Tennis Betting Advice - May 2021

French Open: Day 1 picks – including a 25/1 rising star…

Sunday 30th May 2021

In your Ones to Watch email today:

  • Outright Winner picks…
  • Match picks…
  • Play starts 10am…

Here we go…

Good morning and welcome to Day 1 of your French Open 2021 daily service.

I’ll be in your inbox every morning for the next two weeks. And if you have any questions or want to drop me a line during the tournament, I’ll be on hand via email.

You can message me at:  

Outsider potential for the Outright Winner…

These Grand Slam tournaments only come along four times a year.  Roland Garros is the second one on the calendar – and the only ‘Slam played on clay. Let’s get started…

In recent years there’s been an eye-catching trend for big-price finalists in the women’s events. Not least two Ones to Watch youngsters: in 2017, Jelena Ostapenko was a 100/1 French Open champion. And last year – as if you need me to remind you – teenager Iga Swiatek blasted through the draw here in Paris, also winning at day-one odds of 100/1.

Rafael Nadal has won the men’s French Open title 13 times out of 16. The women’s is a different story:

The last 13 French Open titles have been won by 11 different women.

And the last five champions have all been women getting their hands on the Suzanne-Lenglen cup for the first time:

2016 – Garbine Muguruza @ 16/1
2017 – Jelena Ostapenko @ 100/1
2018 – Simona Halep @ 6/1
2019 – Ashleigh Barty @ 22/1
2020 – Iga Swiatek @ 100/1

We have all the encouragement we need to go after the outsiders and underdogs in Paris. And that’s exactly what we’ll be doing over the next two weeks.

A tale of two halves…

The 2021 draws shake things up, too. In the men’s, Roland Garros living legend Nadal is in the top half, along with world no.1 Novak Djokovic. And the 39-year-old Roger Federer, who maintains that his prime target this summer is to be fully match sharp for Wimbledon.

Nadal is an odds-on 5/6 (1.83) favourite to break his own French Open record, and win again. Djokovic is 5/1 at best. Federer is in with the outsiders at 80/1 & 66/1.

That men’s draw means that only one of the fabled big three can make it to the final. With the mouth-watering potential for a Nadal v Djokovic semi final. That leaves the bottom half of the draw open for a relative newcomer to make a charge.

Although not as pronounced in terms of the household names, it’s a similar story in the women’s draw…

The top half contains the ‘two reigning champions’ – 2020 breakout star Swiatek, and 2019 French Open holder & current world no.1, Ashleigh Barty. Opting to stay home in Australia during the pandemic, Barty wasn’t in Paris to defend her title last year.

The bookies make those the two favourites. Swiatek is 11/4 (3.75) – what a change from last season where we scooped the massive odds. Barty is next on the list at 5/1. Those prices have been made skinnier by the fact that 2018 champion and three-time Roland Garros finalist Simona Halep is out injured.

World no.2 and four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka is in the bottom half, and 14/1 for a first French Open title. It’s well-reported that Osaka has never won a trophy on clay. Naomi has yet to get past the 3rd round here in Paris. In the build-up to this year’s event, Osaka has lost two out of three matches on the European red dirt.

At 23 years of age, and with the talent she possesses, I can see why tennis legend Martina Navratilova thinks Osaka can yet come good on this playing surface:

“I don’t see Naomi being that confident with her sliding. But then Andre Agassi won the French Open without sliding. It can be done.”

Two already in the book at big prices…

The bottom half of this women’s French Open 2021 draw also contains our two 100/1+ early-bird picks:

  • The 18-year-old Canadian, Leylah Fernandez, who arrives here at a career-high of no.69 in the world

Both have already won titles on the WTA Tour this season, and have every chance to kick on and make 2021 their big breakthrough year at a Grand Slam.

As outlined above, the bottom half of this draw-sheet doesn’t look a bad place to be. Both have tricky but winnable 1st round matches today:

Fernandez takes on the erratic but improving 20-year-old (and a former Ones to Watch teenager), Anastasia Potapova. Fernandez won their only previous meeting, on hard courts in Acapulco last year – en route to her maiden WTA final.

Kudermetova faces another Ones to Watch youngster, Amanda Anisimova. The American teenager is always dangerous, bringing a big attacking game. This will be their first meeting. My feeling is that Kudermetova can reel her in, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it took the full three sets.

In each case, the bookies make our players the slight favourite to win through today, with Leylah and Veronika priced at around 4/5 (1.8) or 8/11 (1.73) each in the Match Winner markets.

