Iowa Adds Tennis Prop Bets In Time For French Open

Written By Russ Mitchell on May 28, 2021
french open betting props 2021

There are more ways to bet on tennis in Iowa — or as they might say at the upcoming French Open: “Il y a plus de façons de parier sur le tennis dans l’Iowa.”

The main draw play begins Sunday on the red clay at Roland-Garros. Paris is seven hours ahead of the Central time zone in North America, so early-round matches start at about 4 a.m. each day beginning Sunday.

The tournament comes to a close with the men’s final and women’s doubles final Sunday, June. 13.

Tennis Channel will have the lion’s share of the broadcast, with NBC swooping in for Memorial Day and late-round action. Both broadcasters will use steaming platforms for coverage as well.

Tennis prop bets come to Iowa for French Open

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) on May 5 added tennis prop bets to the list of approved wagers in Iowa.

Different sportsbooks will offer different options. Some examples of newly-approved bets in Iowa include:

  • Will there be a tiebreak in set 2?
  • Who will win just the first set?
  • Will a game go to deuce?
  • Will the number of games played be an even or odd number in a set?

IRGC Administrator Brian Ohorilko tells PlayIA some bets will still be prohibited, including:

  • Player injuries or arrests (considered an objectionable bet)
  • The outcome of a player’s challenge
  • Will a player hit her/his first serve out?

Players or chair umpires could easily manipulate those kinds of bets, so Iowa keeps them off the list of approved betting options. The sport as a whole keeps an eye on gambling, too.

Tennis is vulnerable to gambling corruption

Tennis is an individual sport and it can be a scramble for journeyman players to grind out a living on the tour. The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) monitors matchplay and betting patterns to make sure players reach an honest outcome on the court.

Top 100 players with sponsorships aren’t likely to risk their careers in a max-fixing scandal. The ITIA’s March 31 ban of Roberto Maytín is much more typical.

The Venezuelan received a 14-year ban for violations that took place in 2017 and 2018. For context, Maytín has never been ranked higher than 643 in singles. His peak ranking in doubles — No. 86 — came back in 2015. He had a No. 179 doubles ranking at the time of his suspension.

The ITIA accused Maytín of creating, or trying to create, a “contrived outcome” in a match.

Maytín’s ban is the most recent of three penalties handed down by the ITIA this year:

  • Nigerian tennis players Abiodun Oyegoke and Bukola Popoola received a lifetime ban in March following an investigation into match-fixing at a tournament in 2019. Oyegoke peaked at No. 986 in the world rankings and Popoola was unranked.
  • A month earlier, unranked Russian player Nikita Gudozhnikov received a 30-month ban for his failure to cooperate with an ITIA investigation.

Defending champions have best odds

The new prop bets will add variety, but picking the eventual champion remains a popular way to wager on the French Open.

Surprise, surprise: At -125, Rafael Nadal (pictured above) is the men’s favorite for tennis odds at DraftKings. He’s followed by Novak Djokovic (+400), Stefanos Tsitsipas (+550), Alexander Zverev (+1100) and Dominic Thiem (+1200). The odds are 40-to-1 or longer for everyone else.

If you “bet American,” Taylor Fritz and Sebastian Korda have the best US odds at 400-to-1. American men tend to struggle on the clay and the country hasn’t produced a Grand Slam winner since Andy Roddick’s U.S. Open win in 2003.

The women’s field has no less than 11 players with 40-to-1 odds or better. Iga Swiatek is favored to defend her title at +275. Ashleigh Barty (+500) and Aryna Sabalenka (+800) round out the top three.

US women are more prominent in the tennis Grand Slam picture. The country has produced three slam winners since 2017, plus 10 additional finalists. Serena Williams and rising sensation Cori “Coco” Gauff share co-favorite status among Americans at 25-to-1 odds.

Photo by Michel Euler / AP
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Russ Mitchell

Russ Mitchell has been covering news and sports in northwest Iowa since 1997, including 11 years as managing editor for one of the most acclaimed community newspapers in the state. He looks forward to keeping readers up to date on the growing sportsbook industry in Iowa.

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