2011 French Open – Roland Garros
The eyes of the sporting world will be on Roland Garros in the next couple of weeks for The French Open; the second Grand Slam event of the year. The premier clay court tournament in the world, this year’s promises to be one of the most intriguing in some time.
To say that the men’s tournament is considered a two horse race is something of an understatement. The bookies believe that this year’s Men’s French Open is a straight fight between the king of clay, Rafael Nadal, and a man in unbelievable form, Novak Djokovic.
Nadal is the 10/11 favourite to secure his sixth title in Paris and is a worthy favourite. The Spaniard’s fourth round defeat to Robin Soderling in 2009 remains his only defeat at Roland Garros and so it’s no surprise to see the world number one installed as favourite for this year’s tournament.
However, the form player in men’s tennis is Novak Djokovic. Uneaten since the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals last November, the Serb is closing in on John McEnroe’s record of consecutive wins from the start of a calendar year. Djokovic has already taken the Australian Open title in 2010 and recently beat Nadal in the finals in Madrid and Rome.
At 11/8 there will be plenty of backers for Djokovic to continue his sensational run at Roland Garros.
Beyond the top two, the bookies don’t give much of a chance to any other player. 2009 champion Roger Federer is a distant 18/1 third favourite in the betting and despite a win two years ago doesn’t have a great record on clay. The form of Andy Murray has been pretty woeful since his defeat in the Australian Open final and the Brit can be backed at 20/1.
For anyone looking for a long shot, Robin Soderling has reached the final at Roland Garros in each of the last two years and is available at 40/1. David Ferrer is a clay court specialist and may attract some interest at 33/1.
With neither of the Williams sisters in attendance, the Ladies French Open is the most open in years. A dozen players have decent claims on the title and finding a winner is a tricky business.
World number one Caroline Wozniacki is the 9/2 favourite and already has three titles under her belt in 2011. It could finally be the Dane’s chance to take a Grand Slam crown, although she can be susceptible to surprise defeats such as her loss to Julia Gorges in the recent Stuttgart final.
Last years’ finalists both have a good chance to repeat their efforts of twelve months ago. Reigning champion Francesca Schiavone is good value at 14/1 to retain her title whilst Samantha Stosur can be backed at 9/1 having reached the clay court final in Rome recently.
My two to watch at Roland Garros are Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka. After an injury lay off, Sharapova is back in the world’s top ten and won the recent Italian Open. The French Open is the only Grand Slam that the former world number one has never won, and at 7/1 I fancy her to go well here.
If you’re looking for a form player on tour then look no further than the 21 year old Victoria Azarenka. The Belarussian reached the French Open final in 2009 and has won two titles in 2011 as well as reaching the final in Madrid (another clay court tournament). I fancy Azarenka’s chances at 11/2.