- The French Open begins on Sunday and there are lots of ways to wager on the first round
- Tennis betting is so much more than who is going to win an individual match or the tournament overall
- Read below to find out our favorite first round women’s plays
Six different women have won the French Open over the past six years. Four of the last six finals have gone to a third set. There have been just two tiebreaks during those six finals. Does that brief history lesson mean anything to you? It would if you had bet on those details.
It is easy to view matches as simply as a winner and loser, but why? Everybody likes Super Bowl props. Football wagering comes with a point spread. If you are only betting tennis in a traditional way you are missing out on opportunities.
With play at Roland Garros beginning on Sunday, let’s look at some first round matches and see what bets provide value.
French Open First Round Odds
|Simona Halep||-6.5 games (-150)||-2500||Over 17.5 games (-115)|
|Sara Sorribes Tormo||+6.5 games (+118)||+1150||Under 17.5 games (-112)|
|Katarina Zavatska||+5.5 (+105)||+440||Over 18.5 (-122)|
|Kiki Bertens||-5.5 (-136)||-625||Under 18.5 (-107)|
|Liudmila Samsonova||+4.5 (+107)||+280||Over 19.5 (-124)|
|Sofia Kenin||-4.5 (-139)||-385||Under 19.5 (-105)|
|Anett Kontaveit||-4.5 (-120)||-360||Over 20.5 (-105)|
|Caroline Garcia||+4.5 (-107)||+270||Under 20.5 (-122)|
|Aryna Sabalenka||-4.5 (+102)||-265||Over 20.5 (-108)|
|Jessica Pegula||+4.5 (-129)||+205||Under 20.5 (-117)|
Odds from DraftKings taken Sept. 25
Halep vs Tormo
With defending champ Ash Barty and U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka not making the trip to Paris, Simona Halep is the favorite. A three-time French Open finalist, she won the event in 2018.
Soon-to-be 24-year-old Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo sports a 3-12 record in majors. She has never faced Halep, but won the W80 Cagnes-Sur-Mer as the top seed, a second tier event on clay last week.
This is the perfect example of why alternative lines aid bettors. Tormo has little shot of winning, and laying -2500 is crazy particularly in a COVID-19 environment.
Halep needed three sets in each of her first two matches at the French Open last year. She got things together before making the quarters. She went to the third set in her opening match two years ago too, prior to winning the title.
Last year, Tormo gutted out a three-setter in the first round at Roland Garros before falling to Sloane Stephens 6-1, 7-6. In the U.S. Open this year she beat wildcard Claire Liu 6-2, 6-4, before being taken out by Elise Mertens 6-3, 7-5.
Though the odds Tormo wins are extreme, the evidence suggests she can hang around.
Our Best Bet: You get +480 for an exact result of Halep two sets, and Tormo one. That represents significant value.
Zavatska vs Bertens
Twenty-year-old Katarina Zavatska is playing in just her second major main draw. She reached the third round of qualifying last year in Paris. At the U.S. Open she lost to Elena Rybakina 6-3, 6-0.
Kiki Bertens reached the semifinals in Paris in 2016.
The veteran skipped the U.S. Open to concentrate on clay, which is where she does her best work. She took care of Pauline Parmentier 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the French Open last year before having to retire in the second round.
Bertens is probably not a threat to win the tournament, and it isn’t a great sign she just withdrew from a tune-up event in Strasbourg during the round of 16 with an Achilles injury. That said, if she is anywhere close to healthy this should not be a competitive match.
Our Best Bet: Before the injury laying 7.5 games and getting +230 with Bertens seemed pretty appealing, but -5.5 at -136 is the revised play.
Samsonova vs Kenin
Liudmila Samsonova got through qualifiers to make her French Open debut last year. The 21-year-old Russian fell in the opening round to Donna Vekić 6-2, 6-4. Jeļena Ostapenko took her out in straight sets in the first round of this year’s Australian Open. Last month in New York she dropped her first match to Tsvetana Pironkova 6-2, 6-3.
Sofia Kenin is a tough read right now. She advanced to the fourth round at the U.S. Open and beat Serena Williams in Paris last year.
Following a decent appearance in New York last month, she went to Rome and got blanked by Victoria Azarenka, 6-0, 6-0.
This is a top-10 player against someone ranked above 100 in the world. They have never played before, and therefore there is uncertainty. That said, we saw in New York how well Azarenka is going right now. Getting blanked is brutal, but Kenin should enjoy the lower level of competition. Unless you question Kenin’s mental strength, this should not be an overly competitive tilt.
Our Best Bet: Something like 6-2, 6-3 feels about right. The under 17.5 games is +200, and that is an appealing price.
Kontaveit vs Garcia
It seems like Anett Kontaveit, 24, is starting to get pretty good. She made her first major quarterfinal at this year’s Australian Open, and then reached the fourth round in New York City. Her French Open history is inconsistent. She won a match in 2017, got to the fourth round a year later, but was dismissed in the first round last year. She has a nice draw if she can get by Caroline Garcia.
The pure numbers will tell you Garcia reached the third round at the U.S. Open. What they forget to mention is she knocked off the tournament’s top seed, Karolína Plíšková in the second round.
Playing in her home tournament last year, she won a single match at the French Open. However, two years ago she reached the fourth round, and in 2017 she was a semifinalist.
This is the fourth all time meeting between the players. On a hard court in 2016 Garcia won 7-6(2), 2-6, 6-4. Kontaveit took a clay court battle last year 6-4, 6-3. In Rome on clay a couple weeks ago Kontaveit beat Garcia 6-3, 7-6(1). In other words, Kontaveit is a reasonable favorite but nothing will come easy.
Our Best Bet: There is little reason to think this won’t be a competitive match. Garcia to win at +270 isn’t bad, nor is over 2.5 sets at +175. That said, in what we think ought to be tight from the start, +325 that there will be a tiebreak is the selection.
Sabalenka vs Pegula
Nobody would suggest that Aryna Sabalenka has the most refined game. That said, pure power can take you a long way or at the very least scare your opponents. She beat Océane Dodin 7-6, 6-4 in the first round at the U.S. Open before Victoria Azarenka handled her easily. She has one win in three career matches at Roland Garros.
American Jessica Pegula is 3-7 all time at major championships, with two of the three victories coming at this year’s U.S. Open. Both of her wins in New York last month were of the three set variety.
Pegula lost to Barty, who won the title, 6-3, 6-3 in the first round of last year’s French Open.
These players couldn’t be more different. Sabalenka hits the daylight out of the ball but is sort of unrefined. Pegula is patient and disciplined and opportunistic. They have never played before, and it is a fun contrast in styles and substance.
Our Best Bet: Nothing beats a live dog. Sabalenka is not trustworthy and her results do not justify her hype. Pegula will have a good game plan and follow it. At +205 she can win outright.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.