Tennis - Wimbledon Preview
Wimbledon is the third and most prestigious of the Grand Slams, which brings together the elite of the men’s and women’s game for two weeks of top class tennis action at SW19. The men’s and women’s first round action gets underway tomorrow and both tournaments this year look a lot more wide open compared to previous years.
Defending champion and top seed Andy Murray will aim to emulate second seed Djokovic and third seed Federer, who both defended their titles over the last decade. However, his overall form this year and injury concerns relating to his hip leading up to this week’s championships suggest he won’t be challenging for the title in two weeks-time.
The top two seeds have a strong record at Wimbledon over the last decade; the top seed has won the title three times during this period (last 2015) and has been a losing finalist three times (last 2013). The second seed has a strong record having won the title six times over the last decade (last 2016) and they were a losing finalist twice during this period (last 2015).
Seeded players have dominated the tournament over the last decade and a player seeded no higher than three has won the last ten titles. A seeded player no higher than twelve was a losing finalist over the last decade and a player seeded no higher than six was a losing finalist nine of the last ten seasons.
The men’s tournament has been dominated by one of the big four over the last decade with only Roger Federer (3), Rafael Nadal (2), Novak Djokovic (3) and Andy Murray (2) winning the title in this period. The title has been won by the number one or second seed nine times over the last decade and the other year it was won by third seed (Federer). Third seed Federer is the favourite for this year’s tournament and he will be a popular choice to win a record eighth title after warming up well by winning Halle for the ninth time. However, at his age and the current prices, he does not appeal from a betting perspective.
Federer resides in the bottom half of the draw along with second seed Djokovic and based on the record of the second seed over the last decade it’s tempting to go for Djokovic, especially after he cruised to the Eastbourne title last week without dropping a set. However, his overall form and psychological state so far this year, especially at the Grand Slams, suggests he’s still not there mentally and with that in mind I can’t advise him until he turns things around at the elite level.
Fourth seed Nadal’s form this year, especially during the clay court season and when winning an unprecedented ninth French Open without dropping a set, suggests he’s back as a serious challenger for the title and, out of all the top players, he is my idea of the potential winner. While past statistics suggest otherwise I’m going to avoid the Big Guns Murray, Djokovic, Federer and Nadal and look for a better value winner, hopefully finding a big priced each way finalist and also look to the Quarter winner markets to return a profit.
Twelfth seed Tsonga has a strong record at Wimbledon having reached the semi-finals twice and he has been a multiple quarter finalist. With doubts surrounding Murray fitness this year Tsonga (12/1) is worth siding with to win the First Quarter. Sixth seed Milos Raonic (18/1) reached the final last year, semi-finals in 2014 and has shown decent enough form this year to side with as an alternative to Federer in the Third Quarter of the draw.
Tenth seed Alexander Zverev (7/1) is in the Third Quarter of the draw along with Federer and Raonic and is worth siding with to win the Third Quarter as he warmed up well for Wimbledon reaching the final at Halle and if he’s 100% fit he’s more than capable of beating Federer and Raonic over the best of five sets.
Moving on to the women’s tournament and the top two seeds surprisingly have not performed well at Wimbledon over the last decade. The top seed has only won the title three times in this period (all Serena 2016, 2015 and 2010 who does not defend her title) and they have never been a losing finalist in this period. The second seed has performed worse only winning one title over the last decade (2009) and they were never a losing finalist in this period.
Seeded players in general have dominated the final over the last decade and a player seeded no higher than 23 won the last ten titles and a player seeded no higher than 10 won eight of the ;last ten titles. Also, a player seeded no higher than 23 was a losing finalist over the last decade; five were top ten players and the other five were seeded between 18 and 23.
Top-seed Kerber does not appeal based on the statistics of the top-seed over the last decade and on current form, second seed Halep would appeal at the prices but the record of the second seed over the last decade suggests she won’t win and her French Open final defeat suggests she is still suspect mentally and not ready to win a Grand Slam. Sixth seed and home hope Konta would have been of interest from a betting perspective this year before she had the nasty fall at Eastbourne on Thursday. I may get involved from a betting perspective, but would like to see her play a couple of competitive matches first.
Third seed Karolina Pliskova (11/2) is well fancied to win this year’s championships and break her Grand Slam duck. Of all the current top-10 seeds due to play Wimbledon she has the best form leading in to the championships having reached the semi-finals at the French Open and more importantly winning the title at Eastbourne at the weekend in impressive fashion. There are doubts surrounding her ability to handle the pressure psychologically come the business end of the tournament, but with very few of the top players showing her type of form leading up to the event he’s worth having faith in on this occasion.
Two time winner (2010 and 2014) and 11th seed Kvitova has been backed in to favouritism after winning the Birmingham title on grass, which was only her second tournament back after her amazing come-back from a career threatening injury. She will no doubt put up a good fight again, but winning a Grand Slam requires you to produce your best tennis over two weeks and is much tougher than winning a one week tournament and at the prices I believe there’s little value in backing her on this occasion.
Other players that do appeal from a betting perspective are five time winner and tenth seed Venus Williams (16/1) in the outright market as her form has been decent and consistent so far this year, she is fully fit and her experience will be invaluable, especially if she reaches the second week. Seventh seed Kuznetsova (11/1) looks good value to win the First Quarter, as does 16th seed and 2016 quarter-finalist (lost to Serena) Pavlyuchenkova (20/1) to win the Second Quarter. Sevastova (50/1) seeded 18 warmed up well for Wimbledon by winning the title in Mallorca on grass and looks over priced to win the Fourth Quarter.
From a first round match betting perspective covering today’s matches I think the following players Shapovalov, Basilashvili and Stakhovsky will win and are worth backing in a treble that pays around 6.0. I also think the following favourites will struggle and are worth opposing in their first round matches today, Kyrgios (1.14), Anderson (1.64) and Konta (1.2).