The Championships Wimbledon begin on Monday at the All England Club and now that the draw for the men’s singles has been made, Sean Calvert returns with his thoughts on the outright betting markets.
We’re back at on the hallowed lawns of the All England Club for the first time since 2019 for Wimbledon and world number one Novak Djokovic is gunning for a 20th major title, but before I get into that a look back at what was a weird week in Eastbourne and Mallorca.
My week in Eastbourne started out with a washout on Monday and ended with a blowout when 50-1 shot Adrian Mannarino was poor in his Mallorca semi final against Sam Querrey.
Before that, once again, we had one lose from heavy odds-on, with our 33-1 chance Miomir Kecmanovic somehow squandering a set and 5-3 lead against the previous week’s Halle champion Ugo Humbert.
Kecmanovic must have been both kicking himself and wanting to boot Humbert when the Frenchman ‘did a Federer’ and didn’t bother turning up for the next round, allowing Querrey, who had only just made it past Roberto Carballes Baena, a free pass to the quarter finals.
Vasek Pospisil made the quarters in Eastbourne, but surely he wasn’t completely focused on matters at hand in the week that his PTPA took things up a notch in its power struggle with the ATP.
What was equally annoying as all of the above was that the previous week’s 20-1 shot Lorenzo Sonego, who was utterly atrocious when we backed him at Queen’s Club, made the final (final yet to be played at the time of writing) a week later in Eastbourne.
It can be a frustrating business backing big-priced players on the outrights.
Conditions and trends
On to Wimbledon then and the lawns of the All England Club haven’t been played on since 2019, so the courts should be in prime condition – at least for the first week.
We usually see slightly different conditions in the opening week when the ball stays low and skids through a bit on the new grass, but the second week (weather dependent) is often more suitable for hard court players as it firms up and bounces higher.
After two years without any play the court speed is somewhat of an unknown quantity, but assuming they haven’t decided to make it faster it’s usually slower than the likes of Queen’s Club, Halle and Stuttgart.
Service holds would suggest that and it does sit right at the top in terms of tie break matches, but that’s largely due to the tournament being played over the best of five sets, rather than three.
Trends suggest that any man who wants to win Wimbledon must first have won a Masters 1000 title (the last man not to do so, although he won one later, was Richard Krajicek in 1996) and big-priced champions are as rare as hen’s teeth in the men’s singles.
Kevin Anderson made the final as an 80-1 shot in 2018, but given his game at the time I wouldn’t say that was a huge shock (he was seeded eighth), although it’s much the best priced each-way return in recent years.
Personally, I’d go as far back as David Nalbandian in 2002 for a really surprising (at the time) men’s finalist at Wimbledon.
Qualifiers tend not to fare well here, as they generally don’t in slams, with the last man from the qualies to make the quarter finals here being a certain Bernard Tomic back in 2011.
Wimbledon men’s singles – top half
Novak Djokovic is going for his record-equalling 20th Grand Slam title this fortnight and looking at his draw it’s hard to see anyone other than perhaps Stefanos Tsitsipas stopping the Serb from making what would be a seventh Wimbledon final.
Djokovic will also have the ‘calendar slam’ in his sights after already bagging a rare French Open to go with the Australian Open that he wins most years and now he’s halfway to emulating Rod Laver’s 1969 achievement.
Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal won’t admit it, but clearly there’s a desire in all of them to win the most majors of this incredible era and should Djokovic win the calendar slam that would put the GOAT argument to bed once and for all.
And it’s hard to see anyone in Q1 bothering him too much, unless something bizarre (like the US Open default) happens, with Andrey Rublev perhaps the most likely player in the quarter to give the Serb a fright.
Rublev doesn’t strike me as a player that really thrives on grass and I can’t see him doing it, but who else is there in Q1 other than maybe Jannik Sinner?
Kevin Anderson’s body lets him down far too often these days and his best days look firmly behind him, while the same could be suggested about Gael Monfils and maybe Sinner can do something in this quarter.
Sinner lacks experience on grass, but I wouldn’t rule him out of possibly going on a run, but equally he could lose to Marton Fucsovics in round one.
A substantial amount of players in Q1 would class clay as their favourite surface and I won’t dwell too long on Q1 as Djokovic looks a cert to progress from it.
The second quarter is interesting though, with Stefanos Tsitsipas the obvious pick to win it, but he hasn’t played on grass at all since 2019 after pulling out of Halle following his French Open efforts.
Usually that might not be an issue, but Tsitsipas is quite inexperienced on grass and is just 8-7 win/loss at main level on the surface, despite seemingly having many of the attributes for grass.
He’s clearly a much-improved player since the 2019 grass swing when he lost as heavy favourite to Thomas Fabbiano in round one of Wimbledon, Felix Auger-Aliassime at Queen’s and Nicolas Jarry in Rosmalen.
But my worry with him is not only his lack of grass matches, but a possible hangover from a painful French Open final defeat against Djokovic from two sets up.
He put a ton of effort into the clay swing and for it to end like that must have hurt.
There’s every chance that he might not be fully ready for this and Frances Tiafoe is no gimme of a round one opponent in a major and he’s recently won Nottingham on grass, so that might be a potential upset.
