2021 WTA French Open Futures Betting Preview: Sabalenka, Svitolina Lead Options at Roland Garros
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images. Pictured: Aryna Sabalenka.
As we start to approach a sense of normalcy in our daily lives, the same can be said for the tennis world after a crazy 2020 season that saw the cancellation of Wimbledon and the French Open played in early October without some of the biggest names on Tour.
However, we aren’t quite there yet as the start of this year’s French Open was pushed back a week. And while most of the main characters will participate in this year’s draw, many of the top players arrive in Paris having played anything but a normal schedule leading up to the year’s second major. There are plenty of questions in regards to form and fitness with many of the seeds.
So, where does the betting value lie? I’ll get to my thoughts on that topic in a bit, but let’s first take a high-level look at the field, starting with my wagering cheat sheet for the 32 seeded players.
Former French Open Winners
In 2021 Draw
- Iga Swiatek (2020)
- Ashleigh Barty (2019)
- Simona Halep (2018)
- Jelena Ostapenko (2017)
- Garbiñe Muguruza (2016)
- Serena Williams (2015, 2013, 2002)
- Svetlana Kuznetsova (2009)
Recent French Open Semifinalists
- Simona Halep* (2)
- Garbine Muguruza (2)
- Iga Swiatek
- Nadia Podoroska
- Sofia Kenin
- Petra Kvitova
- Ashleigh Barty
- Amanda Anisimova
- Johanna Konta
- Marketa Vondrousova
- Sloane Stephens
- Madison Keys
- Jelena Ostapenko
- Karolina Pliskova
- Timea Bacsinszky
- Serena Williams
- Kiki Bertens
- Samantha Stosur
*not in field due to injury
2021 Clay Court Titles
- Veronika Kudermetova (Charleston)
- Maria Osorio Serrano (Bogota)
- Astra Sharma (Charleston II)
- Ashleigh Barty (Stuttgart)
- Sorana Cirstea (Istanbul)
- Aryna Sabalenka (Madrid)
- Iga Swiatek (Rome)
- Paula Badosa (Belgrade)
- Coco Gauff (Parma)
- TBD (Strasbourg)
French Open Futures Lounge
The past five French Open champions on the women’s side all represented their first-ever Grand Slam title on Tour. Will we make it six in a row this year with a first-time major winner?
As I mentioned above, I have serious questions about some of the household names due to either form (see Serena Williams, who has dropped two of the only three matches she played in since the Australian Open) or fitness (see Garbine Muguruza, who is battling a leg injury that forced her to withdraw from Madrid). Interestingly enough, with Halep out due to a calf injury, Muguruza is the only woman in the field to make two semifinals at Roland Garros over the past five years.
Two other former Grand Slam champions and two of the best overall players on Tour, Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu, always warrant consideration at a Slam. However, I haven’t seen enough from either on the dirt to back them at their respective price.
A Cut Above
This isn’t always the case, but I completely agree with the pricing at the top of the futures board. Based on current form and ability on this surface, the three favorites are simply a step above the rest of the field in Iga Swiatek, Ash Barty and Aryna Sabalenka. All three have won a clay tournament leading up to the French Open, and the former pair have won each of the past two titles here in Paris.
It wouldn’t shock me in the least to see all three in the semifinals, but I just don’t see any value in either Barty or Swiatek at respective prices of 5-1 and 3-1, especially since both are in the same half of the draw. It’s actually Sabalenka that intrigues me the most of that trio at a price of 10-1 (I wouldn’t go below 8-1) which you can find out there.
The Belarusian, who made the final in two of her three pre-French Open clay tournaments, has a very favorable draw on the other half of the two co-favorites. Coming into 2021, I didn’t fully trust her sometimes-erratic game on clay, but I have changed my tune based on her play in recent months. Winning the final in Madrid against a streaking Barty convinced me she can play consistently enough on this surface to take down this tourney. That victory also likely gave her a massive confidence boost on the red clay. I think it may be her time to break through and secure her first Grand Slam title.
Throw a Dart or Two
While Sabalenka will serve as my primary horse in the field, I did find two other longer shots. Don’t be afraid to take a few chances in the futures market on the women’s side; four of the previous nine WTA Grand Slam winners have closed at a price of 30-1 or higher. Also, three of the past eight French Open finalists have been unseeded.
I was hoping we would get better prices on either Paula Badosa and/or Cori Gauff, but the market is keen to both in-form players. I reluctantly have to pass on both 2021 clay court title holders, especially given their draws.
In fact, I’m avoiding the Swiatek quarter entirely, but I am going to take a shot on Elina Svitolina despite the fact that she’d face Ash Barty in the quarters. The Ukrainian has underperformed in Majors throughout her career, but she has advanced to the quarters in four of her past seven Grand Slam appearances. She has the clay game to make a deep run and may benefit from much less pressure than usual.
I could’ve also made a compelling case for Karolina Muchova, who beat Barty earlier this year at the Australian Open, but I ultimately just show a tad more value price-wise on Svitolina based on my ratings and projections. And for what it’s worth, Svitolina owns a 7-3 head-to-head record against Muchova and Barty. She also came within a second-set tiebreaker of beating Barty earlier this year on the clay at Stuttgart in an eventual three-set loss.
That leaves the final quarter which is void of any of the three favorites. The top two seeds in the fourth quarter are the uber-talented Osaka and Andreescu, but I don’t mind taking either of them on at Roland Garros — where neither have ever advanced past the third round. I think this is the quarter where you can throw a dart. Veronika Kudermetova is definitely worth considering, but I ended up going with Daria Kasatkina. I’m probably burning money, but I pretty much invest in the Russian every French Open with the exception of last year when she was completely lost.
I’m convinced she has the game and talent to make many future French Open runs, and I can’t pass up this juicy price combined with a very favorable early draw. I haven’t loved what I’ve seen this clay swing, and her shaky serve will likely let her down, but she has presumably improved some mental aspects of her game that were also holding her back. I can admit there may be a bit of personal stinginess in my clay ratings for Kasatkina, but it’s a super small investment. I would not go below 70-1.
French Open Futures Betting Recap
Here is a summary of the three futures I placed for a total outlay of one unit.
- Aryna Sabalenka 10-1 (0.6 units)
- Elina Svitolina 25-1 (0.3 units)
- Daria Kasatkina 78-1 (0.1 units)
I’m hoping the trend continues for a sixth-straight year at the French Open where we see the champion win their first-ever Grand Slam. Lastly, as always, make sure you shop around. You can find drastically different futures prices on certain players depending on the book, which is why it’s paramount to have multiple outs. Good luck and let’s cash one!