On the men’s side, all contenders are chasing after the quality and unprecedented consistency of Rafael Nadal. The women’s draw is pretty much open again. The 2019 French Open begins on Sunday, and we take a look at the targets and value options from day one.
Roger Federer ($10,100)Plausibly his last grand slam on clay, Federer comes into this year’s French Open without the weight of expectation. The gulf between the top two seeds – Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal – and Federer (ranked No. 3 this year) is too wide on clay. That means Federer should come out determined to take this tournament as deep into the second week as possible.
David Goffin ($10,200)David Goffin’s opponent Ricardas Berankis ($4,200) has a few factors going for him: he won the Challenger in Busan in the run-up to the French Open and also beat Goffin in Doha earlier this year. But Goffin is just that much better in form, consistency and quality. Goffin beat Stanislas Wawrinka in the Rome Masters, before falling to Juan Martin del Potro.
Karolina Pliskova ($10,400)A week ago, Karolina Pliskova ended her run into the French Open in perfect fashion, beating Johanna Konta in straight sets to win the Rome Masters. From a personal perspective, that title would have been crucial, just to improve confidence and clear the lingering doubt considering she hasn’t set the WTA circuit alight over the past year. Does a French Open beckon?
Kristina Mladenovic ($9,800)Spurred by a raucous home crowd, there is something about the stage of the French Open that brings the best out of Mladenovic. She faces compatriot Fiona Ferro ($5,500) in the first round with form to back her up: Mladenovic has won eight of her last nine matches, including five wins in Rome.
Men’s value options
Jiri Vesely ($7,200)For value picks in a grand slam, a player’s preferred surface is a crucial starting point. Vesely has plied his trade on clay for years. Leonardo Mayer ($7,600), Vesely’s first-round opponent, is ranked significantly higher (68), but he has lost four of his previous five matches. In a tight matchup between two clay-court specialists, Vesely might just be more consistent than Mayer.
Others to consider: Robin Haase ($5,200), Albert Ramos-Vinolas (7,000)
Women’s value options
Elina Svitolina ($8,200)Barring recent form (four straight losses dating back to mid-March), Elina Svitolina has the edge in almost all other matchups, even though the experience of Venus Williams ($6,200) awaits her. Svitolina has quickly risen up the WTA ranks, and she has remained around the top 10 for a while now. It’s time for a strong run in a grand slam.
Others to consider: Kateryna Kozlova ($6,600), Aliaksandra Sasnovich ($6,800)
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Nikhil Kalro is the Founder and CEO of Altletics Esports.