  • In today’s opening Outright Winner prices, Fernandez is 300/1 with Bet365, and 150/1 at Skybet, BetVictor, Betfred, Betway, Ladbrokes, Coral, Boylesports. If you didn’t get on when originally flagged up at 400/1 and 100/1 in April, then now’s your chance
  • Ditto for Kudermetova, who was 300/1 and 100/1 when I wrote her up on 3rd May. She’s available today at a top price 50/1 with Boylesports, Paddy Power, Betfair Sportsbook, Betfred, BetVictor. As ever, my advice with the big prices is to bet Each Way, with terms of 1/2 odds for reaching the final

Rising star at 25/1…

In terms of other players that get underway today in the women’s, the one further name I want to get in the Outright Winner book this morning is Paula Badosa

The 23-year-old Spaniard is making a name for herself this season. With a superb stack of clay-court results over the last couple of months:

WTA 500 Charleston – semi final (lost to Kudermetova)
WTA 1000 Madrid – semi final (to lost Barty)
WTA 250 Belgrade – final – won

That magnificent run has seen Badosa win 13 out of 15 matches on clay, lift a maiden WTA title, and climb to a new career high of no.34 in the world. I called Paula a ‘Spanish Sharapova’ recently; she has the intensity and brutal hitting ability to go far.

Ahead of that semi-final streak in Madrid, we managed to get rank outsider odds of 200/1 on Badosa. She was only one match away from landing a massive share of the Each Way spoils there. That performance let the cat out of the bag somewhat in terms of the massive prices. But with a bottom-half draw here in Paris that avoids the aforementioned two favourites, Swiatek and Barty, odds of 25/1 across the board still make this rising Spanish star as an outsider with plenty of potential.

  • We’ll be adding more names to our Outright Winner book over the next day or two, as the 1st round takes place. We’ll also be looking to latch onto any in-form & value selections during the tournament, too
  • If you’d like to read more about young & upcomers players to keep an eye on this fortnight, this season & beyond – then check out my pre-season Ones to Watch in 2021 report here

Match Winner picks…

As well as going after the big prices in the Outright markets, you & I will also be looking to snap up any daily value and upset-chances in the Match Winner betting…

Ana Konjuh v Aryna Sabalenka

World no.4 Aryna Sabalenka lifted a first clay-court title last month, beating Barty in the final to win WTA Madrid. That form has propelled the 23-year-old Belarusian into the favourites for the French Open, with odds of 7/1 putting her right up there at third on the list. The two names above her have both won this title before (Barty and Swiatek). Like Osaka, Sabalenka has never been past the 3rd round at Roland Garros, although she has improved year on year (qualifying – 1st round – 2nd round – 3rd round).

I’ve noted before that the big-hitting Sabalenka can be a slow starter, or have spells in a match where the unforced errors creep in. She’s up against a tuned-in opponent in the 1st round today…

Since returning from injury, Ana Konjuh is having a real go at getting herself back to the top end of the women’s game. Still only 23 years old, the current no.144 is a former top 20 name. Compared to recent injury-ravaged seasons, Konjuh has started 2021 like a train, reaching a quarter final and a final on the main tour. Coming into this week, Ana has won nine out of 10 matches on clay, including three 2-0 wins in French Open Qualifying last week.

This match looks like a banana skin for Sabalenka; odds of 6/1 for Konjuh appeal, along with 4/1 for the underdog to start the better and take the 1st Set.

Clara Burel v Danka Kovinic

The other match price I like today is for French youngster Clara Burel to win 2-1, at odds of 7/2 (4.5) in the Set Betting market.

The 20-year-old arrives in Paris having won 10 of her last 13 matches on clay. Age 26, Kovinic is higher-ranked. But has lost three in a row. The bookies make this one 50-50, with both women trading at around 10/11 (1.91) each to win.

Six of Burel’s last eight wins have been in three sets, and for me, that stat makes the 2-1 Set Betting option a much more appealing route, at significantly bigger prices than the Match Winner.

Ones to Watch:

Women’s French Open

Outright Winner picks – Each Way:

  • Paula Badosa is 25/1 with William Hill, Skybet, Paddy Power, Betfair Sportsbook, BetVictor, Betfred, Betway, NetBet, 10Bet

And if you’re not on them already: Leylah Fernandez, and Veronika Kudermetova, as outlined above.

Each Way terms: 1/2 odds 1-2 places.

Match picks:

  • Ana Konjuh to beat Aryna Sabalenka is 6/1 with Bet365, 11/2 Betway, 5/1 William Hill
  • Ana Konjuh to win the 1st Set v Sabalenka is 4/1 with Bet365, 3/1+ in general
  • Set Betting – Clara Burel to win 2-1 v Danka Kovinic is 7/2 with Boylesports, Skybet, 10/3 in general

Play starts from 10am.

I’ll be back tomorrow at 8am with your Bets of the Day for Monday, including a first look at the Men’s Outright Winner market.

We’ve got two weeks of top-flight action to look forward to. Enjoy the tennis…

Best wishes,

Oliver Upstone

Tom Wilson

Ones to Watch