On Monday, May 27th, 14-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal takes on world No. 4 Alexander Zverev in the first round of action at Roland Garros. Nadal has had an up-and-down season thus far. He has largely struggled to recapture the clay-court magic that helped him win the 2022 French Open. His hip injury in 2023 really did a number on him. But Nadal is feeling good enough to play in Paris this year, and people are naturally very interested in seeing whether or not he can compete. Unfortunately, a meeting with Zverev means that Nadal will be on the ropes immediately. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that this won’t be a competitive match. That said, keep reading to see how I’d suggest betting on Nadal vs. Zverev.

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Zverev is arguably entering this tournament in the best form of any of the top-five players in the world. The German won a Masters 1000 title in Rome, where the conditions closely resemble the ones in Paris. His ability to serve translates to pretty much any surface, but his baseline game is perfect for slower clay courts. Zverev’s backhand is one of the biggest weapons in tennis, and he can hammer that shot for winners pretty much anywhere. However, his forehand can be a little shaky. Luckily for him, these conditions help with that. Zverev needs a little time to set himself up for that shot, and the high bounces here give him that time. Zverev is also smart about using topspin on clay, which is a good shot to have in Paris. So, it’s not as easy to pick on that side here.

All in all, Zverev should be able to find a way to beat Nadal. After all, the German is a legitimate contender to win this tournament. He also was pretty close to beating Nadal here in 2022, but Zverev injured his ankle in the second set. That injury required surgery and really sidetracked Zverev’s career. But Zverev had won three of his previous four matches against Nadal, and the two have gone in opposite directions since. So, he’ll feel really good about his chances of advancing, even if this is a nightmare of a first-round draw for him. Despite that, I think the bet to make in this match is the Over on an alternate total of 33.5 games.

Nadal hasn’t been able to consistently string together good performances this season, but he has apparently looked great in practice sets since arriving in Paris. I haven’t been able to find scores for all of them, but he beat Daniil Medvedev 6-3 in one and Holger Rune 7-5 in another. Medvedev also stated that Nadal looks a lot sharper now than he did in Madrid or Rome. And if Nadal actually is playing a little better, I like his chances of winning a set in this match — especially early on. He should come out with a lot of adrenaline, and the crowd is going to give him all sorts of energy. With that in mind, I think he’ll look a little like vintage Rafa in the early going, and Zverev’s nerves will likely be all over the place as he settles into the match.

If Nadal does win one set, it’s going to be hard for this match to go Under this number. A total of 33.5 games also happens to allow for lopsided sets elsewhere throughout the match. Those should be expected considering Nadal’s body can break down at any moment. That’s why I’m paying up to go Over on this specific number.

Ultimately, this bet allows you to get a piece of Nadal and root for him in what should be one of the most electric matches of the tournament. If one thing’s for sure, Nadal is going to empty the tank to try and win this one. And that’s really what I’m banking on here. I’m willing to deal with a little juice to bet that the King of Clay won’t get completely wiped off the floor in what could be his final match ever on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Bet: Over 33.5 Games (-159)

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