Au revoir, underdog

May 22, 2007 12:33 AM

If you like favorites, then this year’s French Open is for you.

The men’s singles draw should be shortened to the final. It’s highly unlikely anyone will beat Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer, easily the two best men’s tennis players on the best. And, with Serena Williams bowing out early in the Italian Open, it appears Justine Henin is a very solid choice at 7/4.

The Russians will again be coming hard in the women’s draw, headed by former world’s No. 1 Maria Sharapova at 7/1. Venus Williams, Serena’s older sister, is 16/1 and fighting injuries. The red clay of Roland Garros is not her best surface. Another former No. 1, Martina Hingis, is listed at 22/1. Hingis came back to the women’s circuit late last year after a lengthy retirement.

On the men’s side, the most familiar USA face is Andy Roddick. Tennis legend Jimmy Connors took over as Roddick’s coach this season, but his pupil has also struggled with injuries. Like Venus, red clay is not Andy’s best surface and explains in part his very generous 80/1 odds on the board at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas.

The second major in pro tennis begins May 28 and lasts through June 11. Wimbledon follows two weeks later in London on grass. Nadal is seeking his third straight French Open title.