Roger Federer will return to the clay courts of Europe after nearly three years away from them, when he competes at the Madrid Open in May. The Swiss Maestro has been in excellent form recently, registering his 101st ATP Tour title with a comfortable straight-sets win over John Isner in the final of the Miami Open in March. That success followed quickly in the steps of his 100th ATP title, which he claimed a few weeks earlier in Dubai. He also made the final at Indian Wells in between those two successes, but lost to Dominic Thiem.
Federer is now closing in on Jimmy Connors’s record of 109 ATP Tour titles, and his recent form has boosted his chances of a successful and long-awaited return to clay tournaments, starting at the Mutua Madrid Open, which takes place 3-12 May.
Federer was in dominant form in the final, completely nullifying the American’s big serve in the first set. He was able to return Isner’s serve with relative ease, before reeling off 21 successive points on his own serve to win the first set 6-1.
The second set was much closer, going on serve until the very end, when Federer finally broke Isner again in the tenth game to take the set 6-4 and win the title.
Beaten finalist at Indian Wells
Before claiming the title in Miami, and following his success in Dubai where he gained revenge against Stefanos Tsitsipas by beating him in the final after the Greek had knocked him out of the Australian Open, Federer went in search of another title at Indian Wells.
He cruised through to the semi-finals without losing a set, beating Peter Gojowczyk (6-1, 7-5), Stan Wawrinka (6-3, 6-4), Kyle Edmund (6-1, 6-4), and Hubert Hurkacz (6-4, 6-4). He was then due to renew his rivalry with old adversary, Rafael Nadal. Unfortunately, the Spaniard was unable to play, allowing Federer to progress to another final to face Austria’s, Dominic Thiem.
Is success at Indian Wells and Miami important for the rest of his season?
It was the start of 2017 that saw Federer enjoy a recent resurgence in the game. After beating Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open, he went on to win the ‘sunshine double’ by claiming both titles at Indian Wells and Miami.
He then went on to win his eighth Wimbledon title without dropping a single set, establishing himself as the greatest grass-court player of all time.
However, in 2018, Federer lost the Indian Wells final to Juan Martin del Potro, despite having three match points to win it, then lost early on in Miami to Thanasi Kokkinakis. He would go on to lose at Wimbledon in the quarter-finals to Kevin Anderson, and in the fourth round at the US Open to John Millman.
Despite enjoying mixed fortunes at Indian Wells and Miami this year, he has ended the first part of the season in great form, replacing his Indian Wells conqueror, Dominic Thiem, as the World Number 4.
However, there is something different about Federer’s schedule this year which makes it difficult to predict how his performances at Indian Wells and Miami might influence the rest of the season. Unlike in 2017 and 2018, Federer will not skip the clay-court season this year and will compete in the red dirt events of Europe, starting in Madrid before finishing at the French Open at Roland Garros towards the end of May.
Federer makes his return to the clay-court season
Federer had chosen to skip the clay court season for the last two years to try to enhance his chances of doing well during the rest of the season, particularly at Wimbledon. His strategy worked out brilliantly.
He won Wimbledon in 2017 and arguably played the best grass-court tennis that the All England Lawn Tennis Club had witnessed for a decade. Although he was unable to defend his title in 2018, he still looked strong and the favourite to do so, but was beaten in the quarter-finals by an inspired Kevin Anderson on the day.
So why has he decided to return to clay this year? By not playing on clay for the last two years, the most unforgiving of surfaces, he has benefitted from it. However, his performances at Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami proved that he is currently playing somewhere near his best, unlike his old rivals, Nadal and Djokovic.
He will obviously hope to take that form into the European clay court season, which begins at Monte Carlo in April, a tournament Federer has chosen to miss.
There has been speculation that the return to clay is part of a ‘farewell tour’, although Federer continues to deny that he is anywhere near retirement. He has won every clay tournament in Europe, except for Monte Carlo, which Rafael Nadal has dominated for years. So why not have a go at them while you are back in form.
Is Federer eyeing French Open glory again?
The probable truth is that Federer genuinely believes he has a chance of winning the French Open title again, a decade on from his sole triumph at Roland Garros, when he completed his own career Grand Slam.
Rafael Nadal is the current hot favourite to win the French Open at odds of 10/11 with most leading bookmakers, like William Hill. Novak Djokovic is the second favourite at 7/4, with Dominic Thiem 10/1 and Alexander Zverev 12/1 the next best.
Federer enters the equations as the fifth-favourite, at odds of 33/1 with some bookies (Bet-at-Home). Incredible odds for arguably the best tennis player of all time.
The reason for such long odds will be his absence from the clay-courts, but Federer has also not competed at the French Open for four years. It was 2016 that he began his non-attendance at the tournament, withdrawing through injury, which also ended his incredible record of appearing at 65 consecutive Grand Slams, since missing the US Open in 1999.
In 2015 the signs were there that he was increasingly finding it harder, both tactically and physically, to play on the clay. His fellow countryman, Stan Wawrinka, defeated him in straight sets in the French Open quarter-finals, on the way to his own remarkable achievement when beating Novak Djokovic in the final.
Federer is an excellent clay-court player
Federer has always been an excellent clay-court player; winning every tournament but for Monte Carlo. He has just had the misfortune of playing at a time when the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal, has played. Nadal has won 11 titles from his 15 appearance at Roland Garros, so is rightly a huge favorite this year.
It has genuinely been said by the French tennis media and fans, that at his best, Federer might be the second best clay-court player ever, after Nadal. The Madrid Open will see the Swiss Maestro arrive in excellent form, playing near his best tennis on hard courts.
He can carry that form into the clay-court season, which might be the last of his career. If he did go on to win the French Open again, at nearly 40 (see WilliamHill odds), it would be an incredible achievement. But one thing we have learnt over the years, is to never write-off Federer’s chances of doing the unbelievable.
April has arrived and that means we are just days away from the new clay court season. All eyes will be on Europe in the next month or so with major tournaments in Spain, Italy and of course the French Open.
This season sees the three most dominant players in men’s tennis all participating for the first time since 2015. That’s because Roger Federer isn’t having a rest this year and will be battling for yet more ATP Tour titles. It’s not all about the usual suspects though, there are some young and not-so-young pretenders out to claim big scalps in the coming weeks. Let’s look ahead to the 2019 Clay Court season, as we did for the previous season.
Federer is Back and Looking for Fun
Roger Federer on clay
Roger Federer turns 38 in August and that age he should be sitting in a commentary box not winning tennis tournaments. He’s ranked number four in the world but top of the ranking list for this year. This is his first clay court season since 2016 and says he’s “in a phase where I want to have fun,”
After an early exit in the Australian Open, he licked his wounds until the end of February. He’s won two titles (including his 100th) and lost in the final at Indian Wells after winning the first set. Anyone would think we’ve gone back in time, there was talk of him fighting off his young rivals and that was 12 years ago.
Back to the history books again. Federer’s only French Open title was in 2009 and at Bet365 he’s a huge 28/1 to win another French Open. He hasn’t won a clay tournament since 2012 though.
Federer will be a threat simply because he’s Federer, that’s what happens. Wins in the best of three sets tournaments may happen but he is more prone to the occasional off-day and surprise defeats are always possible, so bear that in mind.
