Tennis

2024 French Open Preview: Men’s and Women’s Picks

The opening round of the French Open starts this weekend. Check out our picks for both men's and women's winners.

May 22, 2024

The first round of the second Grand Slam of 2024 begins Sunday, as the world’s top tennis players from both the ATP and WTA Tours will gather in Paris for the French Open. The top title hopefuls and sleepers at Roland Garros are laid out below, along with their odds from Tipico Sportsbook as of this writing.

Men’s Singles

Carlos Alcaraz (+185) has missed the entire clay court season except for the Madrid Open due to a forearm injury, but the talented Spaniard’s A game is better than anyone else’s on clay. The 21-year-old Alcaraz is still searching for his first French Open title, but he already has championship pedigree, having won the US Open in 2022 and Wimbledon in 2023.

Alcaraz is ranked No. 3 and will have the opportunity to shake off the rust against a couple of unseeded opponents early on. Based on his form in Madrid, the forearm injury is affecting Alcaraz most on his serve, but if there’s any surface on which cranking it up over 130 mph is a luxury rather than a necessity, it’s the comparatively slower clay.

Novak Djokovic (+260) has the second-lowest odds more on reputation than recent results, as his play has dropped off dramatically to begin 2024. Djokovic has gone just 5-3 since his semifinal run at the Australian Open, with uncharacteristic losses to the relatively unheralded Luca Nardi and Alejandro Tabilo, as well as his first loss to Casper Ruud in six head-to-head meetings.

The Serb’s record 24 Grand Slam titles include last year’s French Open, but Djokovic — who turns 37 on Wednesday — is starting to show his age. He’s still an extremely tough out in best-of-five set play, but the world No. 1 will need to raise his level to contend for the title here.

Jannik Sinner (+370) has a sparkling 28-2 record in 2024 and won his first career Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, but his power baseline game works just a bit better on hard courts than clay, and more importantly, he’s dealing with a hip injury heading into Roland Garros.

Sinner pulled out prior to his quarterfinal match in Madrid and subsequently missed the Masters 1000 event in Rome. The world No. 2 can certainly make a deep run if healthy, but there’s a reason Sinner has 12 career hard-court titles and only one on clay.

Alexander Zverev (+570) is the best value bet in the men’s field. While other top contenders are banged up or struggling, the fifth-ranked German is riding high coming off a Masters 1000 title in Rome. Zverev was giving eventual champion Rafael Nadal all he could handle in the semifinal of the 2022 French Open when the German suffered a devastating ankle injury. Two years later, Zverev is finally back to pre-injury form, and he’s looking to fill the gaping hole in his resume with a Grand Slam title.

Zverev has six Masters 1000 titles, an Olympic gold medal and two ATP Finals titles, plus he was two points away from winning the 2020 US Open and has a winning record against Alcaraz at 5-4.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (+670) reached the final of the 2021 French Open, and he flashed his clay court bonafides by winning the Monte Carlo Masters 1000 for the third time in April. With a 2-4 career record in Grand Slam semifinals and 0-2 mark in finals, the eighth-ranked Tsitsipas has come close numerous times before but hasn’t quite had enough to break through for a Grand Slam title against the world’s best.

Casper Ruud (+1000) is a nice value at +1000. The seventh-ranked Norwegian is most comfortable on clay, having reached the final of each of the last two French Opens. He got a confidence boost with his first career win over Djokovic in Monte Carlo, and this could be Ruud’s best chance to win a Grand Slam given the uncertainty among the top contenders.

Rafael Nadal (+1100) is further along in his decline than Djokovic, as injuries have sapped much of the physicality from the 37-year-old Spaniard’s game. As unlikely as a deep run here seems from Nadal, who is just 7-4 in 2024, you can never truly write off the 14-time French Open champion at this event, where Nadal boasts a lifetime 112-3 record. Considering this is likely the legend’s last Roland Garros appearance, he’ll certainly give it all he’s got in trademark Nadal fashion.

Tommy Paul (+10000) is the likeliest to do damage among the American contingent. Americans notoriously struggle on clay, but Paul bucked that trend a bit with a semifinal showing in Rome, where he notched top-10 wins over Daniil Medvedev and Hubert Hurkacz. Paul’s best results have come on hard courts, including a semifinal showing at the 2023 Australian Open, but he has the well-rounded skill set to thrive on clay, with a better backhand and footwork than virtually all the other top American men.

