Heading into this season, Serena Williams had won five successive tournaments on clay, dating back to her surprise first-round defeat at the 2012 French Open to Virginie Razzano.
However, this aura of invincibility was lowered in Williams’ first match on clay in the current season, where she was beaten in straight sets by current world number 50 Jana Cepelova, ending a 28-match win streak on the surface.
The world number one also needed her left thigh taped during the defeat and this injury clearly hadn’t passed at the recent Madrid Masters, where she was forced to withdraw ahead of her quarter final Petra Kvitova.
There are now doubts about her participation at the French Open and it would be foolish to bet on Williams at 13/8 to secure the Paris Grand Slam for a third time in her career.
What it also means is that there is arguably greater value attached to others in the French Open odds, who will shorten in the market should Williams fail to take part or get knocked out in an early round.
Maria Sharapova is the obvious candidate as the 5/1 second favourite, especially after her victories on the clay of Stuttgart and Madrid already this season.
Furthermore, since January 2013, Williams is the only current top 10-ranked player to have beaten Sharapova.
But for punters seeking some extra value, they should look no further than Svetlana Kuznetsova, who looks slightly overpriced at 50/1.
Having taken the Roland Garros title in 2009, Kuznetsova has experience of what it takes to win this Grand Slam and she was the only player to take a set off Williams here last year when the American steam-rollered her way to victory through dropping only 19 games in her other six victories.
Her recent form has also been encouraging, with a quarter-final and a final on clay (her first in three years), before losing in round two of the Madrid Masters to world number three Agnieszka Radwanska, despite holding three match points in the deciding set.
Kuznetsova has the power to trouble anyone on the circuit and a useful serve, but she can be inconsistent. But, this does seem to have been factored into her win price, which could prove extremely profitable.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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