French Open Men's Singles Outright Tips: Ruud capable of surprise in quarter three

Austrian Tennis Player Dominic Thiem
Dominic Thiem doesn't start the tournament in great form...

Following yesterday's French Open draw, there's plenty to discuss as Dan Weston returns to finalise his outright thoughts on the men's singles market...

"Ruud faces Benoit Paire in round one, who has won three main tour matches in the last year, before a potential clash against Kamil Majchrzak or wild-card Arthur Cazaux, who has barely played a main tour match."

Nadal price pretty consistent following draw

As anticipated, there are numerous talking points following yesterday's draw in Paris, as the 128 players in the French Open know their potential pathways to the final. Realistically, many have about as much chance of lifting the trophy as you or I, but there's some fascinating dynamics surrounding those players who are much more likely to achieve success.

Rafa Nadal's market price has stayed pretty consistent, with the Spaniard trading at 2.001/1 at the time of writing, which is a drift of just 2-3 ticks since my pre-draw preview, written on Wednesday.

The King of Clay has been drawn in quarter two, with a potential first three rounds against Alexei Popryin, Richard Gasquet and Lorenzo Sonego. Of the trio, Sonego will be much more tricky, but Nadal will still be an overwhelming favourite against the improving Italian.

Djokovic friendless in the market after being drawn in same half as Nadal

The implications of Nadal being drawn in Q2 are abundant. Firstly, it means he cannot face top seed Novak Djokovic in the final - Djokovic is in quarter one, so if the tournament plays according to seedings, it will be a Djokovic v Nadal semi-final in the top half of the draw.

Djokovic's first three matches aren't hugely difficult, with Tennys Sandgren, Pablo Cuevas and Ugo Humbert his possible opposition, but he's also going to have to deal with another improving Italian, Matteo Berrettini, and also Roger Federer.

Quarter two also features Andrey Rublev, Jannik Sinner, Aslan Karatsev and Diego Schwartzman - all players who could conceivably be a tough match for any player on clay.

Due to the reasons above, Djokovic has drifted from 5.69/2 to 7.26/1 and he's pretty friendless in the market right now - as is Federer, who has also drifted but this time to 160.0159/1.

Even though Djokovic has produced better clay stats than Nadal this year so far, there is still plenty to consider - firstly, Djokovic's schedule which includes a virtual Challenger event in Belgrade this week in a warm-up tournament, and also, that Nadal has lost just one match at Roland Garros in the last decade.

Ruud could exploit Thiem's uninspiring 2021

It's quarter three where I think there might be some slight value in the outright market, given that it contains Dominic Thiem, who I'm keen to oppose due to injury and an uninspiring 2021 so far. It also features Alexander Zverev and Casper Ruud, and I quite like Ruud's draw. Ruud faces Benoit Paire in round one, who has won a mere three main tour matches in the last year, before a potential clash against Kamil Majchrzak or wild-card Arthur Cazaux, who has barely played a main tour match.

Ruud is 13/2 with the Sportsbook to emerge from the quarter, and, cautiously, I prefer that over the price of Thiem in particular.

Tsitsipas a strong favourite to get through quarter four

Following the draw, I'd expect Stefanos Tsitsipas to make the final. He got the lucky draw with the clay-hating Daniil Medvedev as his top four seed, and doesn't have a massive threat throughout in that bracket - albeit with some capable players such as Grigor Dimitrov or the high potential Sebastian Korda in his fourth quarter, which also features a number of big-servers who are unlikely to thrive in best of five set matches on non-fast clay.

Unfortunately in terms of value, the market agrees, slashing the Greek man's price from a pre-draw 10.09/1 to a current 6.411/2, which makes Tsitsipas the second favourite for the tournament. The market thinks that Nadal vs Tsitsipas is the most likely final in what is likely to be another top-heavy men's Grand Slam, and I'm minded to agree with the market on that one.


Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings

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