Men’s Pick

Alexander Zverev – If Alcaraz were fully healthy, he would be the obvious pick, but that uncertainty saps his value, especially since he still has the best odds of winning. With Alcaraz and Sinner banged up and Djokovic seemingly joining Nadal in the over-the-hill club, this could be the moment the 27-year-old Zverev finally breaks through for his first Grand Slam title.

He’s a natural mover on the clay and covers the court beautifully for his 6-6 frame but still earns plenty of free points with his serve, which could prove crucial in later rounds that often come down to a handful of key points.

Women’s Singles

Iga Swiatek (-135) is favored against the field, as she should be. The world No. 1 plays by far her best tennis on clay, and she’s going for a fourth French Open title in the last five years. Swiatek has a 38-4 record in 2024 — 14-1 on clay.

Aryna Sabalenka (+490) has regained form after a brief wobble earlier this year while she worked through some issues in her personal life. The big-hitting Belarusian is ranked No. 2 and has been a consistent presence in the latter stages of Grand Slams, reaching the semifinals or better in each of the last six majors.

She was a finalist in both of this year’s clay court WTA 1000 events in Madrid and Rome but lost to Swiatek both times. Madrid came down to a third-set tiebreak while Rome was one-way traffic, with Sabalenka winning only five games.

Coco Gauff (+770) has a strong argument for being the second-best clay player on the WTA Tour. Unfortunately for the 20-year-old American, she has a dreadful head-to-head against the best. Gauff is just 1-10 in her career against Swiatek, with all of the losses coming in straight sets. Those defeats include the championship match of the 2022 French Open, as well as the semifinal in Rome just last week.

Gauff has made the semifinals or better in each of the last three French Opens, and the 2023 US Open champion is likely to make another deep Roland Garros run as the No. 3 seed.

Elena Rybakina (+800) has a game that’s better-suited for faster surfaces, but she’s no slouch on clay. She has three titles this year, including one on clay in Stuttgart, where Rybakina handed Swiatek her lone clay defeat so far in 2024. She also has Swiatek’s number in general, with a 4-2 edge in their head-to-head meetings.

Rybakina has a firm grasp on the No. 4 ranking heading into Roland Garros, but getting late enough in the tournament to play the likes of Swiatek will be a challenge given her pedestrian career 9-4 record at the French Open.

Danielle Collins (+2000) announced earlier this year that this will be her last on the WTA Tour, then began playing the best tennis of her life shortly after that by reeling off a 15-match winning streak that included her first career WTA 1000 title in Miami and a 500-level clay title in Charleston.

Sabalenka snapped that winning streak in Madrid and beat Collins again in the semifinals of Rome, but Collins has been the third-best player on the WTA Tour since the start of March, with losses to only Swiatek and Sabalenka over that span. The 30-year-old American is just 8-6 in her career at the French Open, but Collins managed to reach the quarterfinals in 2020, and she offers nice value at +2000.

Maria Sakkari (+4000) has stepped up her game since partnering with coach David Witt, who previously helped Jessica Pegula climb to No. 3 in the world. After the coaching change, Sakkari made the final in Indian Wells and the quarterfinals in Miami.

Sakkari is on pace to finish in the top 10 for the fourth consecutive year and boasts a strong all-court game, having reached the semifinals of the 2021 French Open. She lost in the third round or earlier in each of her last eight Grand Slam tournaments, but this could be a nice buy-low opportunity on Sakkari in her first major with Witt.

Women’s Pick

Iga Swiatek – Swiatek’s 52-4 clay-court record since the start of 2022 speaks for itself. The queen of clay will likely reign supreme once again at Roland Garros. If Swiatek stumbles, Gauff could be the one to capitalize, but their head-to-head suggests Gauff would need somebody else to slay Swiatek.

Sasha Yodashkin
Sasha Yodashkin has been contributing NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and Tennis content to RotoWire since 2015, with an emphasis on DFS. He is a huge New York sports fan who has been playing fantasy sports since middle school.
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