It’s been a long season and there’s little
doubt who’s been the big winner on the courts across 2011. The big question in London this week is, can
Novak Djokovic round off his near perfect year in style or will it be one of
the other bug guns who fires the final bullet?
All of the World’s top 4 players will be
competing in London
this week but they arrive in the English Capital in varying states.
Roger Federer appears to be the man in
form, both in terms of his recent success and his fitness. Back-to-back
tournament wins in Basel and Paris have ensured Federer will come into
this one as the tennis odds makers’ favourite and it’s very difficult to argue
against the sportsbooks conclusions. Federer won this tournament impressively last
year, easily defeating Murray,
Djokovic and Nadal. If Federer’s recent brilliant form continues at the O2
Arena, the Swiss irresistible force could easily have enough in his locker to
ensure he maintains a tight grip on this trophy for another 12 months.
Roger Federer - Winner Odds – 15/8
British No.1 Andy Murray is still to win
this event but the tennis handicappers price him up as the second favourite,
playing on home soil. Andy has played a lot of tennis since the end of the US
Open in September and having only lost one match during that run, he has been
playing right through until the final Sunday of all events and picking up a
handful of titles. The Scot did look a little jaded in Paris last week and certainly wasn’t 100%
fit, when letting slip a one set lead against Berdych.
His record against David Ferrer should
ensure the World No.4 grabs a victory in the opening match and I don’t see him
losing again to Berdych, providing injury hasn’t taken hold by the time they
should then make it through to a semi-final, but I don’t see him having enough
to make it through two tough weekend challenges to win the event, especially if
he comes up against his perennial party pooper, Roger Federer.
Andy Murray - Winner Odds – 13/5
Rafa Nadal comes into this event having
missed a month through injury and not won an event since he defeated Roger
Federer in the final of the French Open back in June.
Indoor hard courts are never the Spaniard’s
favourite surface and following a miserable debut in London, two years ago, Rafa did battle
through to the final last year, before being completely outclassed by Federer.
I feel that last year, Nadal arrived at the
O2 full of confidence and 100% focussed on winning an event which not many
believed he could win. This year, he comes in low on confidence, low on
fitness, and with half an eye on the Davis Cup Final which takes place in a couple of weeks time.
Rafa can defeat Mardy Fish in his opener,
but it’s not a given. He’ll then come up against Tsonga and Federer, both of
whom will fancy their chances.
It may never be wise to write off the World
No.2’s chances in any event, but for me, it wouldn’t be a tennis bet I’d be
wanting to place this week.
Rafa Nadal – Winner Odds – 5/1
It would have been unlikely to believe,
when Djokovic secured his third Grand Slam victory of the year in New York that
he would be priced up by the tennis handicappers at around 4/1 to take the
season ending title here in London. But following a shoulder injury which saw
him miss around eight weeks of action, followed by a dismal defeat to Nishikori
in Basel and a withdrawal at the quarter-final stage in Paris, it’s easy to see
why this isn’t the most obvious tennis gamble to be taking this week.
It’s a very tricky one. Djokovic may know
his body isn’t in a good enough state to give him a chance this week, but he
would likely still play and do his best before enjoying a good recuperation
period in the close season.
However, Novak looked good in Paris last week and the feeling is he could have gone on
to play in the Paris quarters, but may have been
jeopardising his chances of competing in London.
I feel the current World No.1 and
outstanding player of 2011 will leave everything on the courts this week and
will be all out for victory to cap off a perfect season.
At these odds, the Serb has to be the bet
of the week. Injury and fatigue may well take their toll in the final weekend,
but there won’t be odds like this around then, so take them now and see where
the Serbinator can take you.
Novak Djokovic – Winner Odds – 4/1
David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried
Tsonga and Mardy Fish make up the remainder of the eight men battling for glory
at the O2.
Ferrer and Berdych are likely going to
struggle in a group which puts them up against Djokovic and Murray, and even if
one of these men, probably Berdych, did manage to sneak through to the semis,
there’s very little chance they would then go on to victory.
In the other group, Mardy Fish could do
very well against Rafa Nadal on Sunday and at 4/1 to beat the Spaniard on
Sunday evening, they could be odds worth looking at. I don’t think Fish can go
all the way though and wouldn’t see him taking anything from Federer or Tsonga
in his final two group games.
Tsonga is the most likely man, away from
the top four, to snatch some glory in London.
He reached the final in Paris
last week and despite being blown away by Federer in the opening set, the home
favourite did have his chances to take the second set, before eventually going
down in the tie-break.
He’ll be full of confidence ahead of this
one and will be itching to have another shot at Federer.
One tip as far as Tsonga is concerned
though. If you are planning on backing the Frenchman, it could be worth holding
on until after his match with Federer on Sunday. If, as expected, he loses that
match, he will still have every opportunity to qualify for the semis against
Nadal and Fish, but his odds will drift significantly and could be great value.
Jo-Wifried Tsonga – 18/1
Tomas Berdych – 22/1
David Ferrer – 80/1
Mardy Fish – 80/1