Next week, Wimbledon 2018 will get underway as the crown jewel of the short grass season in tennis takes place at the All England Club once again. It will be the 132nd tournament contested since the first began back in 1877 and for many UK tennis fans, it is the two weeks of the year when they really get behind our best British professionals in the hope of them securing a win.
As always, the start of a tennis major always precipitates a large number of bets being made on the event and with this taking place in the UK, you can be sure that UK punters will be looking at which British player represents the best value bet to go far at Wimbledon this year. So, with odds provided by bet365 Sport, we are going to take a look at the chances of the top British prospects this year.
First though, let’s take a look through the history of how British players have performed at Wimbledon over the years, though for British tennis fans, it does make somewhat painful reading.
Brits at Wimbledon – Women’s Championships
From 1884, up until 1914, British players won all but two of the women’s championships (May Sutton winning for the United States in 1905 and 1907), but after the first World War British victories were few and far between.
Kitty McKane won in 1924 and then Dorothy Round won twice in 1934 and 1937 before the next hiatus in competition due to the Second World War. When the tournament began again in 1946, up until the Open Era in 1968, there was only one British winner, Angela Mortimer who won the title in 1961.
Since the Open Era, only two British women have won Wimbledon, Ann Jones in 1969 and then Virginia Wade in 1977. Indeed, since Wade’s victory, no British female player has reached the final. Johanna Konta’s semi-final spot in 2017 being the best performance since.
Since 1924, just five British women have won Wimbledon, in contrast Martina Navratilova has won nine singles titles (and 20 in total including all forms of doubles) alone.
This year Jo Konta will be back to try and go one better than the semifinals this time around and Heather Watson, though not priced to win at Bet365, should also take part. Several other British girls are also attempting to qualify for the first round, but their chances of making it very far in the tournament look slim.
Best Odds for British Female players (with bet365)
- Johanna Konta – 22/1
- Heather Watson – Price on request
Can any of the British Ladies win it?
In truth, I think Jo Konta has the best chance of any British player to do well in the singles tournament this year and that is despite her having had something of a mixed season so far. Konta reached the semis last year, losing to Venus Williams and became the first British female player to do so since Virginia Wade in 1978.
Konta’s helped by a very open draw in the female game at the moment with a lot of similar ability players in the top 30. So much so, that on any given day, top players can be beaten by lower ranked opponents.
However, Konta will need to produce her best tennis to match her performance of last year and she has only looked like doing so on fleeting occasions this season. Not ideal preparation heading into Wimbledon, but like many British players, she can be inspired by the crowd to perform better than her current form suggests.
I can’t say that Konta at 22/1 is a certain to win the event, but I think a cautious each way punt on Konta is worth a look. Heather Watson I think has the ability to perhaps get to the third or fourth round, but I would be surprised if she lasted any longer in the tournament than that.
Brits at Wimbledon – Men’s Championships
From 1877 to 1906, British players won every Wimbledon tournament, but in the pre war years, players from other countries began to win, namely Australia and New Zealand. After the first World War, the next British success came in 1934 with the first of Fred Perry’s three victories.
From then on, it was a dearth of success for British men at Wimbledon and so poor did British players perform that it became a standing joke that all British players would likely be out of the tournament come the second week through the 70s and 80s. That changed with the emergence of Tim Henman and Greg Rusdeski, with the former reaching the semi-final on four occasions but never quite reaching the final.
British fans 79-year wait for a champion ended in 2013 when Andy Murray, following on from his Olympic Gold on the courts of Wimbledon at London 2012, claimed his first Wimbledon title over Novak Djokovic and then the Scot repeated the feat in 2016 with a three-set win over Milos Raonic.
This year though Murray is still recovering from a lengthy spell out with injury and will likely not be in top shape for this championships, putting added pressure on the two other Brits ranked inside the top 100 hoping to shine, Kyle Edmund and Cameron Norrie.
Best Odds for British Male players (with bet365)
- Andy Murray – 12/1
- Kyle Edmund – 80/1
- Cameron Norrie – Price on Request
Can any of the British men win it?
If he was on top form and fully fit and healthy, then there is no doubt in my mind that Andy Murray would be the most serious threat to Roger Federer winning a ninth Wimbledon title out of all the other male players competing. However the Scot has spent a lengthy spell out recovering from an operation on a long-standing injury and he has only really begun playing competitively over the last couple of weeks.
That lack of action, especially heading into a Grand Slam where all the matches are over five-sets, could well be a huge hindrance to the Scot, so much so that I would be hugely surprised if he managed to make it into the second week, or if he did not have to retire with a niggle caused by the exertion of playing so many games.
Therefore, Britain’s best hope in the men’s draw may be Kyle Edmund who reached the US Open semifinals last year. Edmund has a powerful serve and volley game but he isn’t quite at the level of the players inside the top ten and certainly not on par with Roger Federer. Edmund could reach the quarters here, but that’s as far as I see him going.
Cameron Norrie is an interesting one as he has emerged onto the scene in recent times and has notched up some good wins, however he doesn’t seem suited to grass court tennis and again, I’d be surprised if he reaches the second week of Wimbledon.
For me, if you want to pick a winner in the men’s event, then there’s only one pick and that is to back Roger Federer at 7/4 to win his ninth Wimbledon title.