Another Year of Nadal Domination?
Rafael Nadal holding Roland Garros trophy
When other players on the circuit look at the success that Rafael Nadal has had on clay, there are several emotions that come to hand. Admiration and envy are on the list but also fear as they wonder just how do we beat this guy?
It’s not just the fact the Spaniard has won the French Open 11 times and has never lost a final. He’s also had 11 victories in Monte Carlo, another 11 in Barcelona (wonder what his favorite number is?) and another eight in Rome. Nadal is the King of Clay, but all reigns must come to an end, sometime don’t they?
it’s usually injury that stops Nadal winning titles. His last tournament was at Indian Wells last month and he was set to take on Roger Federer but had to pull out after aggravating a right-knee injury. It’s not certain just how fit Nadal is at present but if you’re betting on him to win a tournament, his fitness must be considered.
Mind you, that’s something that could have been written six years ago and he hasn’t done too bad since then has he? You can get 10/11 on Nadal winning the French Open to make it a dozen wins.
Djokovic Struggling for Form
Novak Djokovic tops the world rankings at present and last won the French Open in 2016 (Nadal pulled out through injury that year). A win in Paris will mean he’d be holding all four Grand Slam titles. You can get 7/4 at Bet365 on Djokovic winning the French Open.
2019 started well for Novak with a win at the Australian Open but he didn’t get to the business end of either Indian Wells or Miami. He has the ability of course to have a good season but had some bad defeats to lower-ranked players last year when failing to reach a clay court final. Keep a close eye on him because if he returns to top form then titles could be on the way.
The Heir to the Throne?
The reign of Nadal, Djokovic and Federer must end sometime doesn’t it? The future of clay court tennis could well lie in the hands of Dominic Thiem. The last three years has seen Thiem reach two French Open semi-finals and the 2018 Final where he lost heavily to guess who, yep Mr Nadal. Currently he’s the third favourite at Bet365 and 10/1 is a good each-way bet.
The 25-year-old Austrian also reached the final of the Madrid Open last year and on the way, he beat Nadal. That’s his third victory on clay courts over the Spaniard but both have been over three sets. Thiem has also beaten Roger Federer (twice), Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev on this surface, so he’s going to be a big danger this year.
Kei Nishikori has had his share of injuries but, just like Novak Djokovic, made a successful return last year. He’s up to six in the rankings and has a good record on clay courts. Barcelona is a favorite of his having won the tournament there in both 2014 and 2015.
He’s in form too with the last three Grand Slams seeing him reach the last eight twice and one semi-final. Nishikori made it to the fourth round at last year’s French Open, where he’s got to the quarter-final twice in the last four years. He’s unlikely to win a tournament but if he’s in form in one of them, then he’s a player to back. 40/1 at Bet365 to win the French Open could be worth an each-way punt.
Zverev Looking for Grand Slam Success
Alexander Zverev is a real puzzle, isn’t he? He’s ranked third in the world, but his Grand Slam record is appalling. Last year he was seeded second at the French Open but lost in the last eight to Dominic Thiem winning just seven games.
That was a disappointing end to an otherwise successful 2018 campaign. He won in Madrid (beating Thiem in the final) and Munich, lost in three sets to Nadal in Rome and reached the semi-finals in Monte Carlo. There are plenty of winning bets on the way if you back him and surely that Grand Slam breakthrough is on its way. It’s 12/1 that he wins the French Open.
Khachanov on the Rise
Karen Khachanov has had some good performances in the last two French Open tournaments. He lost in five sets to Zverev last year and knocked out both John Isner and Thomas Berdych in 2017. After winning the Paris Masters last year, he could well spring some surprises in the coming weeks. If he does, then the 50/1 Bet365 have him to win the French Open could get you a good return, if backing him each-way.
Whatever happens, we’re set for an excellent few weeks of clay court tennis. Will the old brigade remain dominant or could new faces make big breakthroughs, only time will tell.
You might not know, but as we discussed in our previous article, Serie B has been a circus this year, as they had an incredibly complicated offseason which resulted into loads of poor decisions that lead to uncertainty throughout the whole season.
What’s the current Serie B situation?
Italian Serie B table – 29 March 2019
I won’t be boring you with too much words, but as usual (and you can noticed if by yourself from the table), Serie B is a close call no matter what. The table is divided in two, 9 teams are involved in the promotion battle (or playoffs) and 10 are fighting to avoid relegation (or playouts).
Predictions are difficult and picking the right bets are even more troubles.
This is why we normally bet less on Serie B, no matter it’s it outright, moneyline, spread or totals, Serie B is a difficult league to predict!
Outright Head to Head (our Serie B predictions)
This is what we are betting on today: outright head to head.
This is a particular outright bet where you have to predict which team finishes ahead of the other at the end of the regular season. It is a type of bet that we particularly love here at BetzCenter, and you can see some examples of our bets from the past here.
Serie B – Outright Head to Head 2018/219 (from snai.it)
These above are Snai’s odds for this particular market. I know it sounds old school these days, but the bookmaker chooses the matchups and the relative odds, so all we have to do is to pick the winner of each matchup.
This is what we think:
Ascoli – Cosenza: Cosenza @ 1.65
Cremonese – Venezia: Venezia @ 2.55
Crotone – Foggia: Crotone @ 1.72
Hellas Verona – Benevento: Hellas Verona @ 1.72
Lecce – Pescara: Lecce @ 1.60
Spezia – Perugia: Spezia @ 2.75
Total combined odds for these Serie B predictions are around 55.
While it will be difficult to catch them all, as they are all very balanced, we normally like to place the whole accumulator (with all the selections) plus one or two smaller multiples (2/3 selections each).
I want to underline one more time that Serie B is a very tough league to predict: surprises all around every corner, but we still give it a try.
This is it for this short article, if you want to check our Italian Serie A predictions instead, make sure you head over to our previous blog post.
I don’t really like the break for the national teams too much, but at least it gives me some time to check stuff that I would normally miss.
This is why the other day I found something very interesting on williamhill.it.
Did you notice something? These odds are sweet! And I do not mean that there is one in particular that is worth mentioning, but I mean it in general! The bookmaker margin is incredibly low. Let’s have a look!
According to Wikipedia: “In gambling parlance, making a book is the practice of laying bets on the various possible outcomes of a single event. The term originates from the practice of recording such wagers in a hard-bound ledger (the ‘book’) and gives the English language the term bookmaker for the person laying the bets and thus ‘making the book'”.
So let’s calculate the book percentage for this game:
I have picked Snai and Better for this comparison as right now they have the best (meaning lowest) bookmaker margin on this event, and still, williamhill.it is almost half of Snai’s and Better’s margin. Pretty impressive stuff!
BEST ODDS ON ITALIAN SERIE A MATCHES
I did not tell you yet, but what really triggered my curiosity was the above banner, which basically says: best odds on Serie A.
This is where I started from, I started doing these calculations because of this banner.
Being in the betting business for almost 20 years now, I did not think of William Hill as one of the bookmakers with the highest odds, so I asked myself: “For sure they can’t be lying on their banners, are they really offering the best odds on Serie A?”
