Wimbledon 2017 starts next week, and with players either fine-tuning their preparations in this week’s grass warm-up events or taking the week off to rest, our tennis expert, Dan Weston, takes a look at the conditions and contenders for the men’s singles at SW19. Read on for some expert insight into the outright ATP Wimbledon betting.
Arguably the most glamorous of all the tennis tournaments on the ATP Tour starts next Monday. For the next fortnight, the world’s top players do battle on the famous grass courts, but who stands out in the outright ATP Wimbledon betting?
The important of the surface and conditions
Unusually for the event, conditions are set fair, at least for next week. The forecast is for sunshine and temperatures in the low 20s Celsius, so with temperatures significantly lower than those that beset the UK several weeks ago, it is unlikely that the weather will have any significant impact on player fatigue.
84.4% of service games were held on the ATP Tour across all grass events in the last three years (a figure around 5% above the all-surface tour average).
However, avoiding five-set encounters is still vital for any player with aspirations of taking the title. Many previous previews have discussed the effect of accumulated fatigue in Grand Slams, and a five-set victory certainly has an adverse effect on a player’s winning chances as opposed to a more straightforward win, and this phenomenon is even more profound for lower ranked players.
If you know how to bet on tennis, you will know that grass is the quickest surface on the tennis calendar - at the time of writing, 84.4% of service games were held on the ATP Tour across all grass events in the last three years (a figure around 5% above the all-surface tour average). Additionally, a mean of 0.66 aces per game were achieved.
Wimbledon’s data is almost identical to the ATP grass court mean figures, with 83.9% of service games held in this time period and a mean of 0.64 aces per game. With this in mind, it’s difficult to make a case for the predicted court speed to be anything other than medium-paced for grass, yet still extremely fast compared to all-surfaces.
The pace of grass will significantly assist those who benefit from big serves, and conversely negate the assets of clay courters who benefit from long rallies. Bettors should consider whether some big servers might represent value in the ATP Wimbledon betting - even if it’s to hedge a bet later in the tournament - use our Abitrage Calculator to help calculate how to hedge a bet.
Can Federer win Wimbledon yet again?
Certainly, the most serve-orientated player in the elite four is Roger Federer. On this basis, it’s no particular surprise that Federer’s historical record at Wimbledon is significantly ahead of his rivals. Indeed, the Swiss legend takes his place at the forefront of the market following his victory in Halle last week and is currently 2.840* to claim the title.
It’s difficult to dispute Federer’s status as the market favourite - his 26-5 record in the last two years on the surface is only inferior to the out of form Andy Murray. Federer’s hold/break stats are just as impressive as his main rivals - holding 93.6% of the time, breaking opponents 21.1% (combined 114.7%).
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At this stage, it’s worth mentioning that combined hold/break stats are lower on grass compared to other surfaces; due to the fact that it is easier to hold serve.
Throughout his career, Federer has won seven of the ten finals he has competed in at Wimbledon. He has, however, lost his last two to Novak Djokovic (2014 and 2015) and suffered a defeat to Milos Raonic last year in the semi-final.
Much has been made of Federer’s perceived lack of endurance in long matches, but his record in deciding sets in recent years is far from mediocre. In the the last year, he’s won four of five final set deciders, beating Marin Cilic, Kei Nishikori, Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal. The only blot on his copybook is the aforementioned defeat to Raonic, where he succumbed when 2-1 up in sets.
With Nadal, Murray and Djokovic all priced between 4.920 and 5.790*, there isn’t much separating them in the outright Wimbledon betting. This illustrates both the open nature of this tournament - something that cannot always have been said for men’s Grand Slams - and the difficulty that the market has had in pricing up two players who have looked lacklustre all season (Murray and Djokovic) and one apparently suffering from fatigue (Nadal).
Will Nadal transfer his clay form to grass?
Rafael Nadal last made the final at SW19 in 2011, where he lost to Djokovic in four sets, and in the nine matches he’s played at the venue subsequently has just a 5-4 record - despite being priced at 1.126 or below to win each match. Defeats against Lukas Rosol, Steve Darcis, Nick Kyrgios (when the Australian prodigy was ranked outside the top 100) and Dustin Brown hardly inspire confidence that Nadal will regain his grass mojo here.
