The men’s draw at the French Open will have a distinctly different feel without 14-time champion Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros this year.
With Nadal sidelined by injury, fellow Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz is the favorite entering the tournament. Although he lost in the Round of 32 at the ATP Italian Open, Alcaraz is 20-2 on clay surfaces and has reached the finals in five of seven tournaments this year.
The top-ranked player in the world is the +165 favorite at BetMGM. Alcaraz opened at +1400, but those odds shortened significantly when Nadal withdrew and he has now drawn 20.8 percent of the total bets to win the men’s title along with 21.2 percent of the money. That makes Alcaraz the biggest remaining liability on the men’s side for the sportsbook.
The action has been similar at BetRivers, where Alcaraz is the +163 favorite and has been backed by the most money (42.1 percent) and the second-most total bets (27.3 percent).
Novak Djokovic is the only player other than Nadal to win multiple French Open titles since 2003, and he is attempting to break the all-time tie with Nadal of 22 Grand Slam titles.
“It’s no secret that one of the main reasons I play today and compete in professional tennis is to try to break more records and make more history in tennis,” Djokovic said Saturday. “That’s extremely motivating and inspiring for me. History being on the line is something that is very flattering and is very motivating, no doubt about it.”
The third-seeded Serbian has been backed by 19.5 percent of the tickets and 23.6 percent of the money at BetMGM, making him the book’s third-biggest liability. Djokovic is +250 at BetRivers and leads the men’s draw with 41.3 percent of the total bets placed on the champion. He has also been backed by 19.0 of the money.
At BetRivers, fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas (+1600), No. 4 Casper Rudd (+1600) and No. 8 Jannik Sinner (+1100) follow behind Alcaraz and Djokovic in both total bets and money wagered. Second-seeded Daniil Medvedev is being offered at +900, but owns just a 28-25 all-time record on clay — although he is 10-2 on the surface this year.
“I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself, in a way,” said Medvedev, who is coming off his first tour-level title on clay in Rome. “I, for sure, maybe have more expectation than I usually have in Roland Garros. But I know that it’s also tricky and you have to kind of use this confidence but not get cocky because that’s where the danger is.”
Meanwhile, Alcaraz, Djokovic and Tsitsipas are all in the same half of the draw, with Alcaraz and Djokovic potential semifinal opponents.
“Obviously, Nadal not playing in the tournament here is a big loss for tennis. It is a big loss for Roland Garros because he’s by far the most successful player to play in this tournament in the history,” Djokovic said. “Of course, it opens up, you know, a chance and opportunity for the rest of us to try to get a title, because whenever he plays, he’s an absolute favorite here or any clay court tournament, for that matter.”
Alcaraz, Medvedev and Djokovic can each leave Roland Garros with the No. 1 ranking if they win the French Open, while Tsitsipas also has an opportunity to claim the top spot.
The last American male to reach the quarterfinals at Roland Garros was Andre Agassi in 2003, and it appears unlikely that trend will change this year.
No. 9 Taylor Fritz and No. 12 Frances Tiafoe share the shortest odds among the American men, but neither has advanced past the second round of the French Open.
–Field Level Media