Williams exit opens door for Na Li to defend French Open title

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Serena Williams’ shock defeat in the first round of the French Open has thrown the women’s draw at Roland Garros wide open and it is Na Li and Caroline Wozniacki that perhaps have the most to gain.

Williams was favourite in the French Open odds before her first career exit in the opening round of a Grand Slam in defeat to home player Virginie Razzano, with Maria Sharapova the new market leader at 9/4.

However, Na Li looks the better bet at 6/1, especially as she had lost five of her seven career meetings with Williams, with one of her successes being via a walkover.

Na Li has reached the quarter finals in all of her clay-court events this season and was beaten in a final-set tie-break by Sharapova in her last preparation ahead of Roland Garros in Rome.

The fact that Na Li beat Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka, Sharapova and then Francesca Schiavone to land the French Open last year shows that she can cope with a run of challenging games.

Williams was in Na Li’s half of the draw, but the Chinese star does still have Schiavone and Kvitova in her quarter.

The big beneficiary of Williams’ exit is former world number one Wozniacki, who now should have an easier fourth-round game if reaching this stage.

Wozniacki will still have to beat the seeded Julia Goerges or Kaia Kanepi en route to the quarter finals, but her passage does seem easier than many of the other fancied players in the women’s draw.

She would probably meet Sharapova in the quarter finals, but 20/1 could prove a big price in the French Open odds that she wins a maiden Grand Slam.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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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.