Fri 22/05/2015 - 14:46 EDT

Djokovic, Serena Favored To Win 2015 French Open

The second major championship of the season is upon with the French Open on the red clay of Roland Garros in Paris. And there's a bit of a surprise among  the men's odds to win at Bovada. Rafael Nadal is the greatest clay-court player in history and  has won a record nine French Open titles. He has just one career loss there. Yet Nadal is struggling a bit this year and is just the No. 6 seed and thus he is the 7/2 second favorite to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who is 5/6.

Nadal Vs. Djokovic In Quarters

The unfortunate thing about Nadal being seeded so low is that Djokovic is likely going to be waiting in the quarterfinals. Should their 44th match happen, it would be the earliest the two have met since 2007. That No. 3 seed Andy Murray was also drawn into the top half adds yet another meaningful roadblock for both men. To defend his title, Nadal could have to go through Djokovic, Murray and then Roger Federer in the final. Djokovic is going for the career Grand Slam and has been all but unbeatable in 2015.

In the other half, No. 2 Roger Federer's path looks somewhat easier with a potential quarterfinal match against Stan Wawrinka. While Djokovic, Nadal and Murray battle it out in the top half of the draw, Federer has a far easier path to the final. He's been drawn with No. 4 Berdych, No. 5 Kei Nishikori and No. 8 Wawrinka, two of whom—Wawrinka and Berdych—he routed just last week in Rome. The biggest danger in his half will probably be Nishikori or No. 12 Gael Monfils, who has two straight wins over him on clay. Monfils and Federer could play in the fourth round. Yet Federer is only 11/1 to win.

Serena Favored As Usual

On the women's side, Serena Williams is the 11/4 favorite followed by Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep at 4/1. With Victoria Azarenka, Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens and Caroline Wozniacki all drawn in the top half of the draw, Serena is no lock for the final. After what should be two fairly straight-forward opponents in the first two rounds, she could face Azarenka (3R), Venus or Stephens (4R), Wozniacki (QF) and Kvitova, who beat her three weeks ago in Madrid.

Another trophy at Roland Garros would allow the 33-year-old Williams to become the third player in the history of tennis to reach a total of 20 majors. Margaret Smith Court holds the all-time record of 24. Last year, in wind and rain, Williams absorbed the most lopsided loss of her Grand Slam career - 6-2, 6-2 in the second round against 35th-ranked Garbine Muguruza. And in 2012, Williams' unbeaten streak of 46-match first-round wins at majors ended with a three-set loss to 111th-ranked Virginie Razzano.

Sharapova, the defending champion, will need to be sharp from her first match after drawing one of the most dangerous unseeded women in the draw in No. 49 Kaia Kanepi. Sharapova could then face former finalist Sam Stosur in the third round with a potential rematch of the three-set Rome final against No. 8 Carla Suarez Navarro in the quarterfinals. Also looming as a potential quarterfinal opponent is No. 11 Angelique Kerber, who beat Sharapova early in the clay season in Stuttgart.

Halep, a finalist last year, failed to make a final in the clay-court lead-ups and has admitted that she needed match-play to find her confidence. Her path to the semifinals: Evgeniya Rodina (1R), Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (2R), Alize Cornet (3R), Agnieszka Radwanska or Elina Svitolina (4R) and then Ana Ivanovic or Ekaterina Makarova in the quarterfinals. Given the current slumps of Radwanska, Ivanovic and Makarova, Halep couldn't ask for better.