Let’s have a look at this weekend’s round of matches:
Williamhill.it odds – round 29
If you calculate the bookmaker margin for each match, you will notice that they vary from 2.815% to 3.999%. And if you then compare these margins to williamhill’s competitors (in the Italian market), you will notice that williamhill’s are lower than the rest.
So, is William Hill really offering the best odds on Italian Serie A in the Italian market?
YES! Right now, William Hill is offering the best odds on Italian Serie A among .it bookmakers (moneyline).
WHY IS TAKING THE BEST ODDS IMPORTANT
This is a vast topic and probably needs a blog post on its own.
For now, you can think of the best odds as a bonus for life!
A difference of 2-3% in bookmakers margin might now seem big but it is: in the long run, picking the best available odds can drastically improve your betting activity.
Why should you put you money on something that has the same level of risk but pays less?
Right now, if you bet on Italian Serie A you should definitely have a williamhill.it account!
THE BONUS OFFER
As we said high odds are a bonus for life, but what bonus does williamhill.it offer right now?
Pep Guardiola‘s team, as usual, looks like a Juggernaut: they are still unbeaten, right now they are the best defense and the best offense. At home their record is impressive to say the least; on average, they score 4 goals per game and only allow 0.5.
They are surely the team to beat and keeping up with their rhythm seems very difficult!
First year in the Premier League for Maurizio Sarri, but no problems so far. He has been proving that is a great coach and managed to shape the team the way he wanted. Chelsea is only 2 points from the top and they have been very solid on the road, with only 1 goal allowed in 5 games. They will battle till the end and will put a lot of pressure on Manchester cIty.
Klopp is confirming this year what he has shown last year. Liverpool’s game is fast and entertaining, is well managed and they haven’t really changed anything from the last season. In the last 5 games they drew 3 times (Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City), showing that they deserve their high position in the table. Their only problem could be that in the long run they do not really have substitutes for their 3 main offensive players (Manè, Firmino and Salah)
Premier League 2018-2019 – Close to the Top
The Fourth and Fifth places are taken by Tottenham and Arsenal, which trail by 5 and 6 points respectively. These 2 could be interesting outsiders given their rosters and their coaches Emery and Pochettino.
Pochettino started the season with a lot of roster problems. At some point he had 8 players out for 3 straight weeks. This has obviously impacted their performance, for example at home (2 wins and 2 losses). Their road record, on the other side, is very good, as they got 18 points out of 21. Tottenham is surely a step below the 3 favorites, but they will surely finish in the top 6.
Emery has inherited Wenger’s team and that’s a heavy one. Despite the pressure though, their start was brilliant with the offensive duo Aubameyang Lacazette shining with 12 goals already in this year’s Premier League. The 2 early losses against Manchester City and Chelsea were surely heavy, but they will fight till the end for a Champions League spot.
Premier League 2018-2019 – In the Middle
From 6th to 12th position the situation is still uncertain and not very clear. In fact, we find 7 teams in only 6 points.
Bournemouth is surely the positive surprise of the beginning of the season with 20 points. Thanks to their main goalscorer, Callum Wilson (he scored 6 of 20 team goals), their are on track to a quiet second part of the season. And not only that, they can be a danger for many Premier League teams, especially at home, where they scored in 5 out of 6 games.
The unexpected negative surprise. After a shocking start, Manchester United looks back on track thanks to 4 straight positive results. The situation for Mourinho still looks complicated and, considering the top 3 teams’ pace, a 9-point gap seems to be big for a comeback. They could already be out of the battle for title and it’s only the beginning of November.
The “Hornets” started off on the right foot this season as they already got 19 points, placing them in 8th in the standings. Garcia’s team is consolidating their name as a Premier League reality that can safely avoid relegation with ample margin.
Middle of the standings for Everton without infamy nor praise. Despite investing 100 million euro in summer, Everton has not been able to take it to the next level and get closer to the top. They will anyway get a safe spot in top 8/10 at the end without too much struggle.
The Drama of their President’s, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, recent death has surely broken a situation that looked under control on the sport side. The team is in the middle of the standings, pretty far from the top but also safely above the danger zone. It will be interesting to see how Vardy and his teammates will react to the very sad news.
The wolves, after an extraordinary start, appear to have slowed their pace down drastically as they lost 3 games in a row after the Nations League break. Let’s not forget about the many new acquisitions they made during the offseason; Wolverhampton’s fans can be satisfied with the team’s start to the season and should be able to get enough points to avoid relegation in a timely fashion.
After granted themselves another year in the Premier League at the very end of last season, Brighton is off to a better start this year. They won a couple of matches against direct opponents for the relegation battle and they now have a 9 point margin on the danger zone. If they manage to keep up with these results, they will have a calm season.
Another big disappointment here. Pellegrini’s team, despite the acquisitions of Felipe Anderson, Yarmolenko and Perez during the summer break, has not been convincing. The fans surely don’t want to see another dramatic second half of the season like they did last year.
Premier League 2018-2019 – The Battle to Avoid Relegation
The relegation battle currently sees 7 teams in a span of 5 points. Burley and Crystal Palace seem equipped to be able to pull themselves out of quicksand, while teams like Southampton, Newcastle and the 3 newly promoted Cardiff, Huddersfield and Fulham will need to quickly turn things around or get new forces in January.
After an awful start with the elimination from Uefa Europa League in the Playoff Qualification Round, Burley has not yet shown signs of comeback. Their problems mainly focus on the defensive end with 25 goals allowed already. Right now they sit just 2 points above relegation and in the next 5 games they play against direct opponents; these games will be crucial! It seems impossible to repeat their previous season and their goals have been brought back to reality for this current season.
It’s a deep crisis for Hodgson’s Crystal Palace. they haven’t been able to win for the last 6 straight Premier League games and a struggling offense to say the least (4 goals scored in the last month and a half). They need to find effective solutions and they need to do it quickly or the risk to see Crystal Palace at the bottom of the table all year long will be high.
Rafa Benitez has asked for reinforcements in order to avoid relegation. In fact the numbers behind Newcastle’s season are scary: last Saturday they got their first win of the season (after 10 games) and it looks like the team needs a good player per unit. January’s transfer window will be deciding as for now, their are far below expectations.
Those painful transfers in the last few years will be tough to deal with; and we are referring to guys like Manè and Tadic for example. The “Saints” haven’t really shown any good this so far this season. The most alarming thing is that they have been absolutely demolished by the top teams, plus a couple of disappointing results against direct rivals. We expected them to be battling to avoid relegation till the very end of the season.
Huddersfield, Cardiff and Fulham
The 3 newly promoted teams are at the bottom of the league right now and they are paying for the big step between the two categories. Huddersfield has the worst offense in the league and needs to improve there, but the recent win against Fulham could be a turning point for their season.
Cardiff’s roster simply looks too weak for this category and, if no good investments during January’s transfer window, their fight to avoid relegation will be uneven.
Last position right now is Fulham. Despite the good summer markets moves like VIetto, Schurrle, Seri, Zamba Anguissa and Mitrovic, their season is looking awful right now. We still believe that they can be much better than this and maybe a coach change could be deciding as mister Jokanovic’s results have been too bad. A good defensive player could be enough to emerge from dirty waters and climb the ladders. The “Cottages” have enough talent to avoid relegation.
