In order to prolong his sporting longevity, Roger Federer has adopted an age-old mantra — quality over quantity.
So far, the 35-year-old has entered just four tournaments this year. That’s far fewer than Rafael Nadal (8), Andy Murray (7), Dominic Thiem (12), or any other ATP number one contender.
But of the four competitions he’s played, Federer has won three. And his wins at the Australian Open, Indian Wells Masters, and Miami Open have been enough to vault him into second place in the ATP points race.
In a post on his website Monday, Federer announced he will not participate in the French Open, choosing instead to focus his energy on Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
Clay has never been Federer’s forte, and especially now with Nadal back in form, his chances this year are pretty slim. While his game plan makes perfect sense, it’s still a bummer to see him skip Roland Garros.
Serena Williams won’t be in attendance either, as she’s pregnant with her first child. Having two of the best players in the game skip the Open is a huge blow for tennis, but it’s great news for their competitors.
How will it affect the odds? Here’s a look at the numbers.
Odds to win the Men’s French Open
Rafael Nadal: 11/9
Novak Djokovic: 4/1
Andy Murray: 9/1
Stan Wawrinka: 11/1
Dominic Thiem: 16/1
Federer’s withdrawal hasn’t really affected the Men’s odds. Nadal and Novak Djokovic still tower above their competitors when it comes to clay and Federer was an outside favorite to begin with anyway.
Nadal just picked up a win at the Madrid Open, a clay court precursor to the French Open. He defeated Djokovic quite easily (6-2, 6-4) in the semifinals and went on to beat Thiem in the finals. The last three clay court events — Madrid Masters, Barcelona Open, and Monte-Carlo Masters — have all been won by Nadal. In those, Djokovic never even reached the finals. Saying that, Djokovic is the the reigning French Open champ, so we know he can have success on the clay.
Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka are next in line, but their chances aren’t great. Andy Murray has been disappointing this season and Wawrinka doesn’t have a great track record against the big four. Still, Murray was runner up at last year’s tournament and Wawrinka won it the year before.
Dominic Thiem has a great record on clay and reached the finals of the Barcelona Open and Madrid Masters this year, losing to Nadal both times. He’s been on the radar since last year, when he reached the semis. Since then, the 23-year-old Austrian has only improved. He’ll be one to watch.
Odds to win the Women’s French Open:
[Updated as of May 16 at 12:30pm]
Simona Halep: 7/1
Maria Sharapova: 6/1
Garbine Muguruza: 10/1
Angelique Kerber: 12/1
Karolina Pliskova: 15/1
Simona Halep has never won a Grand Slam but she starts Roland Garros as the favorite. Her recent Madrid Open win puts her above Garbine Muguruza and Angelique Kerber, who have both had disappointing seasons so far.
Muguruza, the defending champ, recently bombed out on the clay courts. It’s the same story for current number one Kerber, who also has a pretty poor record on the clay court.
Maria Sharapova is the one to watch at the moment. After a lengthy doping ban, the two-time French Open winner is back to make up for lost time. But she hasn’t been granted a wildcard spot at the French Open yet, and we’ll find out very soon if she’s even eligible to play.
One player who fans were excited to see was Maria Sharapova. But the president of the French Tennis Federation denied her a wildcard entry, saying a wild card can be issued for a return from injury, but not for a return from doping. Bernard Giudicelli also added that it’s his responsibility to protect the game.
Sharapova made her return last month after a 15-month doping ban.
So without Williams and Sharapova, the Women’s competition is pretty wide open.
Photo credit: arn Caradec [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]