French Open rewind: What we learned and how we can apply it to Wimbledon betting

Rafa Nadal playing in the Australian Open
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Ricky Dimon

Tennis · 3 weeks ago

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

Two majors down, two to go….

If you use the four biggest tournaments as a metric, we are halfway through the 2022 season in professional tennis. On the men’s side, Rafael Nadal has won both the Australian Open and the French Open. There is also just one active player on the women’s side who has captured a Grand Slam title this year. That’s because Aussie Open champion Ashleigh Barty abruptly retired while on top of the WTA rankings, opening the door for Iga Swiatek to dominate the sport. Swiatek is now a two-time champion at Roland Garros after lifting the trophy this past Saturday.

With the clay-court festivities having come and gone, attention turns to grass. There is no rest of the weary, as Wimbledon begins in exactly 3 weeks. With no time to waste let’s take a look back at what just transpired in Paris and what it could mean for Wimbledon.

Nadal halfway to calendar-year Grand Slam

I backed Nadal at +900 prior to the Australian Open and at +370 before the French Open started. So I might as well go right back to the well for Wimbledon, right? Not so fast…. Nadal just barely got through difficult matches against Felix Auger-Aliassime, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev (the German was forced to retire with an ankle injury) and admitted following Sunday’s final that he was getting various injections for his injured foot basically every day in Paris. The 36-year-old said that he isn’t willing to go through those same kind of rigors at the All-England Club. If the state of his foot doesn’t generally improve between now and Wimbledon, he won’t play. Even if he does suit up, keep in mind that grass is Nadal’s worst surface. He was won Wimbledon twice (not bad by mere mortals’ standards); he has won the French Open 14 times. The Spaniard may be tempted to give it a go in London since this is the first time he has ever put himself halfway to the calendar-year Grand Slam with victories in Melbourne and Paris, but confidence in his chances should be tempered.

Can anyone stop Swiatek?

After bulldozing her way through the French Open draw, Swiatek has now won 35 matches in a row. Like Nadal, the 21-year-old has been by far the best player on her respective tour in 2022. Also like Nadal, Swiatek is much more accomplished on clay than she is on grass. The better news for her, of course, is that she has no lingering physical problem and no injury history in general. The world No. 1 will be ready to try her hand at Wimbledon at 100 percent. Odds not being taken into account, I would obviously pick Swiatek over anyone else in the field. However, challengers like Coco Gauff (lost to Swiatek in the French Open final), Naomi Osaka (four-time major champion), Petra Kvitova (two-time Wimbledon winner) and Karolina Pliskova (2021 Wimbledon runner-up) have a much better shot at beating Swiatek on grass.

Iga Swiatek

Early look at Wimbledon best bets

With Nadal a question mark, all-time greats such Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Venus Williams still sidelined and every player from Russia and Belarus banned, the Wimbledon entry lists are a bit depleted. Things occasionally get crazy on the grass, and that is certainly like it could be the case this year.

That means — at least for the moment — I am looking at longshots. Djokovic favored against the entire field (-110)? No, thanks. Carlos Alcaraz, who has never been past the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam and is unproven on grass, at +450? Nope. Nadal at +700? Pass. Matteo Berrettini, who missed the entire clay-court swing because of injury? Absolutely not. Give me Auger-Aliassime at +1400 (FanDuel), Nick Kyrgios at +2700 (DraftKings) and Marin Cilic at +3200 (DraftKings). All three of those guys have huge serves and all-around big weapons that make them extremely dangerous on grass. Auger-Aliassime pushed Nadal to five sets last week and he made a semifinal run at Wimbledon last summer. Kyrgios watched from home as everyone else slogged it out on clay, so he is well-rested for his return on his grass-court stomping grounds. Cilic advanced to the Roland Garros semis and he is a former finalist at Wimbledon.

The same strategy applies to the women. For both genders, grass is conducive to upsets because the singular shot that is the serve is so important. Even a considerable underdog on any given day can virtually take the racket out of a favorite’s hands with an incredible serving display. That’s part of the reason why I’m not touching Swiatek at +160. Give me Gauff at +1200, Angelique Kerber at +2600 and Madison Keys +3800. Gauff should be off to the races now that she has a slam final under her belt, Kerber is a former Wimbledon champion and Keys’ serve can make her a nightmare on grass.

The Pickswise tennis handicappers are on hand throughout the entire tennis season, bringing you the best free expert Tennis Predictions and Picks from top events including the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open.

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