With regards to tennis betting and the fact that Rafael Nadal is set to dominate the men’s draw at the French Open, thoughts of picking an outright winner turn to the women. There are plenty of players in with a shout at Roland Garros, especially as it is the least favoured Grand Slam of the Williams sisters, winners of the last three majors.
Venus and Serena have both had troubled preparation. Although this is not usually a problem for them ahead of big tournaments, the fact that only one of their combined haul of 17 slams, Serena in 2002, has come in Paris means this is an ideal opportunity to bet against them.
Serena, troubled by injury, has recently lost three consecutive matches for just the second time in her career, whilst Venus crashed out in the second round at the Madrid Masters. Madrid is the final high-profile clay warm-up, so the protagonists here should be closely followed at Roland Garros.
As well as current form, the records on clay and Grand Slam performance should be examined and it is safe to say no player jumps out demanding selection. Dinara Safina is the latest player to rise to world number one without winning a slam and this is her best opportunity to date. She was runner-up to Ana Ivanovic last year at Paris and also reached this year’s Australian Open final, but the suspicion remains that she has the game but not the attitude to win major finals.
Ivanovic is struggling with injury and lacks the consistency to retain the title, whilst compatriot Jelena Jankovic is rebuilding her game after a poor start to the season. This might be one tournament too soon for the former number one to challenge in.
Elena Dementieva is yet to find a way of dealing with her nerves on the big occasion, although she should be backed to reach the last four. The latter stages could well be dominated by Russians and it would be no surprise to see at least four players from that country in the quarter finals, as there were at the Australian Open.
Vera Zvonareva impressed in Melbourne and won at Indian Wells and I expect her to go well in Paris, although she is suffering from an ankle problem and might miss out. Svetlana Kuznetsova is a consistent performer at slams and having reached the final and semi finals in Paris recently, is a good bet to go all the way.