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Rafael Nadal favored but vulnerable at French Open

Rafael Nadal has ruled the French Open since 2005, but there are signs his grip on Roland Garros might be weakening.

Nadal — a 19-time major winner, including 12 at the French — has battled a series of injuries, and he recently lost to Diego Schwartzman on clay at the Italian Open. He also faces two formidable challengers in top seed Novak Djokovic, one of only two people to beat Nadal in Paris, and Dominic Thiem, the newly crowned U.S. Open champion and French runner-up to Nadal the past two years.

The tournament begins Sunday. The women’s final is scheduled for Oct. 10 and the men’s Oct. 11.

“Djokovic certainly and Thiem very recently have shown that they can compete,” Westgate sportsbook executive manager Eric Osterman said. “Some injuries are starting to catch up with (Nadal) a little bit.”

Nadal remains the -120 favorite to win his 20th major at the French and match Roger Federer for the all-time lead. Djokovic is the 2-1 second choice, and Thiem is +350. Djokovic has the cleaner path, as he gets to avoid Nadal or Thiem until the final.

Osterman said the Westgate makes it a point to “stay higher on Nadal, knowing that he’s going to make a run.”

Thiem actually leads the ticket count after his recent success, Osterman said.

On the women’s side, top seed Simona Halep is the clear favorite at +225 with top-ranked Ashleigh Barty and No. 3 Naomi Osaka, the U.S. Open champion, skipping the event.

Halep won the French Open in 2018 and is a two-time runner-up. She skipped the U.S. Open to prepare for the French.

Garbine Muguruza, the 2016 French champion, is the second choice at 6-1. Perhaps in a sign of the weakness of the field, Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams are the next two choices, each at 12-1.

Azarenka has good recent form, reaching the U.S. Open final before losing in three sets to Osaka, but she hasn’t advanced past the third round of the French since 2013.

Williams is a three-time French champion, but she hasn’t advanced past the fourth round since 2016.

“People always bet Serena,” Osterman said. “It doesn’t matter what her odds are.”

Contact Jim Barnes at jbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0277. Follow @JimBarnesLV on Twitter.

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