The 2012 French Open will be starting in roughly six to seven weeks and the event will feature Rafael Nadal going for his seventh title at Roland Garros. According to many, the most worthy challenger to Nadal is Novak Djokovic, as the current world No. 1 will be looking to complete a career slam.
There are several other players who look dangerous with the start of the clay court season on the near horizon. At this point, these are the odds for the Top 8 favorites to win the 2012 French Open outright:
- Nadal: 5/4 (+125), Coral
- Djokovic: 8/5 (+160), Bwin
- Federer: 12/1 (+1200), Bodog
- Murray: 16/1 (+1600), Bodog
- Del Potro: 20/1 (+2000), Ladbrokes
- David Ferrer: 33/1 (+3300), Bodog
- Tomas Berdych: 80/1 (+8000), Bodog
- Almagro: 125/1 (+12500), Paddy Power
One player who looks very underrated in the betting market is Nicolas Almagro of Spain. The current world No. 12 is 125-to-1 to win the title outright at Roland Garros, but he should be considered much more dangerous than that.
Almagro's clay-court credentials are clear as the Spaniard has appeared in 16 finals on the ATP Tour and all 16 of them have been in clay-court events. Hardly a slouch in those finals, Almagro has taken down 11 clay-court ATP titles including one in 2012 (Sao Paulo).
Almagro's most recent victory on clay came as part of a Davis Cup tie as the Spaniard defeated 2010 French Open semifinalist Jurgen Melzer in straight sets.
The victory attests to Almagro's form as he breezed through the match without losing a set or even facing a break point. Additionally, Melzer should be considered a quality opponent as the Austrian picked up a 500 series level title this season at ATP Memphis.
Those who are critical of Almagro's chances will no doubt be more impressed by the higher-ranked players. Nadal is practically beyond criticism at Roland Garros except to say that he is not playing his career-best tennis right now and perhaps he's more prone to upset now than he has been at many points in the past.
Djokovic is a bettor's dilemma at the French Open. He's never won the event in the past, and quite often his losses have been surprise upsets.
Roland Garros is where his winning streak to open 2011 came to a halt as Roger Federer took the Serb out in the semis. In 2010, Djokovic had Melzer all but beat in the quarters before the Austrian fought back from an 0-2 set deficit to shock the Serb in five.
At the 2009 French Open, Djokovic fell to Philipp Kohlschreiber in the tournament's third round, a player who rarely sees the second week of the majors.
Impressive as the he may be, the current world No. 1 always seems to find a way to get sidelined in an upset loss at the French.
In regard to Federer, 12 to 1 is flirty but not quite worth it. The Swiss Maestro, even in his younger days, only once won the French Open outright. He's definitely on form to start 2012, but I think he is likely to continue to struggle in the late rounds of Grand Slams against younger competition.
As far as the other players go, Murray's more of a threat for Slams now than he ever was, but you have to think that if the Scot breaks through, it will be on the hard court surface as opposed to the clay. But odds of 16 to 1 for the world No. 4 do not look terrible in my view.
Del Potro and Ferrer are both fine clay courters; however, neither are serious threats to win the French Open. Delpo is yet to see a Grand Slam semifinal following his comeback from injury, and Ferrer generally underachieves at Roland Garros.
Berdych at 80 to 1 is a good pick for value in my view as the Czech player has looked reasonably sharp to start 2012, and I think he's more of a 35-to-1 longshot.
Almagro has been inconsistent at Roland Garros in the past and his best results are from 2010 and 2008. In each of those seasons, he fell in the quarters to Nadal. Last season, Almagro looked dangerous heading into the French Open and then dropped a five-setter to Lukasz Kubot in what was a shocking upset.
With those inconsistent results, you can definitely see why Almagro has been priced as a longshot. However I still think he's underrated and my true favorites to win the French Open at this point are as follows:
- Rafael Nadal (60% chance of winning: implies odds of 2/3 or -150)
- Novak Djokovic (11.11% chance of winning: implies odds of 8/1 or +800)
- Andy Murray (7.69% chance of winning: implies odds of 12/1 or +1200)
- Roger Federer (6.67% chance of winning: implies odds of 14/1 or +1400)
- Nicolas Almagro (3.85% chance of winning: implies odds of 25/1 or +2500)
- Tomas Berdych (2.7% chance of winning: implies odds of 35/1 or +3500)
- David Ferrer (1.8% chance of winning: implies odds of 55/1 or +5500)
- Juan Martin Del Potro (1.64% chance of winning: implies odds of 60/1 or +6000)
- Remaining field combined: about 4-5% chance of winning with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils, and Robin Soderling eating up a huge chunk of that 4-5%.
The value picks right now are Nadal, Murray, Almagro, and Berdych in my opinion.