Gulbis has the game to be a threat to Nadal at French Open

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The build up to the French Open, especially in the men’s draw, has largely revolved around the number of players battling injury and illness.

Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro have both ruled themselves out, while the likes of Mardy Fish and Thomaz Bellucci won’t be featuring and doubts remain over Stanislas Wawrinka and Bernard Tomic.

David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych potentially have the most to gain from the list of absentees and they arguably will never have a better opportunity to reach the final, or possibly even triumph at Roland Garros.

Meanwhile, there are a few players even further down the rankings who can step in and take advantage.

John Isner and Kei Nishikori are two players to show that they have the capabilities of being forces on clay. Isner famously took Rafael Nadal to five sets at the French Open in 2011, while Nishikori recently beat Roger Federer at the Madrid Masters.

Nishikori is 250/1 and Isner 500/1 to win the French Open with Ladbrokes and there are plenty worse outsiders for punters to get stuck into than this pair, who could easily still be involved during week two in Paris.

However, the most attention-worthy of the non-favourites could prove to be Ernests Gulbis, who if nothing else looks to have one of the best chances of threatening Nadal in a one-off game.

Gulbis has faced Nadal six times in his career and although he has lost them all, the Latvian has taken at least one set on five occasions.

This includes both meetings with Nadal on clay, most notably at the recent Rome Masters when pushing the Spaniard all of the way in 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 reverse.

Gulbis has a big serve that can often get him out of trouble, while his powerful ground strokes can also be deadly on the slower nature of clay.

But, his biggest asset is his size, as being tall allows him to get on top of Nadal’s high bouncing spinners, which often prove the downfall of other players.

Gulbis is 80/1 to win the French Open and if nothing else he has more chance than most in a straight head-to-head with Nadal.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publication

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.