The French Open has been full of drama and excitement, and shocks. However, while some big names have left early, the two Grand Slam legends Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have yet to be beaten and remain on course to meet each other in the final.
Could either of the two men be dumped out at the semi-final stage at Roland Garros? Let’s take a look.
The favourite to win La Coupe des Mousquetaires (or ‘The Musketeers’ Trophy’) is yet to drop a set on his way to the semi-finals. Nadal, a 12-time winner of the French Open Men’s Singles trophy at Roland Garros, has largely cruised through to the final four despite complaining of a heavy court surface, poor standard tennis balls and dismal weather.
Despite his grumbles, the famously OCD Spaniard is just two wins away from hopping onto a a plane home having closed out the Grand Slam season by levelling at the top of the all-time winners chart with his great frenemy, Roger Federer on 20 titles.
Before that coronation can happen, of course, he has to win those games, the first of which is a mouth-watering semi-final with Argentinian Diego Schwartzman. You may recall us tipping the Argentine for great things at the start of the event, so if you listened to our advice and held firm, you’ll currently be cashing out your 50/1 bet with his odds having dropped to around 20/1 – quite a profit.
Can Schwartzman beat Nadal, however? The statistics say otherwise. Even taking Nadal’s unbeatable historic record in Paris, his results this time around are equally formidable. In the first round, Nadal, who has played each round on Philippe-Chatrier, took care of Belarussian Egor Gerasimov 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. The second round saw Nadal eliminate American Mack McDonald with consummate ease dropping only four games, before equally impressive 3rd and 4th round defeats of Italian Stefano Travaglia and U.S. player Sebastian Korda sent him into the quarter-final.
Once in the final eight, Nadal took care of Italian qualifier Jannik Sinner, dropping his serve in the first set only to break back late in the set and take the tie-break, before wrapping up a straight sets victory 7-6, 6-4, 6-1.
While Nadal (2/13) is a massive favourite to beat Schwartzman (11/2) in the semi-final, we think Schwartzman might be the first to take a set of the Spanish tennis legend along the way. Take the 11/4 for Nadal to take the match by three sets to one.
Our tip: Nadal to win the match 3-1 (11/4)
While Rafael Nadal has eased through to the last four, his main rival has done nothing of the sort. Novak Djokovic may have made the semi-finals, but he’s done so in gruelling fashion, albeit at the loss of only one set.
In the first round, the under-pressure Serbian prevailed 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 against Swedish player Mikael Ymer, before winning 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 against Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis. In the 3rd round, Djokovic beat the largely unknown Colombian player Daniel Elahi Galan 6-0, 6-3, 6-2, but the next round was to prove a lot tricker, talented Russian Karen Khachanov eventually going down 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.
The quarter-final was harder still, Spanish player Pablo Carreno-Busta taking the first set 6-4 and making only three double faults in the match. Busta also had a vastly better first serve win percentage (70%) to Djokovic’s 58% win ratio. But in the break points, it was the Serb who had the edge, eventually winning 6/13 to Busta’s 3/13 in what must feel like a missed opportunity for the Spanish world number 18.
Eventually winning through 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4, Djokovic will face a rejuvenated Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in Sunday’s final. The Greek player will be playing in his first semi-final, but he was doing exactly the same in the quarter-final and against a very talented opponent in Russian 13th seed, Andrey Rublev.
Tsitsipas reduced his opponent to just three break points across three sets on Thursday and will provide a real challenge to Djokovic. The Greek player won five of the eight break points he forced, and with an 80% first serve win percentage and we think at odds of 13/5, Tsitsipas could provide great value. Djokovic is as short 3/10 almost across the board and while it could be a classic, we can see the younger man causing the man with 16 Grand Slams some trouble.
Interestingly, Tsitsipas (8/1) and Djokovic (6/1) might be best backed in a match that goes to five sets, with each man’s 3-2 winning score looking ace.
French Open Men’s Singles Latest Odds to win the tournament outright:
Rafael Nadal – 11/10
Novak Djokovic – 5/4
Stefanos Tsitsipas – 9/1
Diego Schwartzman – 22/1