The Wimbledon Men’s Singles tournament starts in London on June 28. Ahead of the Grand Slam, Dan Weston previews the favourites and contenders for the title.
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Inform your predictions ahead of Wimbledon 2021 with Pinnacle Podcast's Advantage Bettors, featuring host James Gregg alongside three-time champion Mats Wilander and tennis expert Dan Weston.
Wimbledon 2021 predictions: Will Djokovic dominate?
The first grass-court Grand Slam since 2019 will be a fascinating event. The main issue for analysts is that we don’t actually know which players have recent good grass-court data. Many players on both the men's and women’s tours haven’t played a competitive match on the surface since this time two years ago, so making clear assertions about a player’s performance level is quite a tricky process.
Having said that, it’s easier when a player has good data this year and a good long-term grass record as well, and that obviously applies to the tournament favourite, Novak Djokovic. The world number one is currently priced at 1.800* to win the title in the outright market (all prices quoted are with the caveat that Djokovic must start), and bettors may want to consider whether Djokovic is short-priced here given the tighter nature of grass-court matches and whether he could be vulnerable to an upset against a big-server.
On our Advantage Bettors podcast, Mats Wilander stated that he thought Djokovic was vulnerable against a number of players in the early couple of rounds and that’s perhaps not the situation you want when backing a player at odds-on. The big-serving Kevin Anderson in round two could well be a test for the Serb.
Wimbledon 2021 predictions: Who are the contenders?
Five players feature in the next tier of players - we shall call them ‘tier two’ here - with Daniil Medvedev (8.000*), Stefanos Tsitsipas (8.750*), Roger Federer (10.000*), Matteo Berrettini (13.000*), and Alexander Zverev (16.000*) the only other players priced below 34.00.
Roger Federer could be hindered by his lack of court time.
Of these, Medvedev looks to be a worthy second-favourite considering his numbers on hard/indoor courts this year. He’s showing real continued improvement and his record in quicker conditions (which grass will be) is very good as well.
Tsitsipas and Berrettini are two others who have notably improved in the last 12 months and Berrettini won the Queen’s Club Championships last week. He has an excellent service record, winning over 72% of service points on hard/indoor hard this year, and his serve will be very tough to break on the quick grass courts.
It would be hard to find many tennis fans who do not want Roger Federer to do well at Wimbledon, but the Swiss legend has played just eight matches since January 2020, losing three and also withdrawing ahead of his fourth-round match at the French Open. He comes into Wimbledon in mediocre form and faced a huge 15 break-point chances in his loss to Felix Auger-Aliassime last week at the Halle Open, which is a tournament he traditionally does very well at.
On the podcast, we discussed what success would look like for Federer and something between reaching the second week and beating everyone not called Novak Djokovic looks like a reasonable guide. He’s a supreme grass-court player but lacks competitive court time, which isn’t ideal at almost 40 years of age.
Wimbledon 2021 predictions: Who are the outsiders?
In ‘tier three’, there are a number of younger or unexposed players who could easily exhibit plenty of upside on grass. These include Andrey Rublev (34.000*), Jannik Sinner (36.000*), Aslan Karatsev (36.000*), Denis Shapovalov (41.000*), and also - in what is a rare tournament appearance - Nick Kyrgios (51.000*).
The Australian has played even less than Federer - just two events in his home country in February this year - but does have grass-court pedigree and it will be fascinating to see how he approaches the tournament. A first-round clash with Ugo Humbert, who won the Halle warm-up event on grass last week, is certainly a very tricky one and arguably one of the most interesting matches of the round.
Finally, there wouldn’t be a Wimbledon preview without a discussion about Andy Murray. The Scotsman has been drawn in the second quarter, headlined by Tsitsipas, and he faces the inconsistent Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili in round one. Murray got past another inconsistent opponent, Benoit Paire, in round one at Queen’s last week before being outclassed by Berrettini in round two.
As with Federer, it’s worth wondering what success looks like for Murray - getting past Denis Shapovalov in round three would look like a pretty decent achievement. For those readers who think that Murray can roll back the years and win a shock third Wimbledon title, the outright market is currently offering 71.000*.
Don't forget to also check out Dan’s preview of the Women's Singles tournament at this year’s Wimbledon.