French Open Women's Betting: Halep to cover the handicap in Ostapenko final

The final of the women’s singles at the 2017 French Open is set for Saturday in Paris, with top seed Simona Halep facing the unseeded Jelena Ostapenko.

It’s been a profitable fortnight in Paris (15 points up overall) and we have one outright wager still going and that’s Stan Wawrinka, who made the men’s singles final on Friday, despite his best efforts to make it much more difficult than it should have been.

The Swiss should have won all five sets that he ended up playing against Andy Murray, having served for set one (and had the first set point in the ensuing tie break), won set two, led 3-0 and 4-2 in set three and won sets four and five.

We didn’t get any reward for taking a chance on Dominic Thiem, whose high risk game was always going to produce either a stunning win or a rapid defeat and it was the latter, which would have pleased those on the under minutes.

At around 14:00 UK time on Saturday the women’s final takes place and conditions are set to be perfect, with 25C temperatures, sunshine, and zero chance of rain – if you believe the forecast.

Simona Halep vs Jelena Ostapenko

By rights Halep shouldn’t be here at all had Elina Svitolina not failed to put the Romanian out from a set and 5-1 ahead in the quarter finals, but she’s made the most of that unexpected opportunity.

We’ve witnessed Halep be outhit by Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova so far this tournament and there will surely be spells of this championship match where she’ll find her defences breached again.

Ostapenko only knows one way to play and that’s to whack the cover off the ball at every opportunity and while you’d expect Halep to soak a lot of it up and make the Latvian play one ball too many in a lot of the rallies it could be a tricky afternoon for Halep.

This is a first meeting between the pair and what a stage for it to come on, in a major final, with Ostapenko the first unseeded woman to reach the final in Paris since Mima Jausovec back in 1983.

Jausovec (a winner of the French Open in 1977 as a 20-year-old) was easily beaten by Chris Evert that year and the record of unseeded women’s major finalists in the Open Era isn’t good.

Nine of the 12 up to now have lost, with Kim Clijsters at the 2009 US Open and Serena Williams (2007 Australian Open) the only unseeded players to have won a major since Chris O’Neil did it in Melbourne in 1978.

Clijsters and Williams don’t really count, as both were elite players coming back from spells away from the court as the only reason they weren’t seeded, so an Ostapenko win here would be a rare feat indeed.

On the service hold/break stats for the last 12 months on clay at main level it looks very much like Halep’s title to lose, with the Romanian 15% better on those numbers.

Halep weighs in with a 126.3 total (73.6% holds/52.7% breaks), compared to the 110.7 of Ostapenko and I don’t think it’s too controversial to suggest that this one should go the way of the much more experienced Halep.

Ostapenko can hit a mean ball off both wings, but her defence leaves a fair bit to be desired, with all-out attack her preferred method of play, yet on Saturday she faces probably the best defender and speediest player on the WTA Tour.

Svitolina showed though that the aggressive approach can reap its reward against Halep, but it’s a tall order to expect Ostapenko to produce the level that Svitolina played at for pretty much all of the opening two sets against the Romanian.

There is still a bit of a doubt over Halep’s bottle and if Ostapenko can get off to a good start and open the match hitting a few lines and scorching some winners it’ll be interesting to see how Halep reacts.

I doubt that the Latvian will be allowed enough short balls to attack to make many of her sizzling winners and if Halep keeps a good length she could draw a lot of errors from Ostapenko.

Only two of the last 15 women’s French Open finals have gone past two sets and it doesn’t appear that Halep is going to produce another of her Grand Slam chokes, so for me the -4.5 games on Halep looks the wager.

With Ostapenko holding serve only 64% of the time and Halep breaking 52.7% of the time the Romanian looks likely to cover the handicap.

Best Bet
2 points win Halep -4.5 games at 1.90