SO who should we be backing at Wimbledon? Mark Stinchcombe (@markstinchcombe) gives us his best bets from the Men’s draw.
Wimbledon Men’s Singles | 29th June – 12th July 2015 | BBC
World number one and reigning champion Novak Djokovic heads the Wimbledon betting as 7/5 favourite. On his least favourite surface, Djokovic has tasted grass court success just once in his last four grass majors, suffering defeats to Murray twice, in the 2013 final and 2012 Olympic semi-final, and against Roger Federer in the 2012 semi.
As usual Novak has played no competitive grass court matches since his French Open final defeat and begins with a very tough opener against Philipp Kohlschreiber who could easily have beaten eventual Halle champion Federer, losing in a final set tie-break.
The third round could hold Bernard Tomic, who’s won two of their five meetings and taken a set off Novak here before. The fourth round has the potential to be Queen’s runner up Kevin Anderson with a quarters meeting with Kei Nishikori or Marin Cilic likely. On top of this if you backed him in every match cumulatively last year, it would have paid 13/8, making the 7/5 look short.
In the other half of the draw is second favourite Andy Murray. Andy looks back to his best this year after back surgery at the end of 2013. He’s won 31 of his last 34 matches, made the final of the Australian Open and semi of the French as well as winning Queen’s last week and picking up his first clay court titles in Madrid and Munich.
Overall he’s 46-6 for the year with four of those defeats at the hands of Djokovic. Most significantly, last month in Madrid was the first time since 2013 he’d recorded back-to-back wins over the Top 10.
Murray’s draw looks pretty reasonable to me. He opens against Mikhail Kukushkin who he’s beaten in both meetings and was comprehensively beaten by a now weaker grass courter in Rafael Nadal by 14 games here last year. Next up is Robin Haase or Alejandro Falla, both of whom Andy has dealt with before, indeed he has beaten the former at three majors over the last few years.
Andreas Seppi potentially awaits in the third round who Andy has beaten six times in a row without dropping a set. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga could be a fourth round opponent with Murray winning their last four on the grass.
David Ferrer or Nadal are quarter final candidates. Andy has beaten Ferrer in their only meeting here and clearly Rafa is not the player he once was, suffering early exits in the last three years here.
A semi-final match up with Federer is on the cards, 1-1 between the two on grass, although that 2012 defeat might have been different had the roof not been closed half-way through. If the final is contested between Murray and Djokovic, you would have to side with Andy on the grass given Novak’s aforementioned defeats to him here.
Roger Federer goes into the tournament as third favourite at 7/1. Finalist last year, Halle champion and of course seven time Wimbledon champion. Federer has won just one of the last six grass court majors here, with losses to Djokovic, Murray, Tomas Berdych, Tsonga and Sergiy Stakhovsky. Of course that could be zero with the previous alluded to 2012 final.
The Swiss star is nearly 34 years of age and I think it will be a big ask to win here over the best of five. He’s playing a lot of tie-breaks nowadays, all but one of his matches featured a breaker in Halle, and despite winning them all, I think it will be difficult to keep that up.
Big servers Sam Querrey, Jack Sock and Sam Groth are all in Roger’s section and all could give him trouble if they serve well. You only have to look at Stakhovsky’s 6-7 7-6 7-5 7-6 victory in the 2nd round here in 2013 to see that.
French Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka has never performed well here, only once making the quarter-finals with five first round exits. His one handed backhand is not suited to the quick grass leaving him not enough time to swing back before the shot.
Two time champion and five time finalist Rafael Nadal goes off at what could be perceived as a huge 22/1. However, injuries are beginning to catch up with him and his dodgy knees have caused him trouble on this surface. As mentioned he’s suffered early exits here in the last three years and has already experienced more defeats this year than he did in the whole of last year.
Victory in Stuttgart should have helped his confidence, but he followed that up with a disappointing first round defeat to Alexandr Dolgopolov despite being 4-2 up in the final set, going on to lose four straight games. Something that would have been inconceivable a few years ago.
2010 finalist Tomas Berdych hasn’t made it past the quarters since and has failed to win any of his last eight completed matches this year against the top 10.
Milos Raonic’s serve is a big weapon here but that can only get him so far with his return game letting him down. He made the semi last year but lost in straights to Federer. After returning from foot surgery, in which he missed the French Open due to, he lost as 3/10 fav against Gilles Simon after dropping sets in both of his previous matches at Queen’s.
Another of last year’s semi-finalist’s Grigor Dimitrov has had a very disappointing year. He’s won just 19 matches this year (he won 50 last year) and suffered a disappointing straight sets defeat in just the second round to Gilles Muller when defending his Queen’s title.
Nishikori has never been comfortable here, only making the fourth round once and suffering three first round exits. He also comes into this having had to retire with a calf injury earlier this week in Halle.
Two time semi-finalist Tsonga could be a threat but with a potential fourth round meeting with Andy Murray on the cards and having played no grass court matches (withdrew from three tournaments because of an abdominal strain), he is one to swerve.
Nick Kyrgios caused waves here last year coming from nowhere to take out Nadal before losing to Raonic in the quarters. His main weapon in his big serve was nullified in Paris with a persistent elbow injury that is still causing him trouble with him exiting Queen’s at the first round stage. Indeed Wawrinka, Raonic, Dimitrov and Kyrgios are all in the second quarter and we might see a surprise semi-finalist from the rest of the pack.
One man who I think is overpriced however, is US Open champion Marin Cilic. Former Queen’s champion and finalist, Cilic took Djokovic to five in the quarters here last year. Another potential quarter final with Novak could be on the cards if he can negotiate his section.
A third round match up against John Isner should hold no fear with Cilic having won all five of their meetings including on grass, and a potential fourth round re-match of last year’s US Open final with Nishikori looks winnable as the Japanese has never been past that stage. As short as 40/1 in places, 100/1 looks well worth an investment each-way. With his big serve and raking ground strokes, he could be a threat.
Wimbledon Men’s Singles – Andy Murray (3/1 Paddy Power)
Wimbledon Men’s Singles – Marin Cilic each way (100/1 Sportingbet)
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