A Look at the outright odds
Like we did for Italian Serie B, NBA and NFL we also had a look at the current outright odds for the English Premier League, and this is what we like.
Premier League 2018-2019 Outright Odds – To Be Relegated
England Premier League 2018-2019 – To Be Relegated (bet365.com)
We think that Huddersfield will get relegated (currently priced at 1.44).
We also think that Southampton’s odds are juicy (currently at 5.00) and could be worth a try.
Premier League 2018-2019 Outright Odds – Not To Be Relegated
England Premier League 2018-2019 – Not To Be Relegated (bet365.com)
We like Fulham’s odds here. They are last in the standings currently and they have struggled a lot, but we believe their roster is good enough to still manage to do it.
Premier League 2018-2019 Outright Odds – Other Attractive odds
Without going into it too much, this is some other stuff that we like:
Leicester to finish in the Top Half, currently at 1.66 (bet365.com)
Aguero to win Top Goalscorer. Not a Market that we really like but he plays for a team that is devastating offensively. Price is 3.50 on bet365.com.
We prefer Arsenal over Manchester United to finish in Top 4. Currently priced at 2.25 on bet365.com.
One more special: Manchester City to score more than 106.5 goals in the Premier League 2018-2019 season. Priced at 2.62. It is not an easy try, but they are on pace and better to do it.
That’s a wrap for the Premier League 2018-2019 season after 11 games, for weekly picks on Premier League matches, head on to BetzCenter.com.
No, these are not the right numbers for your favorite lottery’s next draw; these numbers reflect the number of teams taking part in this year’s Serie B as situation is still evolving after more than 9 rounds have been played already! Let me explain this a little bit better, as the situation is still not 100% clear.
So, let’s try to clarify what happened during this past summer in Serie B; and consequently in Lega Pro.
While Serie A was trying to get back to its old fashioned times with Juventus’ acquisition of CR7 (Cristiano Ronaldo), Serie B was starting their mid-summer struggle:
First, the sad news of glorious clubs like Bari, Avellino and Cesena going bankrupt; they will have to start back from Serie D. This temporary meant a Serie B with 19 participating teams.
At this point, we saw the quick appeals from Catania, Novara, Siena, Ternana, Pro Vercelli and Entella. Yes, six teams appealed the decision of a 19-team based Serie B and wanted to be admitted to Italy’s second level league!
This meant that from the summer transfer window, the focus moved to the court rooms, with an endless series of decisions and appeals that led to an arm wrestling match between FIGC and Serie B itself.
So, what was the decision?
In the end, after the longest and hottest summer in recent Serie B history, they made a decision. After all sort of problems and a threatened players’ strike, it was decided that Serie B 2018-2019 would have 19 teams. This resulted in one team per week on a bye.
In fact, after an endless summer of discussions, all appeals have been rejected and a decision was finally made. This decision left many disappointed for sure, and it is still subject of discussion today. Officially the Italian Serie B 2018-2019 started on the 24th of August, when the appeals of those 6 teams above were still under evaluation.
What is Happening on the Pitch
After all the troubles, as we said, Serie B started on the 24 of August, but not without controversy.
It was not easy for the 19 Serie B team to set up an effective summer transfer window given the enormous uncertainty coming from court appeals and possible new lucky losers (and consequently more games to play).
Anyway, let’s see what is happening on the pitch.
Italia Serie B 2018-2019 Table after 9 games
The Top of the League
On paper, the favorites to be directly promoted in this year’s Serie B are Palermo (big disappointment for them as they could not get promoted to Serie A last year), Hellas Verona, Benevento and Crotone.
Palermo has already had to make adjustments as they changed their coach 3 weeks ago, but, they now seem on the right track.
Right now, after 8/9 games, all of these teams are in the top positions of the league, apart from Crotone, which, anyway, is only 6 points behind.
As usual, we expect a tight fight until the very last game, but we also think that Palermo and Verona seem to have a little margin on the rest of the teams.
A big surprise for now is Pescara. They were looking to have a quiet season, which means avoiding relegation without too much hassle and they are now leading the group. They have 19 points already and a small 1-point lead on Benevento and Verona that immediately follow.
Among playoff contenders we find, as usual, Spezia and Cittadella, as they came from an interesting summer transfer campaign. As usual in Serie B, surprises won’t be late. For example: Lecce and Foggia (Foggia started with an 8-point penalization), with their offensive game, have already scored interesting results and might still be able to aim for a post-season spot.
Brescia and Cremonese should not be underestimated as well. Brescia has already changed coach after just 3 weeks and were able to bounce back. Cremonese (gray and red) only lost away at Benevento.
The Battle to Avoid Relegation
Far more complicated is the fight to avoid relegation. For sure, it will be a battle till the last game to avoid going down to Lega Pro. Keep in mind that the last 3 will go down directly, while the 4th and 5th last teams will play a play-out.
We imagine that Venezia should be free from this complicated battle and should be able to avoid struggling too much. Their roster is good enough to play in Serie B.
Among the newly promoted teams, it is worth to mention Cosenza‘s home record. Padova hasn’t yet been able to get as many points as they deserve given the nice offensive game that they displayed. Livorno is in real troubles right now, but just got 3 points last week. Could it be the deciding match to finally improve? Carpi‘s situation looks bad too. Their summer market campaign was not enough to guarantee them a nice roster and it is difficult to imagine them in Serie B next season.
We expect ups and down from both Ascoli and Perugia, but they should be able to avoid relegation fairly easy. Perugia, is very difficult to predict, they can pretty much beat anyone but, having changed 10/11 of the starting lineup, they could also lose to anyone.
A Quick Outright Bets Analysis (after 9 rounds)
Outright Serie B 2018 – 2019 Winner
Italian Serie B 2018 -2019 Outright Winner (odds from Snai.it)
Non much to say here: Hellas Verona andPalermo are the favorite and deserve to be! As we said, it will be a close call and a long fight to conquer this year’s Serie B crown. These 2 teams are both priced at 4.5, but we think Verona has a slight margin, so that would be our pick right now.
Serie B 2018-2019 – Best of Group
Italian Serie B 2018 -2019 Best of Group (odds from Snai.it)
This kind of bet is always tricky. It is purely made up by bookmakers just to broaden up their offer with well balanced markets with reduced value, but… Here is what we like.
Group 3 winner: Foggia. The odds are juicy, currently priced at 6.50. Their roster is surely comparable to the other teams in their group. Unfortunately for them, they have to recover from a 8-point penalization. Itis difficult to understand how heavy that will be in the long run, but they could be worth the risk.
Group 2 winner: Cittadella at 5.00. This is a difficult group but Cittadella, thanks to their away record and performances, can be the surprise.
Teams Head to Head
Italian Serie B 2018 -2019 Teams Head to Head (odds from Snai.it)
Another difficult betting category, but we like a couple of matchups:
Pescara versus Lecce: Lecce at 2.75. Pescara started very strong, but pay attention to Lecce’s great offensive game; it could be deciding in the long run (and odds are attractive).
