- Chilly fall weather and the prospect of a lot of rain early in the week are game-changers at this French Open
- Slow conditions and a heavy, unresponsive new ball will reward grinders over shot makers
- As often has been the case since tennis returned, expect surprises – we look at some good first-round upset bets
A French Open unlike no other in the cool Paris fall, with relatively little time to transition from the hard courts to the clay, is going to mean some wacky results.
The younger, less experienced players, no matter how talented, are going to struggle to adapt more than the wily veterans who have seen it all.
And with stalwarts like Kei Nishikori and Gaël Monfils far from their top level, there are some props worth taking a serious look at.
French Open First-Round Odds
| David Goffin (BEL)||-1.5 (+108)||-127||U 38.5 (-117)|
|Jannik Sinner (ITA)||+1.5 (-118)||+104||O 38.5 (-109)|
|Reilly Opelka (USA)||-2.5 (-110)||+133||O 39.5 (-118)|
|[Q] Jack Sock (USA)||-2.5 (-115)||-167||U 39.5 (-107)|
| Dan Evans (GBR)||+4.5 (-136)||+155||O 37.5 (-113)|
|Kei Nishikori (JPN)||-4.5 (-108)||-195||U 37.5 (-112)|
| Denis Shapovalov (CAN)||-2.5 (-139)||-715||O 33.5 (-110)|
|Gilles Simon (FRA)||+2.5 (-110)||+510||U 33.5 (-114)|
| Gaël Monfils (FRA)||-3.5 (-112)||-175||O 37.5 (-121)|
|Alexander Bublik (KAZ)||+3.5 (-113)||+138||U 21.5 (-105)|
Odds taken Sept. 26 at DraftKings
David Goffin vs. Jannik Sinner
Goffin is a reliable French Open performer.
Sinner’s challenges are two-fold: lack of five-set experience and lack of French Open clay experience (it’s the 19-year-old’s debut in Paris).
He played the first five-set match of his career a few weeks ago at the U.S. Open. After going up two sets to none, he lost the third and fourth in a heartbeat and despite rallying to take it to a fifth-set tiebreak, lost that, too.
At the French Open, there is no fifth-set tiebreak. They play it out until there’s a two-game advantage and that’s a daunting prospect for a rookie.
Going five sets (+240 at Bet365), Goffin to win from behind (+450 at Bet365) and any prop that has the total number of games over 40 are worth a look.
Reilly Opelka vs. Jack Sock
On the comeback trail from injury, Sock needed to use his injury-protected ranking just to get into the qualifying.
He made it, winning three matches including a comeback and a third-set tiebreak in the middle match.
Big congratulations are in order for our volunteer assistant coach, Jack Sock, who just won his third qualifying match for the French Open and will play in the main draw next week! 🔴⚫️😼#CatsAreWild https://t.co/pjKgp6LmQn pic.twitter.com/wJIkWN6AR6
— Davidson Men's Tennis (@Davidsontennis) September 25, 2020
At 23, Opelka has yet to win a main-draw match in Paris. The chilly conditions and rainy forecast will slow down his biggest weapon, his serve.
His opponent is match tough, and confident.
Sock to win in four sets (at +360 on DraftKings) is a good bet.
A first-set tiebreak (+450 for Opelka to win, +375 for Sock to win on Bet365) is also a good prop.
Dan Evans vs. Kei Nishikori
At 30, Evans has never won a match in Paris.
However, he’s only played it three times, and he’s playing the best tennis of his career right now. He does have a career win over Nishikori in a Grand Slam.
Nishikori has been a quarterfinalist in Paris three times, including last year, before his elbow troubles hit.
That being said, he’s played just three matches since August 2019. Last week in Rome, he lost to an 18-year-old Italian in straight sets.
Evans to win outright, or in four sets (+550 at Bet365, +600 at DraftKings) is worth considering.
Denis Shapovalov vs. Gilles Simon
The way 21-year-old Canadian Shapovalov played in Rome, reaching the semifinals (after a quarterfinal effort at the US Open), it’s no wonder he’s such a heavy favorite.
But are those odds out of whack on a slow track?
Shapovalov has only managed one win in Paris in his short career. A year ago, he was blown off the court in straight sets by big-serving German Jan-Lennard Struff.
He’s come a long way in 16 months. But Simon, who first played his home-country Slam in 2005 (when Shapovalov was six) is the type of player who can help Shapovalov beat himself.
Simon could steal a set (+275 at DraftKings).
Gaël Monfils vs. Alexander Bublik
When Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime went down in straight sets to the unpredictable Bublik this week in Hamburg, he said later he wasn’t expecting either the level or the unorthodox style of play.
That’s Bublik’s game. He can pull off big tennis one day, and be absolutely mediocre the next.
Monfils, an impressive French Open performer, is in a self-admitted funk on the court right now after the pandemic shut him down when he was on an absolute roll.
Since tennis returned a month ago, he has only played one match where he lost.
Hi all, I wanted to share some news with you since my return to the Tour in Rome and Hamburg. I haven’t been feeling great on the court and it is not easy to accept. This period is a little complicated but I will continue to fight, train and hope for better results soon,part1/2
— Gael Monfils (@Gael_Monfils) September 22, 2020
The Kazakh in four sets (+450 at Bet365) is a prop to consider.