The 2015 edition of Roland Garros will mark the first time in nine years that Spaniard Rafael Nadal – nine-time champion – is not the favorite. Instead, the momentum is leaning towards the world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
The 2015 French Open gets under way this Sunday (May 24) and will culminate with the men’s final on June 7.
Novak Djokovic (10/13): Roland Garros is the only Major tournament missing from Djokovic’s resume. After getting to the final twice in 2011 and 2014, “Nole” might not have a better opportunity than this year. He’s at the peak of his game and Nadal is decidedly not.
Djokovic won the ATP Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome just two weeks ago. He defeated Roger Federer in straight sets in the final of the clay court French Open tuneup, upping his record against top-ten players this season to 14-1.
An improved serve has been key to Djokovic’s recent domination. In 2011, he entered the French Open with 155 aces on the year; this time around, he comes in with 190.
“I don’t think I need to go and do anything more special for Roland Garros,” Djokovic said to the Associated Press. “I just need to keep going on [this] route.”
Rafael Nadal (5/2): Nadal’s health, which has been an ongoing concern for sometime, is once again an issue heading into the French Open, as a wrist injury has slowed him down. After losing to Andy Murray in straight sets in Madrid, “Rafa” was ousted from Rome by Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinals (7-6, 6-2).
Nadal is the most dominant clay court player in tennis history, though, taking nine French Open titles in the last ten years. (His only loss at Roland Garros came to Swede Robin Soderling in the 2009 quarterfinals.) Given his clay court prowess, Nadal is considered the man to beat by many on the ATP tour – injured or not.
“Regardless of what anyone says to me he’s the favorite,” Federer said of Nadal, according to USA Today. “The guy’s only lost once in ten years.”
Andy Murray (8/1): Andy Murray looked impressive in his win over Nadal in Madrid. But his best form was around 2012-2013, and he has never been in a Rolando Garros final. The 8/1 odds on Murray would be a decent payout should the Scotsman take the title, but there is little reason to expect such.
Kei Nishikori (16/1): Japan’s Kei Nishikori may be the next big thing in tennis, but he’s not at a level where he can challenge the top players at Roland Garros. He made the final at the US Open last year, but that was on hardcourt. The relative youngster remains a longshot in the odds.
Roger Federer (18/1): It’s safe to say Roger Federer’s best days are behind him, but you always have to consider him as a long value bet in any tournament. Federer’s last Grand Slam win was back in 2012, and he has won just two since 2010. Depending on his draw, making the final isn’t out of the question. But earning a second French Open title is going to be difficult for the aging Swiss national.
At the end of the day, there is really only one player that doesn’t amount to playing the lottery and that’s the best player in the world.
Pick: Novak Djokovic (10/13).
(Image: public domain (via Wikipedia).)