Brescia versus Cremonese: a very balanced matchup. We think that Cremonese might be able to finish above Cremonese by just a few points.
That’s it for Italy’s Serie B for now, head on to BetzCenter.com for our weekly free picks on Serie B games.
I think that was a clear mistake by the bookmakers, but when it comes to this season, I can’t really see any odds that are as attractive! So let’s have a look at all the outright betting options for the NBA 2018/2019 Season.
NBA Odds 2018/2019 – Atlantic Division Winner (snai.it)
First of all, let me say something: I don’t have a clear opinion on this conference. I know that the Nets are very weak and the Knicks are just better than them, but the other three team will fight till the end for the division title. Since I have to pick one, I would say that my favorite are the 76ers, followed but the Boston Celtics and Toronto 3rd.
Toronto changed a lot: the head coach, the main star and as a result, I expect them to be a little less competitive in the regular season and maybe better int he playoffs (which they will reach).
The Boston Celtics are strong, very strong! They will welcome back Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, which means that their offense will be much better than what we saw last year. God knows what the limit is for Tatum and they can always count on their strong defense and one of the best coaches in the NBA. I still see them as a playoff them more than a regular season team and I do not expect the same quick start that they had last year.
Similarly, the Philadelphia 76ers are one of the top teams in the league. It does not surprise me to see them priced at 3.75 (compared to last season’s 9.50) to win the Atlantic Division. I actually think that they could be the fastest at the beginning of the regular season as they were very good at the end of last season and should resume from there.
The cool thing is that tonight is the opening night and the first match of the season is Philadelphia 76ers @ Boston Celtics, so we will know a little more about this division right after the first game!
Expected Final Standings
Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets.
There will be battle here. Chicago and Cleveland look weak, I agree with the high odds there. It will be interesting to see what Cleveland does after last season’s 50-32 record and with Lebron James in Los Angeles now. I think that they will have a very very poor season as it will take time to recover from such a big loss and adapt to a new way of play, without the best player in the league right now.
We don’t think the Detroit Pistons will be a real contender; I expect them to finish 7/10 games behind the division winners. They can be a dangerous team, but I’m not too confident about how consistent they can be throughout the regular season.
We think that this division will be a 2-team affair and I agree with the bookmakers on the fact that Milwaukee has a slight margin over Indiana. Milwaukee can count on Antetokounmpo, one of the best players in the league but Indiana is a team that never gives up. No matter the players they always find a way to be competitive.
Expected Final Standings
Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers, Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers.
Eastern Conference – Southeast Division
NBA Odds 2018 – Southeast Division Winner (snai.it)
Similarly to the previous division and as odds suggest, the Southeast Division should be a battle for two. The Washington Wizards and the Miami Heat look definitely stronger than the rest of the group.
The Wizards may have better players than the Heat, but they were far from playing a good basketball last season, while Miami was much better than expected and won the division. The odds here leave little to imagination! I do not have a clear idea on the winner, but Miami’s odds are higher and, as I expect a close battle, I would pick them over Washington.
The rest of the division seems weak. Atlanta was awful last year and they should have a similar season this year. The Orland Magic were almost as better as the Hawks and they did not really improve that much. Charlotte should finish third here.
Expected Final Standings
Miami Heat, Washington Wizards, Charlotte Hornets, Orlando Magic, Atlanta Hawks.
Western Conference – Northwest Division
NBA Odds 2018 – Northwest Division Winner (snai.it)
This is the most balanced of the division and I think it is where the discussion should focus. The bookmakers set the Thunder as favorite and I disagree. Not only, They set Portland as the underdog and I strongly disagree!
The reality is that a lot can happen here, but my idea is that the Utah Jazz are the best team in this group. Their defense is really strong and Mitchell can score a lot. Plus, they are well coached and they have shown that they can go the distance. They are my pick to win the Northwest division.
The biggest danger for the Utah Jazz are the Trail Blazers (in my opinion). With current odds of 7, they could really be a nice surprise: they won the division last year and will be competitive this year too.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are a good team but by no means they deserve to be favorite. They are the kind of team that can beat anyone on a specific night, but all their ups and downs will drag them down this year again.
The Denver Nuggets and the Minnesota Timberwolves should be there fighting for a playoff spot till the end of the regular season. I see them slightly weaker than Utah and Portland, but honestly, this division is open to pretty much anything.
Well, not much to say here.
The Golden State warriors will win the division as their basketball is close to perfection and they added Cousins to their roster.
The Los Angeles Lakers will finish second if not third. This is because it will take time to Lebron and his new teammates to find a good harmony and get ready in time for the playoffs. Last year the Lakers’ record was 35-47. Pretty pathetic for the West Conference and it will be interesting to see how much better they have become with the acquisition of Lebron James.
The Los Angeles Clippers are an average team; they will try to gain a playoff spot but it won’t be an easy task for them, the West is very competitive.
Phoenix and Sacramento are awful, they will something like 35 wins behind the winners.
Expected Final Standings
Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns.
Western Conference – Southwest Division
NBA Odds 2018 – Southwest Division Winner (snai.it)
It will be Houston Rockets’ business here! I don’t expect another season like the last one from them and I actually think they are weaker now. I can’t see how Carmelo Anthony can make this team better (and they had to sacrifice players to get him, eg Ariza). Anthony is extremely weak on the defensive end and this will force the Rockets to find different solution to protect him. They are in the same situation with James Harden, so this might be more complicated than it looks like.
San Antonio will most likely make it to the playoffs, but they will really have to fight for team. They acquired DeRozan and lost Leonard. Plus, they finished almost 20 games behind the Rockets last season, so I do not expect them to be competitive for the division title.
I see the Pelicans very close to San Antonio if not above at the end of the regular season.
Dallas and Memphis are rebuilding, with Dallas the better team.
Expected Final Standings
Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies.
Under and Over Wins (regular season)
Atlanta Hawks: under 24.5 @ 1.60
Boston Celtics: under 57.5 @ 2.10
Brooklyn Nets: under 31.5 @ 1.95
Charlotte Hornets: over 35.5 @ 1.85
Chicago Bulls: over 28.5 @ 1.65
Cleveland Cavaliers: under 30.5 @ 1.85
Dallas Mavericks: over 34.5 @ 1.95
Denver Nuggets: under 46.5 @ 2.10
Detroit Pistons: over 38.5 @ 1.85
Golden State Warriors: under 63.5 @ 1.65
Houston Rockets: over 55.5 @ 1.75
Indiana Pacers: under 46.5 @ 1.75
Los Angeles Clippers: over 35.5 @ 1.60
Los Angeles Lakers: over 48.5 @ 1.85
Memphis Grizzlies: under 33.5 @ 1.90
Miami Heat: over 41.5 @ 1.75
Milwaukee Bucks: over 46.5 @ 1.70
Minnesota Timberwolves: under 44.5 @ 1.65
New Orleans Pelicans: over 44.5 @ 1.85
New York Knicks: over 29.5 @ 1.95
Oklahoma City Thunder: under 49.5 @ 1.80
Orlando Magic: under 30.5 @ 1.95
Philadelphia 76ers: over 53.5 @ 1.90
Phoenix Suns: under 29.5 @ 1.75
Portland Trailblazers: over 42.5 @ 1.85
Sacramento Kings: under 26.5 @ 1.80
San Antonio Spurs: over 44.5 @ 1.90
Toronto Raptors: under 54.5 @ 2.30
Utah Jazz: over 49,5 @ 1.85
Washington Wizards: over 44.5 @ 1.75
Just a quick note: I think this market is very difficult and I will most likely bet on it just for fun. Most of the lines are very accurate!
