TENNIS analyst Gavin Mair (@gavinnightmair) shares his best bets ahead of an eagerly anticipated Wimbledon.
He outlines his picks for the outright winner of the esteemed tournament and runs you through his thinking.
Wimbledon Championships | BBC
It’s that time of the year. Strawberries, cream, Pimms and Serena Williams winning Wimbledon…
Except, that won’t be happening this year. Williams is expecting the birth of her first child and will not be winning an 8th singles championship.
Without Serena on the tour, there is anarchy in women’s tennis. According to ELO rankings compiled by tennis data analyst Jeff Sackman, had Serena been playing she would have a 60% chance of winning Wimbledon again.
Last month Jelena Ostapenko emphasised the moment for opportunity when she won the French Open title at odds of 100/1. (Welovebetting.co.uk saw that one coming, by backing Ostapenko to win her quarter at 16/1.)
Rivals out of sorts
Serena’s historic rivals look to be in no position to take advantage of her absence.
There is no Maria Sharapova who has only recently returned to tour from a deserved drug ban. Serena’s older sister Venus comes into the event ‘devastated and heartbroken’ having been at the wheel of a car that caused the death of an elderly man in Florida less than a month ago, whilst Victoria Azarenka has played only two matches since giving birth to her first child in December.
Meanwhile, her modern rivals have their own problems.
Two-time champion Petra Kvitova has played only a couple of events since being stabbed by an intruder in her Prague apartment at the start of the year. Kvitova did win a Premier event in Birmingham last weekend but promptly withdrew from Eastbourne with an abdominal injury. Garbine Muguruza and Angelique Kerber who defeated Serena en route to Grand Slam success last year are short of form and confidence. Simona Halep comes into Wimbledon with a massive hangover having blown a set and 3/0 lead against Ostapenko in the Paris final.
Those who regularly read my WeLoveBetting.co.uk outright previews, will know that I have already backed two players for outright Wimbledon success.
Coco Vandeweghe is an American player with a cocky character and a big game tailor-made for grass. She blasted Johanna Konta off the court for the loss of only four games in Birmingham before outplaying former Wimbledon finalist Garbine Muguruza. Vandeweghe retired in that match but I understand that to be a precautionary decision. Coco has added former Wimbledon
champion Pat Cash to her coaching staff, has top-level statistics on this surface, and has made improvements across the board in 2017. Vandeweghe can be backed at a meaty 22/1 with William Hill.
The other player I backed before the draw was made is Karolina Pliskova. The big-hitting Czech landed our 11/2 outright bet in Eastbourne last week and is coached by David Kotyza, who helped Petra Kvitova to her two Wimbledon titles.
Pliskova deserves to be the favourite, but she was a slightly bigger price when I backed her. Obviously, I believe in her chances, but when you consider a difficult draw and that she has never been beyond the second round here her current price looks skinny. Pliskova can be backed at 5/1 with Paddy Power.
Last week we had a great return for our outright bets, winning a 6/1 bet on Wozniacki to win her quarter, in addition to our success with Pliskova. I am now 119 units up for the season – you can track my progress here – https://gavinnightmair.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/atpwta-tennis-market-outright-tracker/ Using the same methods lets find where the value lies this week.
2016 finalist Angelique Kerber is still number one and heads the draw. However, she has been unable to find last year’s level and I doubt that she will go deep this week.
The seeds in this quarter look weak, and there is an opportunity for a player that is under the radar to take full advantage. Kiki Bertens is no grass court player, whilst Muguruza is all over the place right now. Agnieszka Radwanska has been hopeless for months, and Timea Bacsinszky’s serve gets battered too easily on grass. Lauren Davis is a low-quality grass court player and her seeding of 21 flatters her abilities. Svetlana Kuznetsova is a volatile player with two first-round exits here in the past five years.
That leaves only one seed, and it is the player I think offers value to make the semi-finals. Lucie Safarova did exactly that in 2014, and last year she made it to the 4th round despite a lack of form and fitness. Her grass court form has been strong making the semis in both Birmingham and Nottingham. At 9/1 with BetVictor, it is Safarova who looks a reasonable option to advance.
Unfortunately, the 2nd quarter holds both of my outright selections.
As mentioned previously I do not see much value in Pliskova winning the title at her current price, and the same goes for her advancing from a very tricky draw.
I have already detailed why Vandeweghe is a good selection, and she is a high price just to make the semi-final at 15/2 with 10Bet. At that price, it is worth a play.
Also in this quarter is a player with great potential and that won the s’Hertogenbosch singles title a few weeks ago. That player is Anett Kontaveit and I wish she had been drawn in a different quarter where she would have had a great opportunity to make a deep run.
I rate Kontaveit highly and it would not surprise me if she upset one of Karolina Pliskova or Coco Vandeweghe early on. Kontaveit is 10/1 with SkyBet to win the quarter, but as I have backed the other two I will personally leave her alone. I would not discourage anybody from choosing her though.
Had it not been for Venus Williams off court nightmare I think she is easily the best option to come out of this quarter. Your guess is as good as mine as to where her head is at.
There is no obvious candidate to take advantage from this section as again it contains plenty of seeded players surrounded by doubts.
Dominika Cibulkova is extremely off form and her grass season so far does not suggest a good run this fortnight. Ana Konjuh is a player I like and would probably have backed at her current 20/1 price, but she retired the last week with a back injury and that puts me off her. Barbora Strycova has a strong grass court game, but she has a habit of failing to rise to the occasion and I don’t see her luck suddenly turning for the better.
Jelena Ostapenko should be in good spirits after her Roland Garros win, but it is not probable that she follows up that major success with another so soon. Madison Keys is a great grass court player but wrist surgery following the French Open surely scuppers her chances this year.
Elina Svitolina was the favourite to win the French Open, but she is an injury doubt and has yet to impress on this surface. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni finds herself seeded due to a deep Australian Open run but she has not come close to matching that form since.
It is also hard to pick a player to make the semis from the non-seeds. Ashleigh Barty looks the player most likely to make a run of players in that category. Barty is a crafty player on grass but she strikes me as a nervous character and I don’t think she has the experience to win a big match at this stage of her career.
Sabine Lisicki can also be found in this section and she has a great Wimbledon record. Lisicki has very little tennis under her belt, and her recent results at SW19 have been good but not good enough to suggest she will make a run. Carina Witthoeft is a good prospect and recently made the quarterfinals at s’Hertogenbosch. Whilst there is potential in the German, I don’t
already see a Wimbledon semifinalist. Naomi Osaka will be dangerous if she gets to grips with grass but there have not been many signs of that happening.
I am struggling to pull the trigger on any player to win this quarter.
2011 and 2014 champion Petra Kvitova is the favourite to advance through this quarter, but doubts over her fitness as well as early exits in the past two years give enough of a reason to oppose her.
Home hope Johanna Konta has played very well in the past couple of weeks but she withdrew from Eastbourne last week with a spinal injury, and her Wimbledon form is poor.
Simona Halep is a former semi-finalist at Wimbledon, however, her confidence can’t be too high after her recent failure to win the French Open. That said, she knows her way around a grass court and if she finds a strong enough mindset I like her chances of going deep this fortnight. Halep can leave this tournament as World Number 1 and in this part of the draw, she has every chance of doing that. Halep to win the quarter is 8/1 with 10Bet.
In terms of an outsider, you’d be hard pushed to find somebody with a better case than Anastasija Sevastova. The Latvian is an unfashionable player but her results speak for themselves. She won Mallorca two weeks ago, has some very solid grass court performance stats, yet finds herself at 33/1 to win this quarter. At the same time, I understand why there is a reluctance to select Sevastova who is all substance over style.
Karolina Pliskova 5/1 Paddypower
Coco Vandeweghe 22/1 William Hill
Lucie Safarova to win Quarter 1 9/1 BetVictor
Coco Vandeweghe to win Quarter 2 15/2 10Bet
Simona Halep to win Quarter 4 8/1 10Bet