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Nadal seeks 4th straight French title

May 24, 2008 7:53 PM

by Mark Mayer | The pre-tournament developments in Paris have naturally altered the odds for the tournament, which begins early Sunday morning on the West Coast. The Las Vegas Hilton had defending three-time French champ Justine Henin as the 7-5 favorite. However, two weeks before the event, Henin announced her retirement. Maria Sharapova became the No. 1 ranked women’s player with Serena Williams installed at the Hilton as a 9-4 favorite. Sharapova is 9-2.

On the men’s side, America’s top hope Andy Roddick pulled out with a shoulder injury. Roddick was a considerable longshot at 100-1, but did own wins over world’s No. 1 Roger Federer and French favorite Rafael Nadal in the past year. Nadal, trying for his fourth straight Open title is an overwhelming 1-2 favorite on the strength of having lost just two clay court matches since 2006.

Federer, who has won every Grand Slam event but the French, is second choice at 7-2, followed by Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic at 9-2. The next closest to the trio is David Ferrer at 30-1.

The women’s singles is wide open with Henin out of the field. Ana Ivanovic, a French finalist last year against Henin, is third choice at 5-1, followed by Jelena Jankovic at 6-1 and American Venus Williams at 10-1. Another American, Lindsay Davenport, had been 40-1 but also withdrew with an injury.

The French Open, played on the famed slow red clay of Roland Garros Stadium, is the second of the Grand Slam events following the Australian Open and before Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.