Rome, with Garbine having entered the tournament in no form at all with defeats in five of her previous six at the 2nd round or earlier.
Just a few months before she lost to Ana Ivanovic in the 4th round of Australia complaining of a back problem. The year before again in Australia she lost to Sloane Stephens due to injury. Then here two years ago there was that ridiculous 1st round exit to Virginie Razzano.
With a potential 3rd round meeting with Victoria Azarenka (who should have beaten her in Madrid, Azarenka had three match points on her own serve), there are enough doubts surrounding Williams.
Defending champion Maria Sharapova comes into Paris on the back of winning Rome for the third time in her career. Since 2012 Sharapova has won 63 of her 69 clay-court matches including twice winning Roland Garros and finishing runner-up. Three of those defeats have been to Serena but with Maria back to number two in the world, the pair can’t potentially meet until the final.
Last years runner-up Simona Halep had enjoyed a good season with wins in Indian Wells, Dubai and Shenzhen until the clay swing where she has failed to make the final of all three tournaments. She’ll be disappointed with her performances too after making the final here and Madrid last year, as well as winning Bucharest.
She looked as though she was finding some form after making the semi’s of Rome dropping just seven games but then lost to Suarez-Navarro in a topsy-turvy match where both women struggled on serve and Simona hit 60 unforced errors. She has a negative 3-4 record against the top 10 this year and at the same price as Sharapova, she’s not someone I’d want to get involved with.
Petra Kvitova is another who looks short in the betting at 11/1. Despite winning in the altitude of Madrid she has a poor record in both Paris and Rome going beyond the 4th round here just once.
Azarenka is still a long way from her best after return from injury. She’s made the quarters or further just twice in seven tournaments this year and is 0-4 v Serena and Maria on clay. She’s been struggling with her serve recently aswell, double faulting numerous times, and as a result she’s taken so much off it she leaves herself vulnerable to anyone who attacks it.
Caroline Wozniacki has an awful record here making the quarter finals just once and has had a poor year against the top players going 4-8 against the top 20.
Carla Suarez Navarro has been making waves on the WTA this year being the first women to record 30 wins. However, despite her consistent performances she hasn’t won a title and is vulnerable to big hitters. She’s 1-6 v the top 3 this year and being in the same half as Sharapova and Halep, she would potentially have to beat them all to win the championship.
The likes of Eugenie Bouchard, Ana Ivanovic and Agnieszka Radwanska have all had poor years. Karolina Pliskova was someone who was an interesting proposition at 150/1 after making the finals of Dubai and Sydney and winning on the clay of Prague, but she’s followed that up with early exits in Rome and Madrid. She also hasn’t been past the 2nd round here before.
Angelique Kerber has title wins in Stuttgart and Charleston to her name this year but is another who has a poor record here with just one quarter final appearance and her withdrawal this week against Roberta Vinci with a back problem would be a concern.
Ekaterina Makarova’s game doesn’t suit the clay and actually has more losses than wins on this surface over the last few years.
One woman I do want to put up though is Timea Bacsinszky who is a huge 400/1 with Stan James. It’s been somewhat of a breakthrough year for Bacsinszky with titles in Monterrey and Acapulco as well as making the final of Shenzhen.
Victories include wins against Karolina Pliskova, Sabine Lisicki, Agnieszka Radwanska, Elina Svitolina, Makarova, Carolina Garcia, Sara Errani, Jelena Jankovic and Kvitova – impressive!
Last one is Daria Gavrilova. She’s burst onto the scene this year and is playing with real confidence. Wins against Sharapova and Ivanovic as well as taking a set off Halep and making the semi’s of Rome are very impressive. She’s 20th in the WTA road to Singapore and with negatives over many of the top 20 is worth a small bet at 500/1 with Ladbrokes.
Women’s French Open – Maria Sharapova to win (9/2 William Hill)
Women’s French Open – Timea Bacsinszky each way (400/1 Stan James)
Women’s French Open – Daria Gavrilova each way (500/1 Ladbrokes)