Before I move on to my 2018 Wimbledon preview I’ll just give a quick update on last week’s ATP Tour grass court action at Eastbourne and Antalya and how the top five seeds got on at these two ATP tournaments and the WTA event at Eastbourne. At Eastbourne the final was between two veteran journeymen of the ATP Tour, Mischa Zverev (advised 25/1) aged 30 from Germany and 30 year-old Lukas Lacko from Slovakia. Both players were, remarkably, aiming to win their first ever main ATP Tour title, which shows how difficult it is to win one during a career, even when you have been in the top one hundred of the ATP rankings for long periods.
Zverev made it a great week for my Tennis advice, defeating Lacko 6-4 6-4 in Saturday’s final and the level stakes profit is 37.5 points. At Antalya, Turkey top-seed Mannarino (advised 7/1) faced second seed Dzhumur in the final and it was a strange match, which Dzhumur won 6-1 1-6 6-1. Hopefully you managed to at least cover your stake on Mannarino by backing Dzhumur or laying Mannarino on the exchanges.
It’s time to wrap up my ATP and WTA top five seeds grass court system for another year and overall this year the system is up 8 points. Opposing all the top five seeds (except when it is a Main Bet and/or when two top five seeds play each other) at all the ATP grass court tournaments this year made a loss of approximately 3.5 points, which is way down on last year’s profit of approximately +17 points, and only one (Halle) was profitable this season with approximately 5 points profit. The WTA compensated for the ATP losses this year with a profit of approximately 7.5 points, which is an improvement on last season when the system returned a fractional loss. Overall the system is still well in profit and since 2010 the total profit is approximately 166 points to a level one point stake.
Wimbledon is the third and most prestigious of the Grand Slams and brings together the elite of the men’s and women’s game for two weeks of top class tennis action at SW19. Nine time winner, defending champion and top seed Federer will aim to win an unprecedented tenth Wimbledon title and break his own record of becoming the oldest ever winner of Wimbledon in the modern era. The top two seeds have performed well over the last decade; the top seed has won two of the last ten titles (last Djokovic 2015) and they were a losing finalist three times during this period (last Djokovic 2013). The second seed has a strong record having won six of the last ten titles over the last decade (last Murray 2016) and they were a losing finalist once during this period (last Federer in 2015).
Seeded players have dominated the tournament over the last decade and a player seeded no higher than three won the last ten titles. A seeded player no higher than twelve was a losing finalist each year over the last decade and a player seeded no higher than seven 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 during this period.
The title has been won by the number one or two seed eight times over the last decade and the other two years it was won by the third seed (Federer 2017 and Federer 2012). Top seed Federer is the favourite for this year’s tournament and he will be a popular choice to win a record tenth Wimbledon title after warming up well winning Stuttgart and making the final at Halle, where he lost to the unseeded NextGen star Coric a fortnight ago. Second seed Nadal’s last title at SW19 came back in 2010 when he defeated Berdych in the final and his last final appearance was 2011 when he lost to Djokovic.
Going on his form and results on grass since 2011 Nadal’s chances of reaching the final and winning a third Wimbledon title don’t look good, especially as he’s not played any warm up grass tournaments again this year. However, you can never rule someone of Nadal’s ability out and with the record of the second seed being so good, the fact he’s well rested and has received a decent draw means he cannot be discounted and the bookmakers are taking no chances at single figure odds.
From an outright tournament betting perspective current form and the statistics stated above from the last decade suggest the winner will be seeded three or below. Third seed Cilic (15/2) is drawn to potentially meet Federer at the semi-final stage and I’m confident he will have a better chance of reaching back-to-back finals and winning his second Grand Slam title this fortnight. I think Federer could be potentially vulnerable to an early exit this year as the manner of his wins at Halle, a tournament he has dominated and won nine times, did not fill me with confidence as he lost the final, but also dropped sets and had to work much harder than he would have done in previous years against the type of opposition he usually beats comfortably in straight sets. He has a potentially tricky opener against the experienced and aggressive big hitter Lajovic from Serbia and how Federer performs should give us a good idea of how well he is going to do this fortnight.
