The clay season comes to an end here at Roland Garros as we prepare for the second grand slam of the 2023 calendar year. We’ll break down the draw quarter by quarter and identify some valuable bets.
First, some overall thoughts about the draw:
It goes without saying that there is a serious presence missing with Rafael Nadal unable to get healthy in time to defend his crown at the French Open. A lot of the media circus for this year’s slam will be around the fact that he’s missing and not the opportunities it presents for the other players. We won’t spend any more time discussing Nadal’s prepotent record (112-3) and his 14 slam victories here.
In the weeks leading up to the French, the media has speculated about a possible collision course between the old guard and the new with Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz expected as the one and two seeds. However, in somewhat of a surprising turn of events, Daniil Medvedev has catapulted himself to the #2 seed after picking up his first Masters 1000 event title on clay, winning Rome two weeks ago.
Djokovic and Alcaraz find themselves on the same side of the bracket, setting up what could be the match of the clay season in the semi-final. However, concerns about Djokovic’s health remain as a lingering elbow injury has continued to rear its ugly head.
Can Alcaraz live up to the pressure as the #1 seed? Can Djokovic overcome his injury and surpass Rafa for the most titles of all time? Is Daniil Medvedev’s recent clay success real?
With both favorites nestled in the same half of the draw, we’ll likely find all of our value in the bottom half. These are all questions we’ll look to answer in the 2023 edition of the French Open Betting Guide.
Carlos Alcaraz leads this section of the draw as a +165 short shot to win the entire tournament. He’s currently -250 to win the quarter. I have my questions about Alcaraz’s ability to maintain his level over a best of five.
He’s shown some durability issues in the past but should be coming into Paris healthy this year. Alcaraz has been given a cakewalk draw as he’s not likely to face any competition until a R16 matchup against Lorenzo Musetti or Cameron Norrie. I don’t think either of them have the ability to knock Alcaraz off unless he severely drops his level across multiple sets.
Sitting at the bottom of this quarter is Stefanos Tsitsipas. Tsitsipas also has a cake walk draw to reach a QF class as his toughest competition could be Felix Auger-Aliassime or Sebastian Korda. FAA simply does not have the ability or consistency to make a deep run in a Grand Slam on clay and Korda has only played two matches this year after injuring his wrist at the Australian Open.
Tsitsipas lacks the mental fortitude to stand up to most top talent in a Grand Slam setting, despite showing the ability at times. He faces constant battles mentally, arguing with other players (see Daniil Medvedev) and a never-ending fight with his parents in his coach's box.
Tsitsipas has made some concerning mistakes with his backhand as it’s looked quite erratic in 2023. His clay numbers are good, and he’s been successful at Roland Garros (21-6 record). However, at just +350 to win the quarter I don’t think there’s any value at all here.
Both Alcaraz and Tsitsipas should have the level to make it into the QF, but I’d imagine the price on Tsitsipas to win that match would be around 2/1 or +250. I’d only be interested in a bet of Tsitsipas to reach the QF if it paid out higher than +100.
Moving into Q2, we are headlined here by Novak Djokovic sitting at +250 to win the event and -225 to win the quarter. Similar to Alcaraz, we don’t find much opposition to Djokovic here, assuming that he’s healthy. I think some of his prices are shaded a bit high, however, this is fair given the question marks about his health.
He’s been forced to a tiebreak by players like Luca Van Assche and Ivan Gakhov. He lost to Dusan Lajovic and Lorenzo Musetti as well as Rome finalist Holger Rune. We know that the Djoker has a second gear that he will bring out in a Grand Slam and his ability will outlast his opponents over a best of five match. But the question remains, is he healthy enough to do that?
The man with the most to gain from these question marks is Andrey Rublev. Rublev has shown somewhat surprising results on the clay highlighted by a Masters 1000 win at Monte Carlo in April. Monte Carlos' slow conditions will be similar to this year's French Open and Rublev was a quarter finalist here in 2022, losing to Marin Cilic in a fifth set tiebreak.
Rublev’s draw is not without land mines as he could run into the young American Ben Shelton as well as his countryman, Karen Khachanov who recently beat him in the altitude at Madrid. I don’t think Khachanov’s serve will play nearly as well in Paris as it did in Madrid and would make him a decent underdog to Rublev.
DraftKings has up +650 for Rublev to win the quarter, which I think is a decent bet. I don’t think he has the ability to beat an in-form Novak Djokovic in these conditions, but Novak has to prove it to us first.
If Djokovic isn’t himself or is forced out of the tournament due to injury, Rublev’s price will come crashing down. We’ll keep the stake small for now but keep an eye out for this second quarter. Bet: Andrey Rublev to win Quarter 2 (+650) 0.25u.
Jumping down to the bottom half of the draw. I think we’ll start to find some more interesting bets to take. Holger Rune highlights this quarter at 9/1 to win it all and +150 to win the quarter. At the bottom of the quarter lies 2022 finalist Casper Ruud.