Who could take advantage of an early Tsitsipas exit is another question and the most likely ones that might benefit include: Dan Evans, Alex De Minaur, Seb Korda, Denis Shapovalov, and Roberto Bautista Agut.
None have got easy round one draws, with De Minaur and Korda facing each other and Evans and Shapo taking on wily veterans Feli Lopez and Phillip Kohlschreiber, while RBA faces John Millman, who almost beat him at the 2019 Australian Open.
I don’t rate Andy Murray’s chances as highly as the layers do in this quarter, with the Brit having won only two main level matches since the 2020 US Open and with only one top-10 win since the 2017 French Open.
I do want to take Tsitsipas on here, so for me the value may lie with the 33-1 about Seb Korda.
As with a few we’ve had this grass swing, it’s a risky one, as Korda faces the Eastbourne finalist (at the time of writing) De Minaur, but I’m rarely overly impressed by De Minaur and Korda has the game to beat him.
He’s already beaten a similar type of opponent to the Aussie this grass season (Roberto Bautista Agut) and if Korda is on his game I’d give him every chance there and the rest of the quarter (Tsitsipas aside) doesn’t exactly look daunting.
Indeed, RBA is the second favourite behind Tsitsipas to win the quarter, so I’m happy to take a chance on Korda at what looks a fair price.
Wimbledon men’s singles – bottom half
I’ve mentioned a few times on various platforms that I took Matteo Berrettini a few months ago at just over 60-1 (each-way) and so I was obviously pleased to see the Italian drawn in the bottom half away from Djokovic.
To say the value has gone on him is an understatement though, with 12-1 the average price available on Berrettini now, which is surely way too short.
I also think that the man just ahead of him in the betting, Roger Federer is probably half the price he should be given his lack of matches in the last two years, a suspect knee, a 40th birthday soon and a level lately that’s nowhere near his best.
It would be undoubtedly one of the great sporting achievements of all time for me if Federer won this Wimbledon title and while I wouldn’t rule it out I’d want a much bigger price than 11-1.
Berrettini and Federer could meet in the semi finals in theory, but both Q3 and Q4 look pretty competitive and hard to call.
In Q3, Berrettini has dangerous opponents to negotiate in John Isner, Kei Nishikori, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Alexander Zverev, Aslan Karatsev, Taylor Fritz and Ugo Humbert and it’s far from certain that the Queen’s Club champ will make the last eight.
Isner could be a big danger and if I wasn’t already on Berrettini at that big price I’d be tempted to go with Isner in this section.
Karatsev and Casper Ruud are hampered by their inexperience on grass and perhaps Nishikori could do something in their mini-section if he gets past the dangerous Alexei Popyrin in round one.
The Zverev mini-section looks open as well, with the German, for me, vulnerable to the low bounce in the first week, but the opposition early on for him doesn’t look that strong.
Unless Taylor Fritz has made a remarkably swift comeback from injury the section looks rather mediocre, but perhaps Tennys Sandgren or Steve Johnson could stun Zverev if they have a good day.
More likely is the winner of the Auger-Aliassime/Humbert/Nick Kyrgios section will face Zverev and any of those would be a challenge for the German on this surface.
I’m surprised to see FAA rated so highly here, with the Canadian having a woeful record in big matches (0-8 in finals and zero sets won) and he has a lot to prove in terms of his self-belief for me.
Humbert, who beat FAA in Halle and at Wimbledon 2019 (lost to FAA in two tie breaks in Stuttgart) looks perhaps the most likely one to take on Zverev in a potential fourth round clash.
But overall, in Q3, I’m happy with my position on Berrettini and hopefully a few of you got on early on that one.
Quarter four is where we find Federer, then, and he’ll have the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Cam Norrie, Grigor Dimitrov, Marin Cilic, Sam Querrey and Hubert Hurkacz for company.
Round one for Federer may well be tricky against Adrian Mannarino, but you get the feeling that even if Manna gets into a winning position he’ll most likely fail to convert against Federer at Wimbledon.
Indeed, Fed may well find that his aura gets him through a few rounds and he may not have to play that well, but it’s a tall order for him to go on and win the whole thing.
Norrie surely won’t have the bottle to beat Fed on Centre Court (most likely Centre Court) so I can see Fed getting to the quarters, but I’d fancy Daniil Medvedev to beat the Swiss at that stage.
Indeed, if Medvedev overcomes the dangerous (see Halle) Jan-Lennard Struff in round one and the equally dangerous Cilic in round three he may well next have another tough one in Dimitrov, so the Russian would be battle-hardened by week two for sure.
I took a punt at 150s on Cilic during Stuttgart and that will be my back up now to Medvedev, who, for me, looks the only one (with the exception maybe of Tsitsipas) that’s likely to be able to topple Djokovic in this tournament.
The Russian has had a decent week (so far) in Mallorca and he’ll know how dangerous Struff can be (Struff is 1-10 win/loss against top-10 opponents in slams) so with his flat hitting perfect for grass I’d expect a strong challenge from him this fortnight.
Just two bets for me, then, and they are to chance Korda to win Q2 at 33s (Unibet) and Medvedev to win it at 9.4 (SBK) or 9.6 (at the time of writing and less deductions of course) on Betfair Exchange.
2 points win Medvedev to win at 9.4
1 point win Korda to win Q2 at 34.0