As the games elite and top ten players continue to dominate the Grand Slams, I’ll limit my outright selections to two players based on the above statistics and because Nadal and Djokovic are worth taking on from the bottom half of the draw. Nadal last reached the final back in 2011 and I don’t think Djokovic is back to his best mentally yet. The one player who is in form on grass and has the potential to reach the latter stages is Kyrgios (20/1). He is drawn to potentially meet fourth seed Sascha Zverev at the fourth round stage, then potentially Thiem, Edmund or Djokovic at the quarter final stage and then potentially Nadal or maybe Del Potro at the semi-final stage.
On current form on grass he has the potential to beat any of these players over the best of five sets on grass, especially as only Djokovic is the only player from this group who has form on grass this year reaching the final at Queens. Backing Kyrgios obviously carries a risk relating to his temperament, but he managed to keep his bad side in check for most of the week at Queens, and if he can build on that good run and improve over the next fortnight, he could emerge as a serious contender next week.
While I’ve come close on numerous occasions I haven’t had any joy over the last few seasons tipping Quarter Winners at Slams and Masters 1000 Series tournaments, so I decided to analyse the other peripheral markets and have settled on the player to hit the ‘Most Aces’ at this year’s tournament. Cilic (4/1) and Querrey (10/1) are both in the all-time top-20 for ace leaders on the ATP Tour and their main weapon is even more effective on quicker surfaces like grass. They both have form at Wimbledon, Cilic reaching the final and Querrey the semi-finals last year, and if they both arrive fit and healthy for this year’s Championship, they are both capable of reaching the latter stages again. If they do, it should mean they are in a strong position to contend for the accolade of serving the ‘Most Aces’ this year.
From a first round match betting/trading perspective there’s a few matches and players I have unearthed that will hopefully return a nice profit. Veteran Youzhny faces fellow veteran Karlovic for the sixth time and I like Youzhny because he leads the head-to-head 4-1 and Karlovic is not in great form at present losing his last six matches, including both first round matches on grass this year at Stuttgart and Eastbourne. On Tuesday I think Chardy is worth siding with against Shapovalov because he’s been in great form on grass this year and Shapovalov has struggled due to his inexperience on the surface, winning only one of his four matches this season. Chardy reached the final at Hertogenbosch and semi-finals at Queens and if he can reproduce that level of form tomorrow, he will have a good chance of progressing to the second round.
There are also a few first round outsiders that I like and that have the potential to cause upsets. Johnson is worth opposing against qualifier Bemelmans as the Belgian is an experienced pro who is more than capable of springing first round upsets as a qualifier at big tournaments. He impressed coming through qualifying last week and his straight sets win against the resurgent Tomic, who is a proven top class performer on grass, was particularly eye catching. If he produces that level of performance today he will have a good chance of beating Johnson, who has not looked at his best this summer, especially on grass a surface he has excelled on in the past.
Andy Murray faces a tough opener and is worth opposing against the enigmatic Paire from France. Paire has been in good form this summer and he looked good on grass at Halle, just losing a close one against Federer in three sets. If he can continue that good form against Murray he has a real chance of upsetting the former British number one, as he’s only played three competitive matches since returning from a year off from injury, and as Djokovic and Wawrinka have shown this year, it takes time before you reach the level you were at pre injury.
Finally, I like to oppose players in the first round when they have just won an ATP tournament. Mischa Zverev (advised 25/1) won the Eastbourne title on Saturday, which was well deserved as it was his first ever main ATP title win at the ripe old age of 30. He beat Lacko 6-4, 6-4 in the final and now has a quick turnaround playing the first round of Wimbledon against Herbert from France on Tuesday. For most ATP professionals, it’s very difficult to maintain the same level of form immediately after a title win, because they may be less motivated after winning a big purse, they may want to enjoy the experience for longer and after a big high like winning your first main ATP tournament there is likely to be the inevitable low when you come back down to earth.