So, what of the The Big Five’s chances? Well these days Roger plays when and where he wants – Roland Garros does not qualify. Murray and Stan have been stuck in 2nd gear for months (although maybe Wawrinka’s just hitting form on cue – he’s strong favourite to win Geneva later today). And with Nadal and Nole both falling to young guns Thiem and Zverev respectively last time out that label is close to being defunkt.
In saying that, by consensus Rafa is about evens to lift La Coupe des Mousquetaires come June the 11th and only those mentioned above are considered to be shorter than an 80/1 shot. It’s not a too dissimilar picture to the Premier League with 5 or 6 powerhouses fighting for glory and a void between them and the rest. Can a dark horse ‘do a Leicester’ is the question? We’ll stick our neck out and say [insert your best French accent] “non”.
The women’s draw is more akin to the Grand National than the Premier League with no clear favourite and a whole raft of hopefuls priced sub 50/1. Crazed Svitolina-ramping has been a daily activity for the past four months at JAbet HQ. An early-round banana skin might be the biggest danger for the Ukrainian. Her last two Ls on the dirt have been to Saisai Zheng and Julia Goerges so slapping a ‘vulnerable-versus-the-lower-ranks’ warning on the 2nd favourite might be justified. Looking at the draw adds to such fears; Shvedova shouldn’t be a problem in round 1 but Barthel (Svitolina’s likely round 2 opponent) was well on top before completely falling to pieces in their recent Rome encounter and is capable of beating anyone when finding the court.
Other mentionables include Halep (the favourite), Kuznetsova (the old guard), Muguruza (the defending champ) and Mladenovic (the home cheer). Of these, Kuznetsova and Mladenovic are niggle-free – a big advantage. The former might see this as her best chance to notch a long-awaited 3rd Grand Slam title with Azarenka, Sharapova and Serena all out of the picture and Kvitova surely without much chance in her first tournament back.
What else to look forward to?
- Relentless ba-ba-babababa-ba-badabaaaaa’s from the Phillip Chatrier trumpeteers; we can’t help but think drinking game enthusiasts must have caught on to that one.
- Huge comebacks; Roland Garros is no stranger to these with two of the most famous coming on the same day back in 2011. Kim Clijsters downed by Aranxta Rus from 6-3 5-2 up and 17yo wildcard Caroline Garcia’s less surprising collapse from a similar lead of 6-3 4-1 versus Maria Sharapova. At least a more mature Garcia knows she won’t have to face Sharapova this time round – after much hype the Russian was not awarded a wildcard to this year’s tournament.
- Inevitable rain delays; Wimbledon gets a hard time for taking the precipitation regarding the weather but Roland Garros also has its moments; last year the best part of two days were rained off. Fear not, alongside all the in-play action, upcoming pre-match markets will be available on JAbet.com – something to mull over in the event of the heavens opening.