This is a difficult market. These are the few ones that I like from snai.it‘s NBA odds offer:
DeRozan – Butler: DeRozan @ 1.75
Jokic – Dragic: Jokic @ 1.50
Oladipo – Walker: Walker K. @ 1.73
Wiggins – Redick: Wiggins @ 1.70
Team’s Best Scorer (average points per game)
This is another player props market, and another difficult one, but some of this nba odds are juicy. So, I thought it would be nice to list the ones that I like.
Here are the selections that I like:
DeRozan for the San Antonio Spurs @ 1.80
Kyle Lowry for the Toronto Raptors @ 3.50
Nikola Jokic for the Denver Nuggets @ 2.50
Kyrie Irving for the Boston Celtics @ 1.85
Luka Doncic for the Dallas Mavericks @ 10.00
Other Odds and Wrap-up
I am not a big fan of markets such as Conference Winner, Regular Season MVP and Rookie of the Year, but I still like some NBA odds that belong to these markets…
I like Doncic to win Rookie of the year @3.25. This is because Luka Doncic is everything but a rookie! He is experience and has played at top European level for a while now. He is worth a shot.
We will discuss conference winners at a later time; for now, the only odds that I like are Philadelphia 76ers’ (4.50 to win the East).
Regular Season MVP: no clue. Lebron will have a lot of work to do to balance the team (at least at the beginning). I expect the Rockets to be worse than last season’s. Antentokounmpo’s price (6.00) is not attractive, so…
What about an outsider like Joel Embiid or Kyrie Irving? Both priced at 20.00.
That’s a wrap for the NBA odds for the 2018 season, let me know if you guys agree or not in the comments below. Time for me to go and place my outright bets!
Head on to www.betzcenter.com for daily picks and stats!
Five games might not mean much in many sports, but in American Football, it equals to more than 30% of the NFL 2018 season (well, regular season), so it is already time to compare expectations versus reality for each team! Yes, from the 6th of September 75 games have been played, some favorites won while a good number of upsets have happened; so let’s try to recap what each teams expectations were and how the reality of results is.
To keep things in order let’s have a look at each division’s standings, starting from those in the American Football Conference…
The situation in the NFL 2018 Season in the American Football Conference after 5 regular season.
NFL 2018 – AFC East Standings (5 weeks played)
New England Patriots
Expectations: NFL 2018 Season Super Bowl winner number 1 favorite.
Reality: The start of the season was ups and downs as their 3-2 record shows. The defense has been weaker than expected, while the offense is doing fine while the veteran Brady leading the troops. Qualifying for playoffs is an easy thing for the Patriots as the level in the division is low. So postseason is most likely happening, but they need more that they showed us so far to have a real shot at the title.
Expectations: Almost none as usual, playoffs are technically possible but look like a mirage.
Reality: A sprint start to the season with three straight wins. Unfortunately 2 losses in the last 2 games brought the Dolphins back down to planet earth. It’ll be very tough for them to qualify for the postseason.
Expectations: Try to win some games.
Reality: A couple of very surprising wins already at Minnesota and against the Tennessee Titans. Very bad defense with an offense that is guided by a rookie quarterback (Josh Allen) which is still too green. Tough season, in line with expectations.
New York Jets
Expectations: Get some wins.
Reality: Two nice wins already in this NFL 2018 season, with their rookie quarterback (Sam Darnold) playing well, while their defense has been poor. Transition and growth year, hoping in a brighter future.
NFL 2018 – AFC North Standings (5 weeks played)
Expectations: Playoff berth looked like a mirage.
Reality: Much better than expected. Fast start (4-1): strong offense with a shining quarterback (Andy Dalton). The defense needs improvement, they will battle till the end to win the division.
Expectations: Fight for a playoff spot without too much hope.
Reality: Ups and downs, especially when it comes to their offense. Solid defense and a very tight division, which means that the Ravens even have chances to win it.
Expectations: Try to get a few wins.
Reality: Better than expected with their first win after waiting for 1 and a half seasons. A couple of losses win close results and even a second win in these first 5 weeks of the NFL 2018 season. Their rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield is gaining experience and that will be good for the next season.
Reality: Bad start; the offense looks good, but their defense has been awful. The feeling is that the team is not really reliable; it will be tougher than expected to confirm the expectations.
NFL 2018 – AFC South Standings (5 weeks played)
Expectations: Fight for playoffs.
Reality: In line with expectations. They have a mediocre offense and a great defense. Given the balanced division, their playoff chances will last till the end.
Expectations: Confirm a playoff spot.
Reality: A little bit under expectations; the defense is very good but the offense is still not good enough. Still good chances to win the division.
Expectations: A playoffs spot in the NFL 2018 Season was forecasted by many.
Reality: The team is struggling in all units. Very bad start with 3 losses and even if they won their last 2 games to keep their post-season hopes alive, they need to do their best (and more) to reach playoffs.
Expectations: A NFL 2018 season with no chances of playoff qualifications.
Reality: Expectations confirmed, 4 losses in 5 matches and season looks compromised. Andrew Luck alone is not enough.
NFL 2018 – AFC West Standings (5 weeks played)
Kansas City Chiefs
Expectations: A tough battle to gain a spot in this NFL 2018 Season.
Reality: An amazing start to the season with a surprisingly good rookie quarterback (Patrick Mahomes). Five wins in 5 matches, with their quarterback always shining; their defense can improve but, for now, the best team in the league together with the Los Angeles Rams.
Los Angeles Chargers
Expectations: Concrete playoff chances.
Reality: Inconstant team that has been mediocre in both offense and defense. They need to step up and do it quickly to make it to the playoffs.
Expectations: A tough 2018 NFL season, tough to make it to the playoffs.
Reality: Exactly as predicted. Case Keenum is playing badly, the defense is bad as well, tough season.
Expectations: Involved in the race for playoffs.
Reality: Worse than expectations; the offense is a flop despite the big names, their defense hasn’t shown up yet and their season is compromised after 4 losses in 5 games.
Let’s move on to the second conference…
The situation in the NFL 2018 Season in the National Football Conference after 5 regular season.
NFL 2018 – NFC East Standings (5 weeks played)
Expectations: A tough season with no post-season hopes.
Reality: Their season is going better than forecasted. Their record in this NFL 2018 season is 1 win and 1 loss both at home and on the road, but they have shown to be much more competitive at home than away from FedExField. Their schedule is very tough, we don’t think they will make it to the playoffs.
Expectations: Fight for a playoff spot.
Reality: Their start to the season was more negative than positive. The offense does not look good and so does their defense, we don’t see them keeping up with their expectations.
Expectations: Make it to the playoffs plus try to defend last season’s title.
