French Open: Rafael Nadal's title odds stung by tough opener

League: Tennis

Posted on: 23 May, 2024 at 10:19 PM

Credit: Albert Cesare / USA TODAY NETWORK

Rafael Nadal typically hasn't faced much adversity when he has walked onto the grounds at Roland Garros.

The 14-time French Open champion boasts a 112-3 all-time record at the event, but he faces a daunting challenge in his quest for a 23rd career Grand Slam title.

Nadal, who turns 38 on June 3, won the French Open in 2022 but was not able to defend last year due to injury. Age and injuries have caught up to the Spaniard, who is expected to make this his final run at Roland Garros.

Already a longshot, Nadal's chances of a triumphant cap to his French Open resume took a significant hit with the release of the men's draw on Thursday. His first-round opponent will be fourth-seeded German Alexander Zverev, who battled Nadal in the 2022 semifinals until being taken from the court in a wheelchair due to a major ankle injury.

Zverev is being offered at +650 by BetRivers to win the men's title -- the fourth-shortest odds in the draw and well ahead of Nadal, who is seventh at +1600.

The pre-tournament favorite is Nadal's countryman, Carlos Alcaraz, at +240. Next is 24-time Grand Slam and defending French Open champion Novak Djokovic at +325.

Behind them is Jannik Sinner (+500), the Italian who claimed his first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January. However, Sinner has been recovering from a hip injury that knocked him out of his home country's Internazionali BNL d'Italia earlier this month.

The overall pool of players considered legitimate threats is relatively small. After Stefanos Tsitsipas (+700) and Casper Ruud (+1000), only Andrey Rublev (+2000) has shorter than +3000 odds.

Whoever survives the Nadal-Zverev opener faces a potential quarterfinal clash against Medvedev, the fifth seed from Russia. Djokovic, the 37-year-old Serbian, is the top seed and matched up against France's Pierre-Hugues Herbert; he could have a potential quarterfinal matchup with Ruud, the No. 7 seed.

Djokovic was defeated by Alejandro Tabilo of Chile at the Italian Open two days after being hit in the head by a fan's metal water bottle.

The third-seeded Alcaraz has been fighting a forearm injury but deemed himself ready for the French Open. Alcaraz, 21, did not play in the Italian Open after he lost in the Madrid quarterfinals and withdrew from the Barcelona Open.

"I was dealing with the pain, and how to focus my practices regarding the injury," he said Wednesday. "Playing the Mutua Madrid Open not at my 100 percent was difficult as well but I'm really happy that I had the chance to play. Missing Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, tournaments that are really beautiful for me, was tough but things are going very, very good lately and that's all that matters. I think I'll be at my 100 percent."

--Field Level Media