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Sunday, 26 May 2013

French Open Outright Picks 2013

I don't know what it is- is the cool looking clay courts, is it the longer rallies, but I love the French Open and am very much looking forward to visiting the tournament for the first time next week.

I booked tickets to go on the first Friday of the tournament, Third Round day, and even the disappointment of both Juan Martin Del Potro and Andy Murray missing out was ended when a draw of huge potential was made.

Personally, I don't see a lot of value left in the Women's draw as Serena Williams looks the pick after being given a good chance to go all the way to her third clay court title in succession. However, while Serena is certainly the pick in my mind, her poor record at the French Open is tough to ignore even if I can't see who will beat her before the Final.

Still, I didn't see Virginie Razzano beating Serena in the First Round last season so the World Number 1's odds on quotes to win here look poor value even if I do think she is the most likely winner.

Men's Draw
First Quarter
At the start of the tournament, I only considered two players as genuine contenders to win the title here at Roland Garros and the Gods have not been kind enough to split those players. Novak Djokovic is the Number 1 seed here and is the player I think is capable of breaking the Rafael Nadal strangle-hold on the French Open.

It isn't the worst draw in the world for Djokovic although he has been given the potentially awkward Third Round match against Grigor Dimitrov- however, while the Bulgarian has certainly improved his game, I am not sure he is ready to knock off one of the top players in a best of five set match.

Players like Tommy Haas and John Isner could be tough to play if they are on their game, but I would fancy Djokovic to beat either of those and I am pretty confident the World Number 1 will be in the Semi Final from this section.

Semi Final Prediction: Novak Djokovic after a tough Third Round win over Grigor Dimitrov

Second Quarter
While Novak Djokovic was one of my two contenders to win this title, the other is of course Rafael Nadal, a man coming into his first Grand Slam tournament since Wimbledon last June. Nadal has won the big two clay court events leading into Roland Garros and his record at the French Open speaks for itself.

I look at his section of the draw and I really don't see who is going to beat Nadal on a clay court in a best of five set match. In fact, I would be a little surprised if Nadal even dropped a set ahead of the Semi Final and I do believe the Spaniard comes through this section with little to no trouble at all.

Prediction: No need to waste time- this is Rafael Nadal's Quarter of the draw.

Third Quarter
Andy Murray's absence from the Tour means David Ferrer is the highest seed in this quarter of the draw, although the likes of Tomas Berdych will certainly have something to say about that.

This is probably the most dangerous section for some of the top seeds as the likes of Nicolas Almagro, Milos Raonic and the in-form Ernests Gulbis are all in the quarter and I do think Tomas Berdych will do very well to reach the Quarter Final.

Out of Ferrer and Berdych, I certainly think Ferrer has the 'easier' path and I think there is the potential for Gulbis to reach the Quarter Final, especially if he can knock off Berdych in a potential Second Round meeting.

The top half of this quarter has a lot of uncertainty and I do believe that is why David Ferrer will be able to outlast his rivals in the section. The Spaniard seems to have a more comfortable path to a Quarter Final than anyone else and he should be able to outlast anyone he faces in that Round.

Prediction: David Ferrer, although Ernests Gulbis could be the surprise package

Fourth Quarter
The main main in the final section of the draw is a former winner at Roland Garros and the 17 time Grand Slam Champion Roger Federer. There is no way Federer could have picked a better draw for himself than the one he has here, and he has a decent path through to a Quarter Final, barring a potential Third Round match against Julien Benneteau.

The Frenchman has given Federer plenty of problems in the past, including a win earlier this season, although I would fancy the Number 2 seed to beat him on the slower courts and more comfortably than people would initially imagine.

At that point, it could get a lot tougher for Federer as he is likely to face his toughest challenge of the tournament with either Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Marin Cilic and Juan Monaco potential opponents.

All three of those players have doubts surrounding their form, even though Monaco won a weak ATP event at Dusseldorf last week, but the biggest concern for Federer would be facing the mercurial Tsonga.

Last season, we saw Tsonga push Novak Djokovic all the way here at Roland Garros and he certainly has the big game that can make Federer extremely uncomfortable at times. That would be the biggest test for the World Number 2 before the Semi Finals in my opinion, but there is no guarantee that Tsonga will make it to the Quarter Final.

Prediction: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga could be an awkward Quarter Final opponent, but I think Roger Federer will get through to the Semi Final.

So where do I think the winner is coming from? I think it is hard to see anyone but the winner of the Novak Djokovic-Rafael Nadal Semi Final as the winner of the tournament, although there will be some players in the bottom half of the draw hoping the loser of the Semi Final will extract everything out of the winner.

I believe Novak Djokovic has the kryptonite to beat Rafael Nadal on the clay courts- granted, Nadal won three in a row before Monte Carlo this season, including in the Final here last season, but Djokovic has the game to make life awkward for Nadal and that is why I think the World Number 1 will beat him if they play.

While I will take Djokovic to win the tournament, I think it is also wise to take Roger Federer with a small each-way interest. Federer is still a very good clay court player, even if he is unlikely to beat the big two.

However, Federer making the Final would give you a small profit and there is also the small chance that he can take advantage of any fatigue that the winner of the Nadal-Djokovic Semi Final is feeling. The potential Quarter Final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is a concern, but Federer has a dominant record over David Ferrer, his most likely Semi Final opponent. It is a shame that the layers are only offering a third of the price for an each-way pick this time rather than the half odds offers, but that is down to the top heavy nature of the draw.

MY PICKS: Novak Djokovic @ 3.50 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Roger Federer @ 10.00 Coral (1 Unit E/W)

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