Stuckey: How to Read Serena Williams’ French Open Odds and Recent Injury Woes

May 26, 2019 12:30 AM EDT
Credit:

Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Serena Williams

  • The 2019 French Open begins on Sunday, May 26 at Roland Garros in Paris, France.
  • Serena Williams is 12-1 to win the tournament, meaning she is tied for fourth-favorite at Roland Garros.
  • Stuckey analyzes Serena's form, discusses her injury concerns and debates on whether you should fade or back Serena in Paris.

As Serena Williams seeks her 24th Grand Slam at the 2019 French Open, there are major questions about her fitness — specifically her knee. That’s not a good sign on the dirt. If you recall, Serena also had to withdraw ahead of her fourth round match at the French Open last year.

Let’s take a closer look at Serena’s current form and history at Roland Garros to determine if there is any value in fading her early on in this tournament. I will also evaluate her current French Open futures odds of 12-1.

Serena Williams French Open Injury Analysis

Serena has pulled out of or retired mid-match in each of the past three tourneys she has entered with injury concerns. As a result, she has only completed one clay match this season.

That isn’t a good sign, especially since she’s had the least amount of success at the French Open — relative to the other three majors.

Serena has only won three French Opens in 16 tries or 18.75% of the ones she has entered. If you look at the three other majors combined, she has won at least six of each and 20 of 54 overall. That’s a touch over an astounding 37% clip.

If you focus on match win rates alone, the story stays the same:

Serena has won 80.47% of all career matches on clay. In comparison, she has won over 85% on hard courts and just under 89% on grass. She has still dominated overall on clay as the greatest ever. However, it’s clearly her worst surface — and the toughest to win on with fitness issues.

Early Round Fade Value?

Historically, fading Serena Williams in the first two rounds of a Grand Slam has been a death sentence. Since losing to her sister Venus in the second round of her first ever Grand Slam at the 1998 Australian Open, Serena has played in 69 Grand Slams. Of those 69 tournaments, she’s only lost in the first or second round TWICE!

Although, both of those losses did come at the French Open — each within a three-year span between 2012-14.

 

Two of her only three defeats in the first two rounds came against women with multiple Grand Slams. Amazing.

Serena did have injury concerns ahead of that epic match against Virgie Razanno in 2012 if you’re looking for a parallel to this year. She’s currently listed as a -900 favorite in her first-round match against Vitalia Diatchenko, whom Serena routed 6-0, 2-0 in the first-round at the 2015 US Open before the Russian retired in their only prior meeting.

That experience should help Diatchenko the second-time facing Serena — especially not in New York. While she shouldn’t be as intimidated, clay is not her best surface. If you still want to take a shot, just know that you’re going against Serena’s 69-1 record in first-round matches at majors.

The second-round draw looks fairly routine as well. Serena will either face a qualifier or Dalila Jakupovic, who comes in off form and does not thrive on the clay.

Things will get a lot trickier from there.

French Open Futures Value?

Serena’s section of the quarter is manageable although the top half is littered with former grand slam finalists and champions. Regardless, it comes down to Serena’s form. When she’s peaking and fully fit, she’s still the best in the world. But she’s neither right now and will be playing on her worst surface.

Would I be shocked to see Serena take home the trophy? Obviously not. She’s a 23-time slam champion that hasn’t lost a match before the quarterfinals in any of the 14 majors she has participated in since the summer of 2014. Oh, and she made the final in 10 of those 14, winning six.

Having said that,  I just don’t see any futures betting value at anything under 15-1 with all of the questions marks surrounding Serena in Roland Garros this year.

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