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Tennis | Monday, May 27, 2024 8:36 AM (Revised at: Monday, May 27, 2024 8:37 AM)

Alexander Zverev vs Rafael Nadal Prediction, Picks, H2H, 5/27/24: Nadal Still the King of Clay?

Alexander Zverev vs Rafael Nadal Prediction, Picks, H2H, 5/27/24: Nadal Still the King of Clay?
Mauricio Paiz / Alamy Stock Photo: Alexander Zverev of Germany practices

Our second French Open preview for Monday from the men’s draw looks at the marquee Alexander Zverev vs Rafael Nadal encounter.  Nadal’s win probability is only 26.2%, with Zverev entering as the favorite at 1.31 odds. The handicap is 5.5 games and the total games line is 36.5. Our Zverev vs Nadal prediction is available below. 

For more daily tennis tips, visit the bettingexpert community, but if you want more expert tips from Jon Reid, visit our Expert Insights section.

Zverev vs Nadal Prediction: Nadal in Tough in Opening Round at Roland Garros

  • Prediction: Zverev -5.5 Games
  • Best Odds: 1.91
  • Bookmaker: Pinnacle
  • Stakes: 5/10

Odds as at 1:00 am UK Time on May 27th, 2024. Odds may now differ.

I’m not sure there is a worse player that Nadal could have drawn this week in Paris, other than Jannik Sinner. With Novak Djokovic struggling with his serve and Carlos Alcaraz having question marks about his arm and how it affects his forehand, Zverev is one of the worst draws for the legendary clay courter.

The German is in form, has a well-rounded game, and is incredible at playing up to the level of the best players the sport can offer. Throw in one of the sturdiest backhands on tour against that topspin forehand, and things don’t look great for Nadal.

Thankfully, he’s stated that this may not be his final appearance at Roland Garros after all, as he’s been feeling better of late (though one has to wonder how much drawing the in-form Zverev has to do with that).

I think Zverev will fancy his chances to make a run at the trophy, let alone beating Nadal. My Zverev vs Nadal prediction is for Zverev to win with relative ease.

Alexander Zverev Recent Form

I waited for this price point to come back into range after the early movement saw bettors hammer Zverev. We’ve seen just that, with the odds moving from 1.77 back to 1.91 and certainly within the range I’d play it in.

There are a few reasons to like Zverev here. First, he just won the Rome Masters, the final tune-up event for all the world’s best players. His struggles this year on the dirt have come in snowy conditions in Munich and then against bigger hitters of the ball that have been able to take it to him (Stefanos Tsitsipas, Francisco Cerundolo, and Alejandro Tabilo – the last of which he came back to beat).

At the moment, Nadal doesn’t have the serve, nor the pace from the baseline to bother him. His backhand matches up well with the elite spin Nadal will throw at him and his serve is by far the bigger of the two taking the court.

Finally, the big reason I believe giving up 5.5 games off the hop to the Spaniard is a decent proposition is that we’re playing best-of-five tennis here, and as much as Nadal has intimated that he’s starting to feel better, we haven’t seen nearly enough on the court to make me believe he’s ready to keep things close for five sets and not fade as the match wears on.

The lopsided set potential here makes me believe we should be seeing this handicap on the other side of six games.

Rafael Nadal Recent Form

Nadal is 5-3 on the clay this season entering the French Open, and ironically, it was Madrid where he fared best. This is even though Madrid is typically where he was most vulnerable in the past, having won Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, and the French Open far more often.

With his serve so weak now though, it makes sense that playing at altitude would help more than hurt nowadays, as it minimizes how vulnerable that aspect of his game is.

Even then, he beat Alex de Minaur (who is not a clay courter by any means and who beat him in Barcelona), Pedro Cachin in three sets in a match he looked exhausted in, and teenage wild card Darwin Blanch. Not exactly a murderer’s row of opposition.

His campaign in Rome – in more comparable conditions to Roland Garros – necessitated a comeback against Challenger player Zizou Bergs and then ended with a resounding defeat at the hands of Hubert Hurakcz (another player not exactly known for his clay court exploits).

With plenty of lopsided losses already on the resume this year and this being the toughest opponent he’s had to play in a format that should see him tire out physically earlier, I can’t trust him to get the job done on Monday.

Alexander Zverev vs Rafael Nadal H2H – Stat of the Match

Nadal leads the series 7-3, but I don’t think I need to point out that the current iteration of Nadal isn’t close to where he was in any of those matches.

Not sure how much you can glean from their prior matches unless you want to make the case that Zverev will be impacted by it mentally. Even then, you’d have to conclude that Zverev isn’t smart enough to understand this Rafa isn’t the same Nadal as the player that beat him in the past.

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