2011 Rome Masters Champion, Maria Sharapova (above).
We thought Caesar’s was rough on the men, and they were, if you aren’t Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal–the only men given a shadow of a chance to win at Roland Garros. Wait until you see the odds for the ladies chamionship:
French Open Ladies Champion Odds
Agnieszka Radwanska: + 5000 (wager 100 units to win 5000, plus initial wager)
Alexandra Dulgheru: + 10000
Alisa Kleybanova: + 10000
Ana Ivanovic: + 2500
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: + 4000
Andrea Petkovic: + 3000
Aravane Rezai: + 10000
Caroline Wozniacki: + 500
Daniela Hantuchova: + 10000
Flavia Pennetta: + 8000
Francesca Schiavone (defending champion): + 1500
Jarmila Groth: + 10000
Jelena Jankovic: + 1500
Kaia Kanepi: + 10000
Kim Clijsters: + 1000
Maria Sharapova: + 800
Marion Bartoli: + 6000
Na Li: + 2500
Nadia Petrova: + 12500
Petra Kvitova: + 1000
Samantha Stosur: + 800
Svetlana Kuznetsova: + 1500
Vera Zvonareva: + 1000
Victoria Azarenka: + 450
Yanina Wickmayer: + 5000
Yaroslava Shvedova: + 12500
Field (Any Other Player): + 800
Right off the bat, we find it very interesting that only 4 players have odds better than or equal to any other player in the field. That’s a huge indicator that this field is wide open, and that the odds makers do not have a lot of confidence in anyone. By the way, did we miss the newsflash about Petra Kvitova? She’s been given good odds despite having reached the 4th round at Roland Garros only once, and having only a 3-2 lifetime record there. She has had a good year, and won Madrid, but considering the depleted field, we can’t even call it impressive fashion.
Kim Clijsters, fresh off of a long layoff due to an ankle injury suffered at her cousin’s wedding, is strapping up for Roland Garros, knowing the window for this major is closing for her. We usually like her after long layoffs, but not when she’s hurt. She’s a + 1000, and normally, you’d have to jump all over that, except, how many people win the Frech with serious ankle injuries?
We like Zvonareva a bit at + 1000, who has an 18-7 record at Roland Garros, a quarter-final appearance in 2003, and 2 round of 16 appearances, though only one “recently” (2008). Zvonareva is a smart player and we like her style. She may be able to navigate such a downtrodden field. As for Stosur and Sharapova, we like neither, and Stosur especially, has shown us nothing in the big spot. Stosur has definitely been the better clay courter here recently, and yet Masha destroyed her Sunday in Rome, and is 8-0 lifetime in the matchup. We aren’t rushing to put anything down on any of these ladies though.
There’s lots of respect for the favorite, Victoria Azarenka, and she is the favorite with good reason. She has power and mobility, and keeps the ball in play, unlike world #1, Caroline Wozniacki, who has no power. Now would be a great time for either of these ladies to step up and grab their first real hardware, but neither look that good to us. Azarenka recently came up lame and retired in the 2nd set against Sharapova last week, and Maria simply took Wozniacki to school.
Gun to our head, we’d probably lay the money on Sharapova, the most tested and true champion in the field, who also happens to be playing a lot, and playing well. The weaknesses in her game on real tennis courts, like her inability to move forward, volley, and hit over-heads will affect her less on clay, where she will be content to play everything from the baseline. And, she may get a little extra motivation from her man, Sasha Vujacic, who has been travelling with her since the Lakers got swept. Otherwise, we’d be all over Clijsters, but a bad wheel at Roland Garros is very bad news.
With this diluted field, maybe even a young American can catch a break. If Sloane Stephens can take out Anastasia Pivarova in the final round of qualifying, then Sloane is into the main draw, along with the diminutive Irina Falconi, who won the USTA’s French Open wildcard competition, and not our girl Lauren Davis, much to our chagrin. World #124 Jamie Hampton, an Alabama product, is also one win away from qualifying for the main draw. It’s also nice to see Pennsylvania’s Alison Riske is in to the main draw, and will be playing in her first French Ope. And here’s to the field getting healthy for Wimbledon. We can live with a piss poor champion in the mud, but not on the royal lawns.