The 2016 French Open is now underway in Paris. So far, the early rounds of the tournament have mostly run as expected for the men’s singles. Things have been shaken up on the women’s side with Angelique Kerber and Victoria Azarenka both already out. This leaves Serena Williams as the woman to beat this year.
Although the French Open is already in progress, online bookmakers are still taking outright bets on the men’s and women’s winners as well as booking individual matchup wagers every day of the tournament. Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal are all priced as the dominant favourites so far this year. Serena Williams remains the dominant favourite to win it all at 11/8 with Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza priced at 5/1 and 7/1.
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Whenever we speak of the biggest clay court tournament in tennis, we cannot fail to mention the King of Clay himself. Rafael Nadal has thoroughly dominated the French Open up until recently with nine victories here in the past eleven years. His form took a hit last year, but he has been looking more like his former self in recent months. Stan Wawrinka took the title here last year and now we’ll get to see a very motivate Nadal do his best to return order to the clay court universe.
State of the Men
Andy Murray has made it to the third round, but it was a surprisingly tough battle for him to get this far. It took him five sets to beat back Radek Stepanek and another five sets to get past World no. 164 Mathias Bourgue of France. The Frenchman put up an impressive performance considering this was his first ever ATP Tour match, but Murray is clearly off his game.
As Russell Fuller of the BBC put it, Andy Murray’s “fighting spirit burns as brightly as ever, but the seven and a quarter hours he has already spent on court could well take its toll. Murray says he is hitting the ball well in practice, but not yet for long enough periods on the match court to justify his pre-tournament billing.”
Murray next faces Ivo Karlovic of Croatia in the third round on Friday.
Otherwise, the men’s side has so far played out as the tennis bookmakers have expected. Rafael Nadal continued his bid for a 10th French Open title by defeating Sam Groth 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 in straight shots. Nadal’s next opponent is world no. 99 Facundo Bagnis of Argentina.
Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfriend Tsonga both made it through the first round with straight-set victories over Yen-Hsun Lu and Jan-Lennard Struff, respectively. Djokovic next faces Steve Darcis and Tsonga next faces Marcos Baghdatis.
Defending champion Stan Wawrinka had a close call in the first round in a five-set match against Lukas Rosol. It was a three hour, eleven minute grinder that ultimately turned out in favour of Wawrinka 4-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the opening round. Wawrinka came back strong in his next match against Taro Daniel, which he won in straight sets. Up next for Wawrinka is a match against world no. 32 Jeremy Chardy.
Kei Nishikori has also advanced to the third round with straight set victories over Simone Bolelli and Andrey Kuznetsov. Nishikoria looks extremely strong this year and should be watched closely by anyone planning to bet on the 2016 French Open online. He is way overlooked by the media in comparison to some of the other tennis greats competing at Roland-Garros. His next opponent is Fernando Verdasco of Spain.
State of the Women
The biggest upset of the tournament so far happened on the women’s side. In the first round, no. 3 seed Angelique Kerber was dispatched by Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands in three sets. Five-seed Victoria Azarenka also went out in the first round after being forced to retire due to a knee injury in the third set to Karin Knapp.
The eliminations of Kerber and Azarenka bode very well for this year’s favourite Serena Williams. Kerber and Azarenka posed the most significant threats to Williams’ 2016 French Open hopes, and now both are out. Meanwhile, Williams routed Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2, 6-0 on Tuesday. Her next opponent is world no. 81 Teliana Pereira.
No. 2 seed Agnieszka Radwanska has made it to the third round relatively unscathed, and it looks like her decision to skip Rome and focus on the clay courts at Rolland-Garros have paid off. She knocked both Bojana Jovanovski and Caroline Garcia quickly. She next faces Barbora Strycova in the third round.
No. 6 seed Simona Halep had to dig out of an early deficit on Wednesday to Zarina Diyas. It took nearly 90 minutes, but Halep managed to progress over Diyas 7-6(5), 6-2 to advance to the third round. Halep will be facing Naomi Osaka of Japan in the third round.