On Monday 23rd June, the third of this year’s tennis Grand Slam events will kick off in London as the All England Tennis Championships, better known as Wimbledon, serves up two weeks of top tennis action.
Last year was a historic year for British Tennis as Andy Murray claimed the first men’s singles title win by a British male tennis player for 77 years. It was 77 years after Fred Perry’s win in 1936 before Murray added another British success and this came hot on the heels of his success at the same venue at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Marian Bartoli was the surprise women’s champion, gaining some solace after her loss in the final six years previously to Venus Williams. It was her first Grand Slam title in 47 attempts and yet just two months after her Wimbledon triumph, Bartoli announced that she was retiring from the sport aged 28, meaning that she will not be back to defend her title.
Let’s learn a little more about this year’s men’s and women’s singles events before we take a look at which players are our top tips for success on the grass at the All England Championships this year.
Wimbledon men’s singles
So far this year we have seen Stanislas Wawrinka break his Grand Slam duck at the Australian Open in surprising and sensational fashion and then we watched in awe as Rafael Nadal proved his mastery on clay with his ninth victory at Roland Garros on a surface where he is almost unbeatable.
Wimbledon however heralds the focal point of the short, but no-less important grass season and with players taking to the courts at Queens Club, Halle and other grass court championships across Europe in preparation, it is a big adjustment to make from the slower surface of clay, onto the slick, lower-bouncing grass court. After reaching the final in Paris, where he was a gallant loser against Nadal, Novak Djokovic is the bookmakers clear favourite for this years men’s title.
The Serb was runner up last year and hasn’t won a Grand Slam title since the Australian Open of 2013. Although he had targeted the French Open, Djokovic’s game is better suited to grass where his natural power and athleticism make him a natural favourite.
Other competitors in with a chance according to the bookies are British ace Andy Murray, who has not lost at Wimbledon since the 2012 final when Roger Federer defeated him. Murray has since won Olympic Gold in 2012 and the 2013 Championships at the All England Club and with a partisan home crowd roaring him on, could he complete an unlikely double of back-to-back Wimbledon triumphs?
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are both 4-1 shots, Nadal, imperious on clay, doesn’t have the best record on grass and has suffered a couple of ignominious early exits from the tournament, although he is a previous winner too. Federer’s a grass court legend and this tournament arguably gives his fading star the best chance of what would possibly be a last Grand Slam victory.
Outsiders for the title include Federer’s Davis Cup team mate Stanislas Wawrinka, the new Queens Club Champion Grigor Dimitrov, big serving Jerzy Janowicz (a semi finalist last year) plus Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Tomas Berdych, Milos Raonic and the in-form Ernests Gulbis.
If you are looking for a winner then while Djokovic is a solid choice, his odds are too short in my view for a player who has not won a Grand Slam event for 18 months. Andy Murray hasn’t beaten a top 10 player for a considerable amount of time and Federer’s star is fading, which to me makes Rafael Nadal at 4/1 the outstanding bet here.
The Spaniard is in outstanding form, he’s the current world number one and he has a score to settle after a couple of less than impressive years for him (mainly due to injury) at the tournament.
For an outside each way bet as a finalist, depending on the seedings, Grigor Dimitrov (20/1), a winner at Queens at the weekend, is a great option at 20/1. The young Bulgarian played some sublime tennis to win his first grass title and he could be a really tough obstacle in whatever half of the draw he is placed in.
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Wimbledon women’s singles
There’s no surprise that Serena Williams is the odds on favourite for Wimbledon this year. The powerful American has the perfect power game for grass and her very short odds of 6/5 reflect this, however as previous years at the tournament have shown, even the hot favourites can fall by the wayside.
Indeed, women’s tennis is in a real state of flux at the moment with several top stars likely to consider themselves as in with a chance. Maria Sharapova, fresh from her French Open win is a tempting 5/1 shot, while the vastly improved Simona Halep is a 10/1 shot, though this isn’t a surface that she is likely to thrive on.
Other notable players worth a closer look include Victoria Azarenka (8/1), Petra Kvitova (11/1), Na Li (12/1), Eugenie Bouchard (14/1) and last years beaten finalist Sabine Lisicki (16/1). Lisicki in particular has an outstanding record at Wimbledon and is one of the favourites of the fans who flock to the Championships each year. Yet outside this group there are other potential winners, as Marian Bartoli proved last year.
Muguruza (16/1), Radwanska (20/1), Stephens (22/1), Kerber (33/1), Stosur (40/1) and Ivanovic also 40/1 also cannot be discounted as potential winners.
The women’s singles title will no doubt be closely fought out and there are, in my view, a higher number of potential winners, which means that if you are seeking some great value betting on the win or each way market, then this may be a better option than the men’s market, which tends to be dominated by four players.
As we stated previously, the women’s singles is definitely a more open contest than the mens and it is conceivable that any one of 10-20 women could lift the trophy. Certainly, you would have got very long odds on predicting a Bartoli – Lisicki final as we had last year.
With Bartoli not back to defend her title having retired just a couple of months after winning Wimbledon, this opens the market up further and while Serena Williams is the 6/5 favourite, her recent form doesn’t reflect those short odds and I am not convinced she is in the strongest physical shape heading into Wimbledon.
As such, I like the look of a former winner of this event, Petra Kvitova at 11/1 as a potential winner. She has the game to win on grass and has generally performed very well at Wimbledon, reaching at least the quarter finals in the last four years and winning in 2011.
As a great each way bet, I’d back American Sloane Stephens. She has been a little inconsistent this year but she reached the quarter finals last year at Wimbledon and has improved every year she has played in the event. She has the game to really trouble the top players on grass and at 22/1, she is a great each way bet.