Tennis Betting: Men’s 2021 French Open
The 2021 men’s French Open is almost here. If you follow men’s tennis, you are familiar by now with the main question which gets asked every time Roland Garros approaches: Is this the year Rafael Nadal loses and gives way to someone else?
Nadal lost the 2015 and 2016 French Opens, but not under normal circumstances. Nadal was very unhealthy several months before the 2015 French Open. His body was undergoing all sorts of changes, and it was clear entering the tournament that he was not the player he once was. Nadal went through a two-year transition period, and in 2016, he had to withdraw from the French Open due to a wrist injury. Those are the only two times in the past 11 years that Nadal has failed to win this tournament. He will be seeking a 14th French Open championship at this year’s event. As a point of comparison, Pete Sampras won 14 major championships total. Nadal could win one specific major 14 times.
Rafael Nadal is the favorite. Novak Djokovic is the second favorite. Then comes the interesting debate surrounding the third and fourth contenders. Stefanos Tsitsipas won the Monte Carlo Masters in April and had a match point against Nadal in the recent Barcelona Open final. He beat Nadal on hardcourts at the Australian Open in February. He is probably the best player other than Nadal and Djokovic in this tournament. The mysterious player will be Dominic Thiem, who was injured in the Australian Open and did not play in either Miami or Monte Carlo. Thiem will try to play in Madrid and has sounded optimistic about his physical health. Thiem has not played any tennis in the past two months, however, so he really has to develop his game in the next three weeks if he wants to have a legitimate chance of threatening the big boys. Andrey Rublev and Jannik Sinner, who have both made Masters 1000 finals this year, are also legitimate threats in the men’s draw.
Djokovic is a force of nature. Thiem has made multiple Roland Garros finals. Tsitsipas came within one set of making last year’s Roland Garros final before Djokovic fended him off. Rublev is dangerous and confident on clay, as is Sinner. Yet, Rafael Nadal stands alone at Roland Garros. It is his most important tournament each year, and he plays like it. Beating Nadal in a best-of-three-set match on clay is hard but doable. Beating him in a best-of-five match in France is extraordinarily difficult. Only two men – Djokovic in 2015 and Robin Soderling in 2009 – have ever done it. This is legitimately the hardest thing to do in tennis other than winning a true calendar Grand Slam (not done since 1969). Nadal hasn’t been great in the warm-up clay events this year, but he wasn’t great in 2019, and he didn’t have much of any clay preparation in 2020 due to the pandemic. It didn’t matter. It hardly ever matters for Rafa. He is the favorite until someone beats him… and no one is likely to do so, again.
The draw might determine who can make a run. Anyone in Nadal’s draw becomes a much less likely threat at Roland Garros. Rublev, who made the Monte Carlo final, and Sinner, who hits heavy shots suited to clay, could both do damage if they are in Djokovic’s half of the draw. You’ll have to wait for the Roland Garros draw, however – it won’t be unveiled until the final week of May.