French Open Day 13 preview and best bets: No stopping Nadal now
It’s men’s semifinals day at the French Open. Having already toppled Novak Djokovic while also watching Carlos Alcaraz bow out of the tournament, Rafael Nadal has to like the fact that the door to title No. 14 at Roland Garros appears to have been blown open. Nadal is going up against Alexander Zverev on Friday, preceding a more surprising matchup between Casper Ruud and Marin Cilic.
I needed a big betting day and that’s exactly what I got in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, going 3-0 – including two picks at plus money. Overall I am 4-1 in my last five best bets after correctly predicting that Coco Gauff would make quick work of Martina Trevisan on Thursday. Gauff is now one win away from capturing the title and cashing my +2000 outright futures play before the tournament started.
Let’s keep the momentum going as we take a look at some of the best bets to be made for Day 13!
Rafael Nadal -1.5 sets over Alexander Zverev (-150)
Getting battle-tested by Felix Auger-Aliassime in a five-setter probably proved to be a good thing for Nadal, who was primed and ready to go for his quarterfinal date with Djokovic and took down the world No. 1 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(4) on Tuesday night. Now the Spaniard heads into the semis with a perfect balance of confidence having won multiple tough matches and also rest (he had two full days off in between matches). And the importance of rest can’t be understated for a 35-year-old who has a history of injuries. There has been no sign of Nadal’s foot problem so far this fortnight, so you have to feel good about his chances both on Friday and in the overall tournament. Yes, I am feeling great about my +370 outright futures bet made before the fortnight began.
Zverev is no pushover, but he trails the head-to-head series 6-3 and 4-1 on clay. It’s also worth noting that the third-ranked German is 1-3 lifetime in slam semis. A semifinal against the King of Clay is the toughest test of all. Nadal is a ridiculous 110-3 in his career at Roland Garros, including 13-1 in semifinal matches. Zverev may be able to steal one set if he serves extremely well, but I would be very surprised by two.
Marin Cilic ML over Casper Ruud (+200)
Cilic on a +4.5 game spread (-120) is obviously a safer play, but let’s go bigger because the underdog has a great chance of winning this one straight up. I was all over Cilic on the +116 money line against Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals on Tuesday and he delivered. That victory was preceded by a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 rout of world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev. We have seen in the past from three Grand Slam final appearances (including the 2014 U.S. Open title) that when Cilic gets hot he gets really hot. So even though this semifinal run is surprising, maybe it shouldn’t be that big of a shock.
Meanwhile, Ruud has not been as impressive throughout this event. The 23-year-old Norwegian struggled against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a tight four-setter, needed five sets to get past Lorenzo Sonego and dropped a set to both Hubert Hurkacz and Holger Rune. Actually, Ruud’s entire clay-court swing has been a bit underwhelming – although obviously, this French Open result is a great one even if he loses on Thursday. And he might. Even though the world No. 8 is favored, this isn’t a great matchup for him. Cilic has much more offensive weaponry, so if the veteran plays well he is probably going to win. Based on his five previous matches in Paris, there is no reason to think that Cilic is suddenly going to stop playing well. He has all of the experience in this slam semifinal matchup, so go with the upset.
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