Reality: The start of the season was very negative; the offense is not working and the defense is nothing like last season’s. There is still time to recover given the weak division, but the Eagles don’t seem to be the same team they were last year.
New York Giants
Expectations: Not many, only a small chance to qualify to playoffs.
Reality: Even worse than expected, 4 losses in 5 games. The offense is not bad, their defense is non-existing. Their only playoff hope is the very balanced division they play in.
NFL 2018 – NFC North Standings (5 weeks played)
Expectations: An anonymous season.
Reality: A surprisingly good start to the season with good performances by their quarterback Trubisky. The defense good much better when they acquired Mack; the Bears can fight for that playoff spot till the very end, but it won’t be easy.
Green Bay Packers
Expectations: Easy qualification to the playoffs and a possible Super Bowl title contender.
Reality: Negative start; the defense has been very weak, their offense is 100% based on Rodgers, who is phenomenal but non enough for now. There’s enough time to bounce back.
Expectations: Easy qualification to the postseason and title hopes.
Reality: The beginning of the season was very negative. Their quarterback, Cousins, has yet to get used to his new teammates and plays. Not only that, their 2-2 record include a shocking loss at home against the Buffalo Bills. The defense does not look like the strong unit that has always been. Last week’s win against the defending champions (Philadelphia Eagles) can boost their hopes in a very balanced division.
Expectations: Almost no chances to make it to the playoffs.
Reality: In line with what we were expecting; Offense and Defense looked good at home (2-1 record), while they are awful on the road (0-2). They need to turn their away trend around to have a little chance in a surprisingly balanced division.
NFL 2018 – NFC South Standings (5 weeks played)
New Orleans Saints
Expectations: Qualification to playoffs.
Reality: So so at the beginning, but they quickly improved to a 4-1 record and now have good chances to qualify for the post season in this NFL 2018 season. The offense is bomb, while the defense needs to improve. This was our favorite at the beginning of the season to while the title and with odds at 19 (before game 1), it was impossible to not place a bet on the Saints.
Expectations: A playoff berth.
Reality: They are on the right track, the offense is good and Newton is at his best. The defense is solid as well but they need to work on their road game. They have real chances to qualify for the playoffs.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Expectations: An anonymous season with no post-season chances.
Reality: Ups and downs and slightly better than expected. The offense is working fine, but the defense is very weak; they need a miracle to make it to the post season.
Expectations: Playoffs and chances to be a real competitor even in the post season.
Reality: Awful, awful start to the NFL 2018 season; the offense is good, but the defense is non-existing. With 4 losses in 5 games, it’s already difficult to imagine them in the playoffs, they need to turn things around and they need to it now.
NFL 2018 – NFC West Standings (5 weeks played)
Los Angeles Rams
Expectations: Playoffs and a shot to the title.
Reality: Even better than expected; an atomic offense led by their quarterback Goff which seems unstoppable. The defense is not exceptional but good enough for now. Five wins in 5 matches and the best team in the league right now and also a lot of fun to watch.
Expectations: Little playoff chances.
Reality: In line with expectations; the defense is too fragile and their offense leaves the quarterback Wilson with no protection all the time. They have a big mountain to climb to make it to the post season.
Expectations: Started with little to no chances of having a positive season.
Reality: Things are even worse with 4 losses in 5 matches. A very weak offense and a quarterback that is not playing well at all (Bradford) led Arizona to such a bad record. The only win came with their backup quarterback, Rosen. The defense is trying to limit the damages.
San Francisco 49ers
Expectations: good chances to qualify for the playoffs.
Reality: Very unlucky as they lost their quarterback Garoppolo for the season. This means that they are done for the NFL 2018 season and their record (1-4) speak for itself. They will be back next year.
That’s it for teams and division standings, I hope this makes things clear about the situation after the first 5 weeks.
Let’s now have a look at the outright odds for the remainder of the NFL 2018 season and what we think.
Regular Season MVP Odds
We really like Drew Brees’ chances here. We actually think that the 3 favorites deserve to be favorite from what we have seen so far, but probably Brees and Goff have a slight margin on Mahomes as we are not sure on how long the Kansas City Chiefs will last. They have been solid so far, and the quarterback has been amazing, but he is still a rookie after all. If the Chiefs keeps playing this way, then Mahomes has a chance too.
Tom Brady is always an option and he dominates his conference: the second favorite guy to win the MVP in his conference is Roethlisberger (apart from Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs), currently priced at 26 and the Steelers do not look too good.
Outright Winner Odds
NFL 2018 Season – To Win Outright Odds (bet365 odds)
A concept that generally works in sports is that defenses win titles, but in this NFL 2018 season it looks like that is not the case. All the best teams at the moment have a very powerful offense and an average defense. What does that mean? Well, it could mean that strong attacks can go the distance this year.
Among the favorites, the most appealing odds is New Orleans’. The Saints are currently priced at 10 to win it all and even if it is nothing too juicy, it can still be a good option.
We had a preseason bet on New Orleans, when they were priced at 19, so current odds might not look good in comparison, but still… The fact with New Orleans is that they are allowing 30 points or so per game, which is far from good, but their offense has been unreal so far, with 35+ points scored on average.
To Win Division Odds
NFL 2018 Season – To Win Division Odds (bet365 odds)
It looks like the favorites already have a nice lead in almost all the divisions…
Cincinnati is playing much better than Pittsburgh and Baltimore for now, we expect them to win the division.
Jacksonville should be able to take over the Tennessee Titans as they are not really consistent, while Houston (which was the preseason favorite) is struggling big time.
Philadelphia and New Orleans should be able to win the respective division.
Minnesota and Green Bay will fight till the end as Rodgers is a better quarterback, but Green Bay’s defense has been almost non-existent so far. We don’t expect Chicago to keep up with this pace.
To Win Conference Odds
NFL 2018 Season – To Win Conference Odds (bet365 odds)
After a couple of weeks of clay court tennis, it’s clear who the King of this surface is: his name is Rafael and his last name is Nadal! But, who is the Queen? And also, what about all the other players? I think that this clay court season, considering all the injuries, is set to provide us with some really unexpected winners and perhaps, this is already happening.
Steve Johnson won the tournament in Houston, Pablo Andujar in Morocco, Marco Cecchinato in Hungary, with Rafael Nadal cashing in the top prize in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona…
Let’s have a look at BetzCenter’s own power rankings for clay courts right now, starting with the ATP.
Yes, you read that right, no one is even close to Rafael Nadal at the moment! I personally believe that if Nadal decides to play a tournament on clay courts, he will it this season. Don’t get me wrong, I do think that anything can happen in sports, and this is something that I really like, but for this clay court season 2018 I don’t expect to see Nadal losing. For example, let’s have a look at the last 2 tournaments he played in the past weeks: Monte-Carlo and Barcelona: in his last 10 matches, where Nadal always won 2-0, the total games market line was around 18 most of the time and it was as low as 16.5 (when he played Roberto Carballes Baena). Well, Nadal scored 8 unders and 2 overs totally demolishing his opponents.
