Wimbledon is now upon us and the great silver trophy waits impatiently for the engraving of a 2017 champion. While the last 15 such engravings have been the exclusive property of the Big Four (Federer, Djokovic, Nadal and Murray), there are reasons to imagine a possible changing of the guard. Read on for some insight from our latest guest contributor, tennis betting expert Lewis Deyong.
Analysing the head of the market
The whole world (including yours truly) is aware of Rafael Nadal’s knee problems. Even so, he has taken a cautious approach in preparation for Wimbledon by playing no matches as of yet. However, his form in Paris was so astonishing that even Federer was later quoted as saying “I would have had no chance to beat him, I’m glad I did not go.”
In past years Rafael Nadal (4.54* to win Wimbledon this year) has made a successful French Open/Wimbledon transition on two occasions. Bjorn Borg, a player very similar to Nadal, did it five times. Can the “King of Clay” make that transition for a third time? My guess: “Yes he can.”
Not to put too fine a point on it, but Andy Murray (6.25*)is in a terrible current form of late. It is also important to note how influential the hip injury that meant he dropped out of two exhibition matches could be - tennis gossips aver the hip is a lot worse than his corner makes out.
Novak Djokovic’s (4.64*) sterling career is currently marooned in the doldrums and the impact of the much-publicised changes in his cadre remains to be seen. His victory at Eastbourne showed that he can get back to his best, but when that next Grand Slam victory comes along is anybody’s guess.
The obvious favourite, Roger Federer (3.22*) enjoyed good preparation with an easy win at Halle. Nevertheless, his current level does not look quite as imperious as his form in early season events - he did lose to Tommy Haas - and age will almost certainly be a worry for bettors (especially at a short price).
Are the next ones in the betting good enough?
For one of the outsiders to win, it requires a confluence of circumstances: a favourable draw, no injury, form, and plenty of sun to make the courts and balls extra hard and extra fast.
Marin Cilic (14.86*) has nerves that tend to fail at the business end of the set, while Tomas Berdych (107.14*) is seemingly now over the hill. Finally, Feliciano Lopez (95.56*) could well notch the odd upset but despite his heroics at Queens, it is hard to see him featuring in a second week of five set matches at the age of 35.
Despite some attractive prices, none of the aforementioned players set off my adrenaline. So what do we learn from this? Perhaps it is time for a real outsider to muscle in on the Big Four and amaze the betting fraternity in the process. Before you say “ridiculous”, let me point out a few previous Wimbledon winners and their starting prices:
Boris Becker (1985) 67.00
Michael Stich (1991) 41.00
Goran Ivanesovic (2001) 81.00
If that does not convince you, let me add here a few winners and finalists of other slams during the same period: Kuerten (67.00), Berasategui (126.00), dewulf (251.00), Johansson (101.00), Wawrinka (51.00), Tsonga (151.00), Nalbandian (126.00 at Wimbledon 2000).
Picking through the rags for value, who do we find? Well, I have two huge serving giants, both of whom are readily available high into three-figure prices:
John Isner (184.36*) is primarily known for two things aside from his talents, his height (6’ 10”) and his involvement in the famous 140 game set. I am basing this selection on what I saw on TV in Rome and Paris (four matches). Hitherto, his game plans had followed the blueprint of his American Number one predecessor Andy Roddick – if a monster serve doesn’t deliver, play a long, careful rally and hope the other guy misses.
Isner seems to have learnt from those young all out hitters Thiem and Zverev and he has undergone a total volte face. I watched him attack the groundies and look for the net to exploit his octopoid reach - there is every reason to assume he will continue this aggression that is so vital on grass.
At +150.00 you aren't going to get Pete Sampras or Andre Agassi, and you certainly need the all important element of luck on your side, but it has happened before and at some moment in time it will happen again.
Kevin Anderson is another that benefits from a height advantage (he’s slightly smaller than Isner at 6’ 7”). Two years ago in a Round 16 match at Wimbledon, Anderson needed only one point to be serving for the match against Djokovic. He hasn’t done much since (a series of injuries intervened) but the potency of that huge serve is still there.
