The French Open is underway (May 28-Jun 11) and with Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova both absent from the women’s draw, it’s really anyone’s who guess who might walk away from Roland Garros as champion.
Not in over 15 years has there been a French Open draw for the ladies quite like this one. That’s because for the first time since prior to 2003, neither Serena Williams or Maria Sharapova, who hold five combined titles at the year’s only clay major, will not be in the draw due to varying reasons. That means that for the first time in a long time, the field at Roland Garros is wide open.
Looking at the draw, specifically the top-10 women in it, only two players have won a major since 2010 and only three since 2009. As opposed to Sharapova and Williams, none of the women in the field have over two grand slam titles period in their entire career. Defending champion, Garbine Muguruza is seeded fourth in the draw and is coming off a lackluster clay court season. She has said that about 15 women are capable of winning the year’s second major and even that could be an understatement. That’s how open the draw is at this point.
According to the bookies’ odds, Simona Halep (4/1) is the favorite but she isn’t exactly a confidence pick for most. That is because traditionally, Halep does not excel on the clay. Although it is worth noting that she is coming off winning the Masters event in Madrid last week, one of the final tune-ups to the French Open. Halep did finish as a finalist at Roland Garros in 2014 and reached two more major semifinals in the 11 grand slam events since. However she hasn’t emerged out of the Round of 16 in each of the last two majors and hasn’t gotten out of the second round in four of the last eight. So, simply put, Halep is a mixed bag and a real question mark as far as her status as the favorite goes.
Lining up behind Halep is Elina Svitolina (7/1), who is the only one in the draw who is coming off of two wins in the clay court season. Svitolina was victorious in two of the last four including the most recent event, the Masters in Rome. Now the sixth ranked player in the world, Svitolina’s recent rise and performance on clay definitely has her as a worthy favorite to win her first grand slam championship.
Defending champion, Muguruza (12/1) has the third best odds but not since 2007 has there been a back-to-back winner at the French Open. Kristina Mladenovic (12/1), seeded 13th, reached two finals during the clay court season and (12/1) Svetlana Kuznetsova, seeded eighth, has a record of 49-13 on clay, not to mention the experience and ability necessary to succeed on this surface. She has reached the Round of 16 in three of the last four slams and could be considered as likely as any to win her first French Open.
Angelique Kerber (18/1), the top seeded player and world number one, is another name to watch, even if she is a bit ignored by the oddsmakers. But Kerber does have two majors, both of which came last season. The only thing standing in her way is the clay. Kerber has just a 13-9 record at the French Open, her worst of any major. Additionally, the French is the only major where Kerber hasn’t reached a semifinal or better. This is easily her worst surface and if Kerber is vulnerable at any major, it would be the French.
- As you can see, even the favorites don’t inspire total confidence due to one reason or the other. Hence the field being so open. But, if we have to make a pick, the best bet would be to go with the hot hand and that is Elina Svitolina, generally at 7/1 with the sportsbooks.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.