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Roland Garros 2019 men's favourites, form and best odds: Can anyone stop a Djokovic-Nadal final at the French Open?

Hannah Wilks 24 May 2019
  • Only two men have ever beaten Rafael Nadal at the French Open
  • Can Novak Djokovic do it again as he tries to complete a second career Grand Slam?
  • French Open live streaming available – watch and bet on tennis live from Roland Garros at bet365 (geo-restrictions apply. Streams available to customers with an active balance)
Who will claim the French Open title in 2019?

French Open men’s form and favourites - can anyone stop Rafael Nadal from claiming an amazing twelfth Roland Garros title?

Date: Sunday 26 May-Sunday 9 June

Start time: Play starts at 11am local/10am BST

Venue: Roland Garros, Paris

Surface: Clay

French Open predictions, favourites and stats

Now that the official men’s singles draw has been released for the 2019 French Open, let’s take a look at the favourites for the title, their form and whether the draw has done them any favours.

Rafael Nadal, evens @ William Hill 
11-time champion Nadal is the obvious favourite for the Roland Garros title in 2019 – in 14 years, he’s been beaten exactly twice at the French Open. A phenomenon on these courts, Nadal is going for his twelfth title but is there reason to believe that he might struggle to get it, after failing to get number 12 in Barcelona and Monte Carlo and losing in Madrid as well?

Nadal’s semifinal defeats at the aforementioned tournaments to Dominic Thiem, Fabio Fognini and Stefanos Tsitsipas did suggest some vulnerability, but he claimed a statement win in Rome when he beat Tsitsipas and Novak Djokovic on his way to the title. Moreover, beating Nadal over the best of five sets is a very different beast from doing it in a best-of-three match. 

And the draw did Nadal big favours – not that he needed them. Thiem, Fognini, Juan Martin del Potro are all in the top half. There are two players in his half that, if you squint really hard, might have a look at beating him – Tsitsipas and 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka – but no other remotely realistic challengers before the semifinals, which is when he would face Tsitsipas or Wawrinka. 

It looks like only injury can stop Nadal before the final, so this bet really relies upon whether you believe Djokovic can beat him in that final.

Novak Djokovic, 12/5 @ Ladbrokes

Speaking of Djokovic …

The superb Serb is seven matches away from completing a second career Grand Slam/holding all four majors at the same time, which would be an incredible achievement – he just has to go through Nadal to get it. 

After quarterfinal exits the past two years, Djokovic finally looks back to the form that saw him win the French Open in 2016 after three times being denied in the final – at least he did in Melbourne, where he crushed Nadal in the final. He went 10-2 on clay in 2019, winning Madrid and finishing runner-up to Nadal in Rome (but only after winning absolutely superb contests with Diego Schwartzman and Juan Martin del Potro). 

Could we see a similar case in Paris, with Djokovic playing great but getting worn down by tough opposition on the way to the final? His draw is certainly tougher than Nadal’s, starting with the very promising Hubert Hurkacz in the first round; potential opponents include Borna Coric, Roberto Bautista Agut (who’s got multiple wins over Djokovic this year, albeit not on clay), Fabio Fognini and, when he gets to the semifinals, Dominic Thiem or Juan Martin del Potro, two men who can be relied upon to make Djokovic work very hard. 

And yet I can’t forget that the last time these two met at a Grand Slam, when Nadal had breezed through the draw while Djokovic had labored, Djokovic got a crushing victory. I also have a lot more faith in Djokovic’s body holding up over a fortnight than I do in Nadal’s doing the same. I think this title is what Djokovic wanted this year more than anything – and he usually gets what he wants.

Dominic Thiem – 7/1 @ Bet Victor

A semifinalist at the French Open for the past three years, a finalist last year, now a Masters 1000 Series champion and with a win over Nadal in the run-up – if, somehow, it isn’t going to be Djokovic or Nadal who wins Roland Garros in 2019, surely it’s going to be Thiem.

There are a number of tough players in Thiem’s path, however, not least potential quarterfinal opponent Juan Martin del Potro, plus Pablo Cuevas, Fernando Verdasco or Gael Monfils and more. Most pertinently, it seems overwhelmingly likely that he’d have to beat Djokovic – not the one he ousted in straight sets in 2017, but a far superior version – and Nadal back-to-back to get the title. I could see him doing one, but not both.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, 22/1 @ Boyle Sports

The Greek sensation continues to impress, and not just with his vlogs, following his Australian Open semifinal run by winning titles in Marseille and Estoril and then a clay season which saw him beat Nadal to make the Madrid final and reach the semifinals in Rome. 

