Serena primed to achieve a second triumph at Roland Garros
Serena Williams is a 5/2 favourite for the title she’s won just once before, back in 2002 – her sole appearance in the French Open final.
The American was in-form and highly fancied before losing to an opponent ranked 111th in the world in the first round last year – her first ever defeat at that stage in a Grand Slam.
But while her punishing serve and groundstrokes are at their most answerable in the Tour’s slowest conditions, she has already won on clay this year, at the Charleston Open. In addition, she has since been reinstated as the world number one after rediscovering that merciless on-court belligerence.
Defending champion Maria Sharapova would be shorter than 7/2 were it not for Williams’ form, after a processional march to the title in 2012. But Serena is the question mark forever hanging over Sharapova’s credentials.
The Russian’s victory last year saw a series of indomitable displays. Only once was she taken to three sets, and she conceded more than three games in just two sets in the entire tournament; yet her fortunes still appear inextricably linked to Williams’.
Sharapova has won just two of their 14 career meetings, dropping the last 11 encounters – as well as both meetings on clay. Should they meet on the second Sunday this time around the Russian would find few backers: she is 0-5 against the American in finals.
Victoria Azarenka has never gone beyond the quarters in seven attempts in Paris, and despite form that has seen her lose solely via walkover in 2013, at 4/1 is surely under-priced; just one of her 16 WTA Tour titles coming on clay.
Punters looking for an each-way chance should take note of world number seven Sara Errani, the Italian clay-court specialist who went 29-4 on the surface in 2012 before losing to Sharapova at the denouement in Paris.
Should either of the two market leaders slip up, 25/1 shot Errani has the pedigree to capitalise. Six of her seven WTA titles have come on clay, four of which preceded her run to 2012’s French Open final, and she successfully defended her Mexican Open title on the surface in February.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing