Roger Federer played in two tournaments in preparation for the 2012 French Open at Roland Garros in Paris, France. After missing the Monte Carlo Masters, Federer contested both the Madrid Masters draw and the Rome Masters draw.
In Madrid he turned in the optimal result—defeating Tomas Berdych to claim the Masters title—which helped him gain the World No. 2 ranking. In Rome, Federer made the semifinals, where he fell to Novak Djokovic in straight sets.
Federer is widely considered the third favorite to win the 2012 French Open, behind Rafael Nadal and Djokovic (i.e. bet365). Tennis fans thinking about backing the 2009 Roland Garros champion need to reflect on his results from the recent clay court season, his results from past French Open draws and his results from other Grand Slam tournaments.
The victory in Madrid does not strongly imply that Federer will experience late-round success at Roland Garros. The blue clay featured in that event made the tournament different, and both Nadal and Djokovic complained about the clay and had little drive against their opponents.
The Rome Masters, on the other hand, is an insightful event for gauging Federer's likelihood to win the 2012 French Open. He demonstrated in that tournament that the weaker players on tour are not going to better him, and Federer also showed that he will not be brushed aside easily by a player of Djokovic's caliber. However, when the match against the world No. 1 got down to crunch time, Federer's best was not as good as Djokovic's best, and that is something worth noting.
The scouting report on Federer is clear when it comes to the French Open and Grand Slams. Even when he was in his tennis prime he only won one title at Roland Garros. More recently he has shown that he has trouble in the late rounds of tournaments when facing younger competition.
He's definitely a player who will likely show that he is still a major factor in the Grand Slam draws. However, I think he needs a little bit of luck to win the 2012 French Open.
If either Djokovic or Nadal suffers a shocking upset, Federer's chances of winning will improve and it should be noted that Djokovic has his share of bad losses at the Roland Garros tennis grounds. But other than that, I think Federer is over-rated at 8/1, which is his going rate with numerous sports books (Stan James 8/1).
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