Can Djokovic or Thiem deny Nadal a 13th Frenchy?

Nadal vs Federer RG 2007
Although the French Open, also known as Roland Garros, is still a few months away, slated to get started in the last week of May 2020, the Latin American clay-court swing is well and truly underway now, and as several early French Open favourites and contenders are fine-tuning their craft on the red dirt in South America, looking to boost their chances for a concentrated push in Paris likely, it’s only fitting that a glance is cast at early French Open odds that are currently trading at various sports betting platforms. If only to spot some early value favourites.

Rafael Nadal understandably leads the charge in outright winner markets across sports betting platforms on account of his glittering Parisienne resume that includes 12 titles and a 93-2 win-loss record overall. The only two defeats Nadal has suffered at the French Open are: a R16 loss to Robin Soderling in 2009 and a quarterfinal loss to Novak Djokovic in 2015.

The Spaniard is without doubt the best clay-court player in the history of the game, a nod that has earned him the moniker ‘King of Clay’ and is underpinned by a remarkable 59-8 win-loss record in clay-court tournament finals overall – none of which includes a loss in the French Open final, mind you. Over his beloved kingdom, Nadal’s 12-0 win-loss record in the final is absolutely exacting and ruthless.

As such, the main soundbite ahead of the French Open is sure to focus primarily on Nadal’s bid for a 13th French Open title, which will also include a bid for his 20th overall major title to equal Roger Federer in the history books with the most triumphs at a Grand Slam event. For tennis betting aficionados, Nadal, who is priced at -120 at Heritage Sportsbook , is certainly worth a tickle in early tennis picks. How could one not include Nadal in some way shape or form?

Speaking of Roger Federer’s 20-title haul at majors, merely one of those has La Coupe des Mousquetaires gracing his trophy cabinet. The Swiss maestro won the lone title eleven years ago, at the expense of Robin Soderling, who upset Nadal in the R16. In recent years, Federer has avoided the clay-court season entirely – missing the 2016 installment with a back injury before giving the entire spring stretch a skip in 2017 and 2018.

The last term, Federer re-joined the ATP Tour for Madrid, Rome, and Paris, reaching the quarterfinals in both aforementioned Masters events and then the semifinals of Roland Garros in his first appearance since 2015. Nadal proved to be Federer’s kryptonite yet again, besting Federer in straight sets to improve to a 6-0 lifetime record against the Swiss in Paris.

Of the so-called ‘Big Three’ players (Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic) in the men’s game, the Swiss is arguably the outside bet to win the 2020 French Open, evinced nowhere more so than by his hefty price tag of +2000.

This isn’t to say the maestro can’t win a second career title on the terre battue of Court Philippe Chatrier, but – let’s face it – it’s going to be a longshot if historical trends were any indication.

Adding to this sense of an outlier’s punt is the fact that he’s reportedly slated to participate in just one clay-court event this season, if at all. Federer may well give the whole spring session a miss entirely according to this tweet from Swiss tennis writer, Rene Stauffer.

Assuming Fed does attend this year’s Frenchy though, any lack of prep is going to be concerning nevertheless and is sure to take the shine off of his tennis odds, particularly deeper into the draw where he’s likely to cross paths with any number of dirtballers that are sure to be in form.

Talking about in-form players brings us neatly to Novak Djokovic, who is flush off his 17th major title victory (and eighth overall) at the Australian Open. The Serbian cuts a fine figure on the tennis odds board  as the second best bet at +300.

For value hunters, betting on Nole (as he’s fondly known by his fans) is steal tennis bet considering his Grand Slam credentials, not to mention his lifetime 29-26 record against Rafael Nadal, which includes a 21-10 win-loss record since 2011 and a 16-11 overall win-loss record in finals of tournaments.

If ever there was a player that could potentially deny Nadal in the French Open final (should the opportunity present), it’s Djokovic hands down. He’s painstakingly become Nadal’s kryptonite in recent years, and he’s just one of two players to have bested the Spaniard at his cherished French Open (quarters in 2015).

Yet, it’s worth mentioning the Serbian hasn’t beaten his arch-rival on clay since 2016. Nadal leads the head-to-head lifetime on clay 17-7, which includes a three-match winning streak on the red dirt going back to 2017. Nadal beat Djokovic in the Mutua Madrilena semis and then the BNL d’Italia semis in 2017, before extending his winning streak a year later in the BNL d’Italia final in three sets.

To conclude this piece without giving Dominic Thiem a mention would be tantamount to gross negligence because of all the current players dubbed by tennis experts as potential future Grand Slam champions, Thiem has been the player making the most inroads on clay. Indeed, the Austrian has been to back-to-back French Open finals, prompting a very tasty price tag that puts him on par to Djokovic at +300 with Heritage.

Thiem fell to Nadal in straight sets in his first appearance in Paris in 2018 and then in four sets in his second appearance a year later. However, he did recently best Nadal in an epic four-set semi-final Down Under before losing to Djokovic in an equally epic five-set final. If there ever was a player to spot outside of the so-called ‘Big Three’ in Grand Slam betting, Thiem could very well fit the bill nicely.

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