- The French Open Men’s Singles Semifinals at Roland Garros will be played on Friday, October 9
- Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are heavy favorites to advance to the final
- Should you bet on one of the favorites, or maybe Diego Schwartzman or Stefanos Tsitsipas?
The more things change the more they remain the same. Men’s tennis has been top-heavy for two decades. Not surprisingly that corresponds with a golden era of the sport that includes all-time greats Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic. Federer is not playing in this year’s French Open. The other two are in the semis and are enormous favorites to face each other in the championship match.
Nadal and Djokovic were likely to be in this spot from the start. It was clear fairly early on that Stefanos Tsitsipas had a draw that he might be able to exploit. Diego Schwartzman has been a terrific story. So what’s the best value bet remaining?
Let’s look carefully at the odds to win the French Open and examine what they mean.
2020 French Open Odds
Odds taken October 7th from Bet365
French Open odds have remained pretty similar for the two favorites throughout the tournament, while as expected Tsitsipas has seen some change, and Schwartzman’s odds have shrunk. What exactly do the current odds mean?
If you bet on Nadal at +100 it implies a 50% chance of winning the tournament. In order to make that a smart wager Nadal must have a slightly better than 50/50 shot at becoming a 13-time French Open champ.
Djokovic’s +120 price equates to a 45.45% chance of winning. If you think he legitimately would win the 2020 French Open with these four quarterfinalists in their current state just under half the time, he makes for a good value.
Tsitsipas is priced at 11.76%, and Schwartzman 5.26%. If with this final four, and in this environment you believe Tsitsipas would win the tournament in one out of ten theoretical brackets, he is a bad wager. If you think he wins at a 15% rate, what are you waiting for?
Why do the percentages not add up to 100? That is the sportsbooks cut. In this case, the percentages total 112.47. That is very much in line with most bets. For a handicapper, if you can identify when an individual’s odds surpass the odds being offered you have value.
Path to the Semis
Nadal has not lost a set thus far though he is the only semifinalist not to face a seeded player. Djokovic was perfect before dropping the opening set on Wednesday against Pablo Carreno Busta. He rallied to win the next three. Tsitsipas lost his first two sets of the tournament to Jaume Munar, but got off the deck, won the match, and has been flawless since. Schwartzman was perfect through four matches but needed over five hours and five sets to get by Dominic Thiem in the quarters.
Beating Thiem is not only the best win of Schwartzman’s career, but it is also the most impressive win of the French Open this year. Djokovic has beaten two seeded players in the draw, Carreno Busta and Karen Khachanov. Tsitsipas has also beaten two seeded foes, Grigor Dimitrov and Andrey Rublev.
Nadal is 9-1 against Schwartzman. However, when they met last month on clay in Rome Schwartzman pulled the upset and did so in straight sets.
Djokovic is 3-2 against Tsitsipas. Their lone meeting on clay went to Djokovic in straight sets.
Djokovic leads the all-time series with Nadal 29–26 and is 15-11 in finals. Nadal has beaten Djokovic in six of seven meetings at Roland Garros.
Tsitsipas and Schwartzman have split two meetings. Tsitsipas won the lone battle on clay.
Nadal is 5-1 against Tsitsipas and 2-1 on clay courts.
Djokovic is 5-0 against Schwartzman including 3-0 on clay.
The Bet: Rafael Nadal
The idea that Tsitsipas and Schwartzman may pull an upset is totally reasonable. To beat two all-time greats is highly unlikely. Because Schwartzman has had recent success against Nadal, and since Djokovic didn’t look 100% in the quarters, trying to beat one of them and hedging in the Final isn’t a bad strategy. That said, we’re talking about Nadal in Paris. Why outsmart ourselves?