French Open 2023 Tips: Rune and Rublev set for deep run in men’s singles

Andy Schooler

23 May 2023

With 14-time champion Rafael Nadal absent from this year’s French Open due to a prolonged muscle injury, someone else has a rare opportunity to win the coveted Grand Slam.

Usually the default fall-back option would be Novak Djokovic, who hasn’t lost before the quarter-finals in Paris since 2009. But the recently-deposed world number one has been struggling on clay in recent weeks and suffered defeats to Lorenzo Musetti, Dusan Lajovic and Holger Rune. He also pulled out of Madrid, a sign that his long-standing elbow problem is a concern.

While one of the all-time greats is capable of turning things around over the course of a 15-day tournament, whose best-of-five-sets format will suit the experienced campaigner, Djokovic simply doesn’t look to be playing well enough right now and I will be laying him at 3.6.

The market makes Carlos Alcaraz the man to beat, which seems like an accurate assessment. After all, the Spaniard won titles in Barcelona and Madrid in the build-up to Roland Garros and is back on top of the rankings.

Rafael Nadal: has chosen to miss this year's French Open due to a prolonged muscle injury

However, he only had to beat one top-10 player in those two tournaments and, when he arrived in Rome, he was stunned by world number 135, Fabian Marozsan. Anyone can have a bad day at the office but it’s worth remembering that it also occurred in last year’s French Open quarter-final against Alex Zverev, who scored the upset.

That was Alcaraz’s only previous Roland Garros appearance, so some question marks still remain about him being able to deliver on this highest of clay court stages. That’s enough to put me off backing him at 2.74.

The other thing to note at this point is that Alcaraz and Djokovic - the two market leaders - could be drawn in the same half on Thursday. That means there could be some significant market swings when the draw takes place – and one half could really offer a good opportunity to someone further down the list. So, who?

Holger Rune has played some excellent tennis in recent weeks and he made the Masters finals in both Monte Carlo and Rome, as well as winning the title in Munich.

Daniil Medvedev, Jannik Sinner and the aforementioned Djokovic have been among his victims and the youngster, who is prepared to go toe-to-toe with anyone from the baseline, looks ready to take that big step and become a serious Grand Slam contender. He’s worth backing at 10.

Of those in mid-market, Andrey Rublev makes appeal. He beat Rune in the Monte Carlo final and, while he disappointed in Madrid and Rome, his underlying data remains strong.

He’s held serve 84% of the time during the current European clay season and won 33% of return games. That total figure of 117 is bettered only by Alcaraz and Sinner. Back Rublev at 48.

Finally, those of you who are seeking a monster price could do far worse than backing Francisco Cerundolo

A proper clay court specialist, his service holds/breaks total on Euro clay in 2023 is 112, which is the same as Rune’s mark. He’s beaten Sinner, Casper Ruud and Cam Norrie during that run, so has proven his ability against quality opponents. Given a bit of luck with the draw, Cerundolo could be a good back-to-lay option at the very worst at huge odds of 180.

French Open Men’s Singles Predictions

Lay Novak Djokovic @ 3.6
Back Holger Rune @ 10
Back Andrey Rublev @ 48
Back Francisco Cerundolo @ 180

Andy Schooler

23 May 2023

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