The odds are definitely against Aryna Sabalenka in the 2021 French Open – the big-hitting 23-year-old Belarusian has yet to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final.
But records are there to be broken, and curses are there to be ended – at least that’s the way Stryker Maguire views life. Every challenge and hardship = an even bigger opportunity.
No lesser mind than former world number 1 Jim Courier said of Sabalenka this week: “I think the breakthrough is definitely coming” and Stryker can feel it too.
We know Sabalenka can operate effectively on clay – she’s compiled an 11-2 ledger this season highlighted by a win in Madrid and a final appearance in Stuttgart. Her talent and ability have never been in question, she says it’s the mental side of her game which she now has to tame. And that means conquering that Slam curse.
“This is what I mentally changed,” she said. “I think it was the biggest improvement, because before I was really thinking a lot about Grand Slams, that I really want to win it, and all these things, which does not really help you to win the Grand Slam. You just put a lot of pressure on yourself.
“It’s not really helping. So the biggest improvement was to stop thinking about the winning of Grand Slam. Just to start working. And that’s it.”
Thirteen appearances in the biggest tennis events of the year have yet to yield but one trip to the quarters. We expect that to change in Roland Garros over the next two weeks.
French Open history is littered with surprise winners – but despite that miserable Grand Slam resume it would be a reach to say that about a Sabalenka win. She is seeded 3 after all and clearly has the physical tools to dominate in the French capital.
It’s a women’s draw lacking in several star names at the top of the odds line, and those stars are available at big prices for a reason.
Most of the pre-event publicity has been about press conferences and not tennis, with US Open queen Naomi Osaka drawing a ton of heat for saying she’ll skip media availability in Paris. She’s a +1700 shot and never been past R3 at Roland Garros. That suggests she wouldn’t need to deal with those pesky tennis writers for long anyways.
It seems pretty incredible that we’ve got this deep into a Slam preview and not mentioned Serena Williams yet, but here we go.
Serena remains in search of that elusive 24th Slam, but she is hardly in the right sort of form to reel off a string of wins over an intensive fortnight. She’s played just three times since the Australian Open early in the year, losing twice.
As well as having age and recent history against her, Serena also has a pretty brutal draw to contend with. Even if she goes well, her fortnight could look something like this:
- R3: Angelique Kerber
- R4: Petra Kvitova
- QF: Aryna Sabalenka
- SF: Naomi Osaka
- F: Top seed Ashleigh Barty or defending champion Iga Swiatek
Good luck with that even if you are the GWOAT…
The men’s tournament is hardly wide open – only a handful of players are available at odds shorter than +4000.
Predictably the king of Paris Rafa Nadal is a hot favorite at -115 to clinch an unbelievable 14th title here. As well as being ageless he’s also just about unbeatable on the red clay of Roland Garros.
Nadal arrives in Paris on the back of an Italian Open win capped off by a final defeat of second favorite Novak Djokovic. He also has the goal of a record 21st Grand Slam title to aim for. He is currently bracketed on 20 with Roger Federer.
It’s difficult to see past the Spaniard winning yet again in France, but the value in his odds is poor, so we are out.
French Open 2021 Picks
We’ve already given you the biggest possible spoiler. Sabalenka rates our headline pick for the two weeks coming up. You can get +800 with Draftkings, 888Sport or Unibet. Don’t wait – bet now before the action gets under way Sunday.
OddsCritic Pick: Aryna Sabalenka to win women’s French Open at +800 (DraftKings, 888Sport, Unibet)
French Open 2021 Odds
Latest odds for the 2021 French Open men’s and women’s singles are as follows:
- +280 Iga Swiatek (widely available)
- +500 Ashleigh Barty (DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet)
- +800 Aryna Sabalenka (DraftKings, 888Sport, Unibet)
- +1600 Garbine Muguruza (bet365)
- +1700 Naomi Osaka (FanDuel, SugarHouse)
- +2400 Petra Kvitova (FanDuel)
- +2500 Bianca Andreescu (PointsBet)
- +2800 Serena Williams (bet365)
- -115 Rafael Nadal (FanDuel)
- +500 Novak Djokovic (widely available)
- +550 Stefanos Tsitsipas (FanDuel)
- +1200 Dominic Thiem (widely available)
- +1400 Alexander Zverev (bet365)
NB: All odds correct at 0900 ET on Saturday May 29, 2021
When is the 2021 French Open?
The 2021 French Open starts Sunday May 30 and runs through Sunday June 13.
The women’s final takes place Saturday June 12, with the men’s final capping off the tournament a day later.
Most days play starts at 1100 local time on all courts, with the feature Chatrier court getting under way an hour later at noon. There is also a night session this year, starting at 2100 local time.
Watching the French Open on US TV
You can watch the 2021 French Open on a number of different TV channels and platforms. NBC, NBSN, Tennis Channel and Peacock will all have coverage.
FuboTV will also be streaming the second Slam of 2021 and the platform is currently offering a seven-day trial.
The new night session is a nice treat for U.S. viewers. Paris is some six hours ahead of New York, so if you don’t fancy getting up at some crazy hour to watch the earlier play, that’s a good option.