He’s got a few hurdles in his way at Roland Garros: Maximilian Marterer, who’s good, in the first round; Stan Wawrinka or perhaps Cristian Garin in the round of 16; likely Roger Federer in the quarterfinals. If he gets through all of that, he won’t get through Nadal, not in a best-of-five sets match. Talented as the Greek is, he’s still raw at this level.

Roger Federer, 33/1 @ Betfair

The 2009 champion returns to the French Open for the first time since 2015, and he played a lot better than anyone expected in his warm-up events in Madrid and Rome (before pulling out of the latter with a leg injury, anyway). There’s some challenges in Federer’s path – he could face the big-serving and fast-improving Matteo Berrettini in the third round, Marco Cecchinato or Diego Schwartzman in the round of 16, Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals – and we’ve seen in recent years how his focus can flicker and glitch over the best of five. This is the surface on which it’s most difficult for Federer to limit exposure with big serving, too. Semifinals are plausible, but beating Nadal in said semifinals is … not.

Alexander Zverev, 40/1 @ Unibet
Into the Geneva Open final at the time of writing, third seed Zverev has had the kind of poor season so far which doesn’t bode well for his chances of overturning his reputation as a Grand Slam under-performer. With Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters finalist Dusan Lajovic and champion Fabio Fognini in his path through the first four rounds, he’ll be lucky if he makes it as far as losing to Djokovic in the quarterfinals.

Juan Martin del Potro, 77/1 @ Unibet

It can only have been del Potro’s superb performance against Djokovic in Rome, when he held two match points against the world no. 1, that has the Argentine so high up in the favourites, because he’s only played a handful of matches since fracturing his kneecap in Shanghai last October. Sadly he doesn’t have the match fitness to be anything like a realistic bet for the title, or the draw; the very good Nicolas Jarry in the first round, Felix Auger-Aliassime in the third (both in finals this weekend, admittedly), then Karen Khachanov or Lucas Pouille, then Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals. I wouldn’t be surprised if he went out to Jarry in the first round; there’s no way past Djokovic in the semifinals.

Stan Wawrinka, 80/1 @ Ladbrokes

The 2015 champion is the biggest wildcard imaginable in this draw, in that he can beat absolutely anybody if he’s fit and feeling it, up to and including Djokovic, Federer and Nadal. But we haven’t seen Wawrinka fit and feeling it since his knee surgeries, and despite flickers of form this year, that hasn’t changed in the run-up to this major.

Wawrinka also has one hell of a tough draw, likely facing the very good Cristian Garin in the second round, then Marin Cilic or perhaps Grigor Dimitrov in the third. If he can get through that little lot without expending too much energy, then I don’t see him being stopped by Tsitsipas or Federer. But he just doesn’t have the match fitness against top-level opposition to go on and beat Nadal in the semifinals and then Djokovic in the final as well. 

French Open outright men’s singles betting tips

It’s a regrettable cliché, but there it is: It’s impossible really to see another final other than Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal at this year’s French Open.

The players who one could envisage busting up said final – Dominic Thiem, perhaps Juan Martin del Potro or Stan Wawrinka – are either in Djokovic’s half of the draw or lacking in match fitness. 

On paper, you’d say things favour Nadal: He beat Djokovic in Rome, winning sets 6-0 and 6-1; he’s won their last three matches on clay. But then, Djokovic hasn’t really been at his best in those recent encounters, either going through his 18-month slump in 2017-18, or on the wrong end of a scheduling disadvantage, as he was in Rome. Moreover, there’s a real possibility that injury could intervene for Nadal, suddenly, shockingly.

I think it comes down to this: The last time we saw Djokovic play anywhere near as well as he has played at times this year, he beat Nadal at the French Open and then won the title the following year. Nadal’s Rome run was impressive, but there were real vulnerabilities showing for most of the clay-court season. I think Djokovic, even with a tougher draw, is going to take this title and do it by beating Nadal in the final.

French Open men’s outright winner recommended bet

Novak Djokovic to win the 2019 French Open – 12/5 @ Ladbrokes

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Roland Garros 2019 men's favourites, form and best odds: Can anyone stop a Djokovic-Nadal final at the French Open?

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