The tournament directors seem to continue to work their magic on the draw as we get a potential matchup between Ruud and Rune, which is quietly turning into quite the rivalry on court. Many have criticized Rune for his on court antics and his strong personality, not dissimilar to Nick Kygrios or Daniil Medvedev a few years ago.
Ruud has a bit of an advantage in the draw as the opposite seed in his eighth is Tommy Paul. This could be a spot to see some madness in the draw as I have a big question mark around Casper Ruud at the moment. Ruud has certainly had some surprising results during this clay season, going out to Jan Lennard Struff in Monte Carlo, Matteo Arnaldi in Madrid, and eventually Holger Rune in Rome.
I was also surprised to see Ruud in attendance at Geneva this year. Ruud has won this tournament twice in a row. Despite this, I thought Ruud would look to take the rest before Paris this year, given the potential he has to make a deep run.
I think this says a lot about where his game is at the moment, needing the Geneva tune up event to prepare for Paris. He lost to eventual champion Nicholas Jarry quite handily at altitude. I think Rune is the man to come out of the quarter, but I don’t see much value in a bet on him.
Rune has some difficult matches to get out of his section of the quarter, which will likely present some live betting opportunities. There’s also been question marks about Rune’s fitness level, especially in a Grand Slam. Rune is just 20 years old and is still developing physically. Rune’s clay numbers certainly warrant his place among the short shots to win the event, but I’m surprised to find him even shorter than Daniil Medvedev.
Rune was -175 against Casper in Rome and a PK against Medvedev. I think we can afford to wait this one out and see how much stress players like Gael Monfils, Miomir Kecmanovic, and Francisco Cerundolo put on Rune before taking him at such a short price. His latter stage matches will be bettable on their own.
A bet I might look for is Francisco Cerundolo to reach the QF. Cerundolo has played quite well during the 2023 clay swing, picking up multiple wins against top players such as Casper Ruud, Jannik Sinner, and Cam Norrie. Cerundolo is a grinder with exceptional fitness and high rally tolerance.
He should cruise to a potential matchup against Taylor Fritz where I believe the books will make him an underdog. I’d be interested in a moneyline rollover parlay on Cerundolo to get up the Round 4 against Rune.
This might be the trickiest quarter of them all and ironically will be where I place my first outright winner of the tournament. This quarter is headlined by Daniil Medvedev who is a deserving +185 to win the quarter and and just 10/1 to win it all. Just a few weeks ago before the Rome victory, Medvedev was priced up at over 20/1. I have a hard time believing that Medvedev is really deserving of this price.
Medvedev has cited on multiple occasions how much he hates the clay and also how he hated the slow hardcourt conditions at Indian Wells in 2023. In complete opposite fashion, Medvedev knocked off Zverev, Tsitsipas, and Rune en route to a Masters 1000 victory in Rome in conditions that replicate those of the French Open.
Medvedev likely won’t face much competition until facing Borna Coric or Alex de Minaur in the fourth round, which he should have enough power to hit through despite the slow conditions in Paris. Medvedev turning into an all-surface player is great for the game and becomes a terrifying wild card when handicapping this tournament.
That being said, I’m avoiding outright prices on a player that has a poor history on clay and will still be an underdog in the latter stages of this tournament. Where I do find value however, is on Jannik Sinner. Sinner has similar question marks to Holger Rune. At times, the 21 year old struggles with his physicality and hasn’t been able to hold up physically in a Grand Slam.
Sinner has some of the best ability on tour but lacks the consistency to make deep runs in the more difficult tournaments. Sinner’s size and movement combined with the topspin he hits the ball with make him an incredibly difficult matchup for just about anybody. However, Sinner seems to be showing improvement, making deep runs at multiple Masters 1000 events including beating Carlos Alcaraz in Miami.
Sinner won’t face much competition until the fourth round in a matchup versus Zverev or Frances Tiafoe, who both have question marks around their form. I’m not one to make much of head to head matchups, however, Sinner does have a concerning 0-6 record against the Russian. That being said, 5 out of the 6 matches were played on Indoor hard courts (Medvedev’s preferred surface.)
The two have never played on clay and Sinner’s runs in 2023 is a testament to what appears to be improved mental and physical ability. Jannik Sinner is my bet to win the French open at 13/1 and +225 to win the quarter. If Medvedev doesn’t win Rome, Sinner would be the commanding favorite in this draw.
We’ll be rooting for a little madness in the bottom half of the draw to continue to improve Sinner’s chances of reaching a difficult final against Alcaraz or Djokovic. This draw and a 13/1 price is enough for me to back Jannik Sinner to make the 2023 French Open his breakthrough slam. Bet: Jannik Sinner to win at 13/1 (1u) and Jannik Sinner to win Q4 at +250 (1u).