Anderson is now priced at 165.06* after his first round victory. His draw looks tricky but he has already beaten Verdasco. The biggest drawback to these two is their relatively slow speed around the court but on fast grass courts one and two shot rallies do predominate.
For one of the two outsiders mentioned above to win, it requires a confluence of circumstances: a favourable draw, no injury, form, and plenty of sun to make the courts and balls extra hard and extra fast. Even so, this confluence can appear and obviously did so to help that former trio of big servers (Becker, Stich, Ivanesovic) across the line.
At +150.00 you aren't going to get Pete Sampras or Andre Agassi, and you certainly need the all important element of luck on your side, but it has happened before and at some moment in time it will happen again. Another benefit is that you could find yourself hedging to guarantee profit regardless of how these players do later down the line.
Considerations for WTA Wimbledon betting
Serena Williams seems to be on course for a Challenge Match with John McEnroe. Certainly “The Mouth” would put in an all out effort (unlike the late Bobby Riggs in his battle of the sexes versus Billie Jean King) and I see him to be the winner. More importantly, the absence of Serena leaves the Ladies Draw wide open.
Petra Kvitova is already a double Wimbledon winner; her lefty spin serve is always a ballistic missile on grass (similar to that of Navratilova, McEnroe, Ivanesovic etc.). If her big forehand is also functioning she will take a lot of beating – the biggest negative against Kvitova is her lack of self-belief.
Despite being a class shot maker she is not a great competitor and on key points she can get tighter than her racquet strings. Of course, her horrific injury and six months away from the court need to be considered as well.
Conditions could suit the outsiders
In view of Nadal’s total domination of the men at Roland Garros, the emergence of the remarkable Jelena Ostapenko made the tournament. One statistic that stands out from the French Open is that over a sampling of 100 forehands by each, her forehands averaged out at 3mph faster than those of Andy Murray. What does that mean for betting at Wimbledon?
Fifty-four winners is virtually unheard of in women’s clay tennis and that ratio of 50/50 is also miles above average.
At Eastbourne, Suarez Navarro served to save the match down 4 - 5 in set 3. Ostapenko hit two clean forehand winners from the deuce court and at 15 - 40, Suarez was so nervous of that shot, she tried to serve down the middle and wound up double faulting to lose the match - being able to put her opponents under this kind of pressure will certainly benefit the Latvian at SW19.
In the Paris final, the world number 12 had figures of 54 winners plus 54 unforced errors. Fifty-four winners is virtually unheard of in women’s clay tennis and that ratio of 50/50 is also miles above average - she is currently 16.259* to win the tournament.
She should produce a string of winners on the faster surface, which according to past performance she does enjoy - she won Junior Wimbledon three years ago. One of Ostapenko’s biggest drawbacks is her dicey second serve, but to compensate, she is a great competitor – in three of her French Open wins she came back from one set down.
Coco Vandeweghe is now coached by Pat Cash and can perhaps straighten out her notoriously brittle temperament and win her first career Grand Slam. She is a genuine threat with perhaps the biggest serve in the whole women’s field. Given her mental fragilities, 20.08* is not an appealing price, but the incursion of Cash could well change things.After a miserable clay season, local pin-up girl Johanna Konta (12.43*) has come good just at the right moment. One member of the Wimbledon “L8 Club” opined, “The Konta/Ostapenko match at Eastbourne looked the quality of a Slam semi-final”. Her serve (especially second) is up with the best and it looks likely that a last 16 match versus Kvitova will decide her fate one way or the other.
The common theme with the options in the betting that have been outlined above is that they will want a sunshine filled Wimbledon to perform at their best; the heat will help big serves.
The common theme with the options in the betting that have been outlined above is that they will want a sunshine filled Wimbledon to perform at their best; the heat will help big serves. Remember, the Wimbledon Men’s tournament averages around 85% service holds and in fast conditions the sky’s the limit.
About the author
This expert insight was provided by Lewis Deyong. A man who has dedicated a lot of his life to refining the art of gauging a good bet. He is an elite Backgammon player - a runner-up in the 1972 World Championships – has written books on the subject, and as the originator and organiser of the World Championships in Monte Carlo, has rubbed shoulders with – and learned from - a who’s-who of famous gamblers.