The women's French Open promises to be a very competitive tournament, and after Thursday's draw, Dan Weston returns to finalise his outright selections...
"Elena Rybakina has magnificent clay data - top five for combined service/return points won on clay in the last 18 months on the main tour - and in what isn’t an absurdly difficult quarter, can progress through nicely here."
Halep with a tricky opening quarter
While the men's tournament has three players much shorter-priced than the field, the women's outright market is much more competitively-priced. There are 11 players currently priced below 49/150.0, compared to three in the men's event, but there's still quite a strong favourite, with Simona Halep trading at 3/14.0 at the time of writing - rather similar to before the draw.
Actually, I'm quite surprised about this. I actually think Halep's first quarter is a very strong bracket with a number of potential threats, and her initial few rounds aren't straightforward. Jill Teichmann (probable round two) is a clay-courter who has impressed post-lockdown, while Amanda Anisimova will also likely need to be overcome in round three. Add other threats in the bracket into the mix - last year's runner-up, Marketa Vondrousova, plus Jo Konta, Dayana Yastremska, Iga Swiatek and the injury-doubt but very strong clay-courter, Kiki Bertens - it should be clear that this is not likely to be plain sailing for the Romanian in the first five rounds.
Williams and Azarenka in quarter two
The other brackets seem less stacked, in my view. Quarter two has a number of players with question marks over them in it. Serena Williams is an obvious headline player in the bracket, as well as Victoria Azarenka, who has been superb since the tour resumed. Elina Svitolina also features, with the Ukrainian currently in the final of WTA Strasbourg this afternoon. In addition, we have Elise Mertens, Anett Kontaveit and Caroline Garcia in the quarter, but it feels much less stacked of players with huge potential upside than Halep's first quarter.
Rybakina capable of winning quarter three
It's a bit of a leave-alone for me, but my first pick comes from quarter three. Elena Rybakina has magnificent clay data - top five for combined service/return points won on clay in the last 18 months on the main tour - and in what isn't an absurdly difficult quarter, can progress through nicely here. She's playing the final of Strasbourg against Svitolina this afternoon, and I prefer the 11/26.4 about her to win quarter three, as opposed to 25/126.0 for the entire tournament.
There's a number of hard courters in the bracket, with Sofia Kenin and Jennifer Brady in particular having much to prove on clay - and Brady could be vulnerable against the ultra-high potential 17-year-old qualifier Clara Tauson in round one.
The one early problem for Rybakina could be Karolina Muchova in round three, and we could go for a little saver on the Czech big-server, Muchova, at 139/1140.0 on the Exchange. She also has strong future upside.
Injury doubts mean potential for surprise winner in quarter four
Finally, in quarter four, we see several injury doubts feature. These include Karolina Pliskova and Madison Keys, who both retired last time out, as well as Petra Kvitova and Petra Martic, who also have solid clay data. A lot will depend on Pliskova's fitness - statistically she looks the best player in the quarter - and it wouldn't shock me if we saw a surprise semi-finalist out of Q4.
Sloane Stephens has done well in the past here, and despite mediocre hard court numbers still has solid underlying clay data. She's 109/1110.0, while Angelique Kerber's opponent in round one, Kaja Juvan, is 19 years old and has decent clay numbers as well, plus a lot of future upside - you may remember her taking the opening set from Serena Williams at Wimbledon last year in their second round clash. Juvan is a huge 309/1310.0 on the Exchange, odds which have the potential to tumble should she get past Kerber in round one.
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Back Elena Rybakina at 11/26.4 to win quarter three
Back Karolina Muchova at 139/1140.0 with a view to future hedging