Bettors will need to consider whether Nadal can transfer this form to grass and reverse his mediocre recent level on the surface.
The Spanish left-hander’s record in grass warm-up events since that 2011 final fails to convince either, with defeats to Philipp Kohlschreiber, Dustin Brown (again) and Alexandr Dolgopolov, and just a solitary title in Stuttgart, where he struggled in early rounds and needed deciders against Marcos Baghdatis and Bernard Tomic.
After a stellar clay season Nadal is the form player in the field, but bettors will need to consider whether he can transfer this form to grass and reverse his mediocre recent level on the surface - he is currently 5.05* to win the tournament.
What’s gone wrong for Murray and Djokovic?
Mediocre would certainly also be a good word to describe the performances of Andy Murray (4.50*) and Novak Djokovic (5.94*) this season. Murray is currently 22-9 for the year, holding serve 78.3% and breaking opponents 32.2% (combined 110.5%) and Djokovic only marginally better at 23-7 with a combined hold/break number of 111.9%.
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Neither of these percentages are even close to the 120% mark that indicates elite level, and with both players having turned 30 in May, it is far from guaranteed that this decline will be reversed.
However, both players have fond memories at the venue, winning two titles each in the last four years. It is both their reputation and historical record that affords these players market respect - whether they live up to those expectations remains to be seen.
It is worth noting that Murray pulled out of his match yesterday at the Hurlingham exhibition event with a hip complaint - this is far from the first issue Murray has had with his hip, and the effect of this (as well as his recovery from shingles) may be the reason for his poor recent form.
Other major players in the market
Last year’s beaten finalist, Milos Raonic, along with the Nick Kyrgios, Grigor Dimitrov, Alexander Zverev, Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic comprise the remaining players priced below 50.00 in the outright market.
Raonic has struggled in recent months, and looked far from fully fit in defeat to Pablo Carreno-Busta in the French Open last month. The big-serving Canadian, who should thrive in these conditions, will have been hoping for more court time than a straight set double tie-break defeat to Thanasi Kokkinakis last week at Queens.
The grass-loving Lopez took the title in Queens last week and has seen his odds dramatically shorten.
If Raonic’s serve is at its best, he will be extremely difficult to break. A hold percentage of 95.0% on grass in the last two years certainly backs up this statement and is likely to draw a lot of attention in the outright ATP Wimbledon betting.
Of the other players mentioned, Dimitrov and Cilic have shown ability on the surface previously, although both players have consistently flattered to deceive in major events, while the younger Zverev brother was runner-up to Federer last week in Halle.
There are bigger doubts over Wawrinka and Kyrgios. Wawrinka’s record on quicker surfaces has been brought into question previously, and he’s never won a grass-court title, reaching only one final in his entire career. The world number three will need to draw on all of his big-match experience if he is to impress in the coming fortnight.
Kyrgios’ long-standing hip injury forced his retirement at Queens against Donald Young last week. While there is little doubt that the Australian is a player for the big stage, it is difficult to see him make a significant impact this year at Wimbledon - especially if he shows signs of tanking that we’ve seen in the past.
Bettors should consider whether some big servers might represent value in the ATP Wimbledon betting.
Of the players priced in excess of 50.00, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Tomas Berdych, Feliciano Lopez and John Isner will all be tough to break in matches, with all four players boasting a strong serve. The grass-loving Lopez took the title in Queens last week and has seen his odds dramatically shorten to a current 71.290*.
Further outsiders who could make some progress also include Steve Johnson, who has a solid record on the surface, and Mischa Zverev. The older Zverev brother’s serve/volley style was virtually made for grass and he could certainly pull off a shock or two in the coming fortnight. Both are available at 386.30* at the time of writing.
With question marks surrounding most of the players in the draw, an open event is anticipated, and it is far from guaranteed that an elite player will take the title - a statement which hasn’t been uttered too frequently in recent years.
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