I’m not a big fan of the Japanese player, but I had to pick a number 2 and given the fact that Roger Federer will not play on clay courts and Novak Djokovic and Stanislas Wawrinka are far from their top condition to say the least, I am ranking Nishikori very high. I wasn’t expecting the good run that he had in Monte-Carlo, where he defeated Berdych, Medvedev, Seppi, Cilic and Alexander Zverev before losing the final 6-3 6-2 to Nadal, but if he is fit, he is a contender!
The Austrian seemed ready to take over (especially on these slow courts) but has recently been struggling with confidence and a schedule that always seems too busy. Even even if is a little bit too defensive, his strokes are really powerful, he is a fighter and it is never easy to beat him on this surface.
Marin Cilic, David Goffin, Alexander Zverev
I’m putting these 3 together as I think their level is very similar right now and it is not easy to decide who is better than the other.
Cilic is a solid player, no matter the surface, he can rely on his big serve, his baseline strokes and his grinding mentality: it won’t be easy to play against the Croatian.
David Goffin has proven that he can be one of the best on this surface. He is coming back from a strange injury as he was hit by a ball in the eye, so we are not really sure about the speed of his recovery but he seemed ok last week in Barcelona, where he only surrendered to Rafael Nadal.
Alexander Zverev has not been impressive at all this season in general. As talented as he is, his confidence is not as high as it used to be, meaning that his skillful style of tennis is not as effective as it used to be last year. I think that form and confidence are big factors in this sport and I try to be as careful as possible when it comes to betting on the German.
Juan Martin del Potro, Roberto Bautista Agut, Stefanos Tsitsipas
I have assigned the last three spots to players that I believe have the potential to be competitive in a single week, and here is why.
Juan Martin del Potro: when he is fit he is a danger for everyone! The “only” problem is that it is pretty difficult to understand when he can be fit or not; after we see him play a couple of matches, then we can tell. But, because of his many injuries, it is not easy to speak about his conditions before the start of the tournament. Big enigma, but he surely has enough power to take everyone down.
Roberto Bautista Agut is more on the consistent side. He is one of those guys that are really tough and hard to beat. He might not be the best at anything, but he can keep up with the best!
Stefanos Tsitsipas, to me, was the surprise of the year so far. His game is brilliant, single handed backhand, strong forehand, good serve and a great fighting attitude. He made it to the final last week in Barcelona where Nadal easily defeated him, but he has proven that he can play, and beat the very best right now on clay courts. We placed a few bets on him this season already and I see no reason why we should stop.
It may look weird but some big names are not even mentioned in this ranking, here are some of them (in no particular order):
Roger Federer: as last year he has decided that he will not play on clay.
Novak Djokovic: he is struggling way more than expected recovering from his big injury. He seems to be getting better, but still far from his best.
Stanislas Wawrinka: not even comparable to the player he was in the last 2 seasons. He is as well trying to recover from a big injury and it looks like he needs more time.
Hyeon Chung: his start started to shine at this year’s Australian Open, but I don’t really think clay courts are his surface as for now. Will see if he proves me wrong or not.
Here is a screenshot of men’s outright winner odds for this year’s Roland Garros taken from Bet365, so that you can have the bookmaker’s overall point of view as well.
Tennis Men’s French Open 2018 Outright Odds
WTA Clay Courts Power Rankings 2018
As usual, the situation in the WTA is unclear! Right now, there is not a player that has a a margin on the rest of the field. It is a fact that we have great players, but ups and downs are always present and on a single day anything can happen. Clay courts require top form as games are long, tactical skills as stroke’s power is reduced and mental strength to fight for every single point.
Here’s my personal preference after a couple of weeks playing on this kind of surface:
As difficult as it can be, you have to pick a number one and I decided to go with Simona Halep. The Romanian, current world number 1, is extremely solid on all surfaces and the red clay is no exception. She has powerful strokes from the baseline, her serve has improved and his physical skills are second to none. Plus, she is a fighter, which is a great quality to have on this surface. She was finalist at Roland Garros 2017 and I think that, even if she recently lost to Coco Vandeweghe in Stuttgart (but that’s a pretty fast clay court), she is the Queen of clay right now.
Caroline Wozniacki was impressive at the start of the season, winning the Australian Open, but has slowed down since then. I don’t really know what happens to wta players when they win a Grand Slam tournament: you often see that player struggling for weeks after that! Wozniacki, if fit, has to be ranked among the very best as she is consistent with both fundamentals and her serve has improved also. Always tough to beat.
I always struggle to bet on Ostapenko’s matches. She can be extremely good, like during last year’s Roland Garros, but she can also play very poorly and lose unexpectedly. She is still incredibly young (20) and especially considering that she already won a grand slam title. She deserves to be considered as one of the best, but be careful when betting on her.
Karolina Pliskova, Elina Svitolina, Garbine Muguruza, Angelique Kerber
The order here is just a matter of preference: these four players are very different when it comes to their style of play. Pliskova has the most powerful strokes and on a good day, she is probably favorite with most of the players, but she lacks consistency, which leads to unexpected losses. Svitolina, Muguruza and Kerber are more on the consistent side, they are fighters with solid strokes. Currently ranked 4th, 3rd and 11th in the world respectively, their physical form is often a key aspect in their game. Muguruza is probably my favorite among these 3, but her form this year hasn’t been the best so far.
Caroline Garcia, Petra Kvitova, Daria Kasatkina
These last three players are ranked a little lower than the previous ones, both in these rankings as well as in WTA rankings. I personally like Caroline Garcia a lot! Her strokes are incredibly powerful and her foot work has improved. She is often underestimated by the bookmakers, so you can find juicy odds for her. Same tennis idea behind Kvitova’s game: very powerful strokes (and left-handed). The Czech has also lost some weight and has never looked in such a good shape before. Her problem? Many ups and downs, including in the same match. Daria Kasatkina is a difficult player to decrypt: she can be very solid or a total disaster. Mental strength is not really her number one weapon but I wanted to include her: currently world’s number 15, as she has shown good improvements this season.
Excluded and worth to mention
As I said it is not easy to include all the players when it comes to WTA tennis, some were not mentioned and this is why:
Serena Williams: back from “maternity leave”, she did not look brilliant yet and clay has never been her favorite surface.
Victoria Azarenka: back from maternity leave as well, plus complications with her kid’s father regarding the child custody. When she is fit, she is a big danger for everyone.
Venus Williams: she is still playing at a high level despite her age (37), but I don’t see her as a competitor on red clay.
Maria Sharapova: very poor form, I really don’t see her as a real contender on red clay.
Sloane Stephens: she looks out of shape and red clay is not really her element as well.
Julia Goerges: she probably deserves to be in top 10 or close, but she has too many ups and downs
Many other players are good but not that good. They can score the big upset in a single game but I don’t see them making it to the top 10, and I’m thinking of Mertens, Pavlyuchenkova, A. Radwanska and, maybe Bacsinszky (world number 46).
Here is a screenshot of women’s outright winner odds for this year’s Roland Garros taken from Bet365, so that you can have the bookmaker’s overall point of view as well.
Tennis Women’s French Open 2018 Outright Odds
That’s a wrap, looking forward for a long and hopefully rich clay court betting season, head on to BetzCenter.com for Stats and Experts’ Daily picks! ?