French Open Betting: Take a chance on Thiem to upset Nadal


The men’s singles semi finals at the French Open 2017 are set for Friday in Paris, with our outright pick Stan Wawrinka a step away from another major final.

But it’s not that easy to be confident on Wawrinka when semi final losses this season for my outrights have been coming thick and fast, with Timea Bacsinszky adding to the number on Thursday.

Bacsinszky became the seventh of my outrights so far in 2017 to have fallen at the last four stage and it proved to be a good strategy to have those five points on Jelena Ostapenko as cover.

Wawrinka could make it eight on Friday, but he certainly has a very decent shot of stopping the rot on a day where we’re expecting a cool, cloudy day, with the chance of some rain early on.

Andy Murray vs Stanislas Wawrinka

At the peculiar starting time of 11:45 UK time we’ll have a repeat of last year’s French Open semi final as Murray and Wawrinka clash for the 18th time and the fifth on clay.

Murray was in superb form on the clay 12 months ago in the build-up to Paris, winning Rome and making the final in Madrid and semi final in Monte-Carlo, so his confidence was high ahead of his semi with Wawrinka.

That’s not the case this time around and I’m happy to let my outright bet on Wawrinka ride here, with the Swiss in great form right now and Murray not playing as well this year as he was in 2016.

Stan has won three of their four meetings on clay and it’s the Swiss that has the better hold/break stats on clay over the past 12 months (112.1 to 107.8), so there are plenty of reasons to be bullish about Stan’s chances here.

Their clay meetings were mainly a long time ago though and with Wawrinka trends don’t mean that much, with perhaps one exception and that’s that against Murray he doesn’t play many tie breaks.

Only one of the last 25 sets they’ve contested has gone to a breaker (on clay, grass, indoor hard and outdoor hard) and no tie breaks at 2.45 is perhaps the most tempting wager in this pick ‘em match.

With Nadal and Thiem still in the tournament there’s little point in trying to cover the outright wager on Wawrinka unless he makes the final, so no breakers is the only bet I’d consider value in this one.

Rafael Nadal vs Dominic Thiem

With Murray versus Stan being a tough call it’s this (not before) 14:30 UK time clash between Nadal and Thiem that’s of interest to me and I should imagine to many neutrals too.

And I think we have to side with the man in form at least to some degree and that’s Thiem, with the Austrian having gone the next step in his career in the last round and that was to beat an elite player at a major.

It wasn’t exactly a vintage Novak Djokovic that Thiem defeated in the last eight, but that won’t bother Thiem, and he’s looking for a quick fire double against Nadal today, having beaten the Spaniard in Rome a few weeks ago.

And it’s tricky to gauge Rafa’s French Open form against the elite, as he hasn’t played a top-16 seed yet in the tournament, and while his progress looks impressive on paper he’s really hasn’t been challenged.

I’m sure Rafa would have liked some more competitive tennis ahead of this seventh career clash with Thiem, having lost twice to the Austrian in their last five meetings.

That Rome meeting saw Thiem come into the match with a very aggressive attitude and it worked out well for him, but it’s questionable as to whether that approach is possible to deploy over five sets against Nadal.

If it is then Thiem stands a fine chance, but plenty have tried and only Robin Soderling has succeeded in blasting Rafa off the court here at the French Open.

The Swede managed it in four sets back in 2009 with Rafa a 1.03 chance that day and the only other time he’s lost here was against Djokovic in the 2015 quarter finals, but at 31 years old can the King of Clay combat what Thiem will throw at him?

It looks like the sands of time have caught up a bit with Djokovic and I’m not so sure that isn’t the case with Nadal too – I certainly wouldn’t be as sure as to back him at 1.21 to win this match – and not in cool, damp conditions.

Stats-wise Nadal comes into this match with a stellar set of hold/break stats on clay over the last 12 months, with 87.2% holds/44.9% breaks for a 132.1 total, but he hasn’t played a Murray, Federer or a Wawrinka in that timeframe.

He’s beaten what’s been put in front of him and beaten them well, with the exception of Thiem, and we’ll see on Friday whether this Nadal comeback is the real deal or a bit of a myth built on former glories.

The Austrian will need to take a lot of risks and if it’s a day where they go in he has a great chance, but if not then he could be out of there pretty quickly. He certainly has the tools to do it, leading the tournament in terms of serve speed ahead of Raonic, Kyrgios and Isner, and hitting his ground strokes with more power than in previous seasons.

The way that Thiem will play suggests a quick match and under 186.5 minutes looks likely at 1.89, but if we’re going to go against Nadal at the French Open I want a good price.

I may be wrong, but I feel a changing of the guard is imminent and after Alexander Zverev’s title in Rome and Thiem’s win over Rafa at the same venue a Thiem victory here wouldn’t be that much of a shocking result.

He’s going to have to go no guts no glory here and so am I, with the -1.5 sets on Thiem at 7.50 my wager of choice. I can’t see Thiem winning a five set grind against Nadal on this court, so for 1.5 points it’s worth taking a chance on the upset.

Best Bet
1.5 points win Thiem -1.5 sets to beat Nadal at 7.50