The Usual Suspects
Bookmakers serve up the usual suspects as the favourites in ATP Wimbledon outright betting odds: Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer (in that order) make up the top four favourites to win Wimbledon 2014, all priced under +500 futures odds, or thereabouts depending on your sportsbook of choice. Based on Wimby titles alone, the order may seem unnatural. But it isn’t, really. Considering that over the last five years, Djokovic and Murray (both with one Wimby) have been the two most consistent players at the All England Club and, even, collided in the final last year, it’s only fitting that they would lead the Wimbledon market. Therefore, the Serbian leads the charge on +175 odds, while defending champion Murray closely follows on +300 odds.
The tandem of Nadal (2 Wimbys) and Federer (7 Wimbys) round out the bookmakers’ top four picks, both delicately nestled on +400 odds.
Djokovic has won The Championships just once, 2011 Wimbledon. Nonetheless, he emerges as the top favourite to win the 2014 title. Underscoring Djokovic’s odds are several things, including a solid season and good form. At Wimbledon, Djokovic is 38-8 lifetime with one title, but he has made the quarterfinals or better since 2009. Most recently, he was the 2013 runner-up (l. to Andy Murray), and semi-finalist in 2012 (l. to Roger Federer, the eventual champion).
Andy Murray, the defending champion, rings in as the second favourite at +300. Murray boasts a 37-7 record at the event. In 2008, he reached the quarterfinals for the first time in his career; and, since 2009, he’s made the semis or better. Last year, the British No.1 finally won his first Wimbledon title, marking an extra special occasion in British history that ended the nation’s 76-year title drought. For the most part, Murray’s not the top favourite to successfully defend his title because he’s still not quite 100% fit after back surgery last year. He looks to be getting there, though, if his form during the clay swing is anything to go by. Clearly, then, inasmuch as his fitness may be a question mark, he’s still favoured ahead of Nadal and Federer in Wimbledon betting markets, and that is telling, to say the least.
Speaking of Rafael Nadal, the Spaniard is just after making history again: winning a record ninth Roland Garros to equal Pete Sampras on 14 overall Grand Slam titles. Both accoutrements could inspire a winning campaign on grass. Nadal won the 2008 and 2010 Championships; until today, the former ranks as one of the best finals in the history of the sport, in which he beat Roger Federer in an epic five-setter, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-7(8), 9-7. In the latter, he defeated Novak Djokovic 4-6, 1-6, 6-1, 3-6. The last two seasons, however, have seen Nadal stumble in the early rounds. In 2012, Nadal was defeated by Lukas Rosol in the R64 7-6(9), 4-6, 4-6, 6-2, 4-6; the match proved to be his last that season, as the Spaniard was sidelined with knee tendinitis for seven months. In 2013, after winning a record eighth French Open title, Nadal crossed the Channel full of hope, only to take his worst-ever defeat at a Grand Slam, a first round loss to an unheralded player, No.135 Steve Darcis, 6-7(4), 6-7(8), 4-6. Nadal (36-7 at Wimbledon) will certainly look to be competitive this year at Wimbledon, not just to make up for his recent disappointing accounts, but because he’s just that kind of a player. A disappointing clay-court season by his lofty standards saw him fall out of favour in French Open betting markets. Yet, the Spaniard defied the odds to clobber his way to another French Open title. The title was Nadal’s fifth in a row and ninth overall in Paris, and it was his 14th overall Slam, which lifts him up to second on the all-time list, behind Roger Federer (17).
Invariably, as Nadal is discounted, he counts up another sensational result. It almost seems inevitable: to underestimate him is at your peril. Buoyed by his recent French Open victory, which proved naysayers wrong, don’t count out Nadal on your tennis picks, if that is your inclination. For that matter, don’t count out Roger Federer either. Already winner of seven Wimbys, Federer is gunning for an eighth on his beloved grass and, of the lot, he enters The Championships the freshest of the faves, having played the least. To be the least favoured of the top four favourites, both figuratively and literally, seems twisted. Fact is, though, Federer last won at the All England Club in 2012, which also marks his last Grand Slam title, entirely. What’s more, last year, Federer suffered his worst loss ever, a second round defeat to Sergiy Stakhovsky 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 5-7, 6-7(5). It was the first time in eleven years that Federer failed to advance into the quarters or better (he’s 67-8 lifetime at Wimbledon).
After the usuals suspects, Stanislas Wawrinka emerges as the next best tennis pick. However, at +1000 to win outright, he’s a distant fifth favourite to win. Since winning the Australian Open earlier this year, Wawrinka has been largely inconsistent, oscillating from tournament to tournament on dubious performances. Granted, he did win Monte Carlo this year. But that was a blip. The burden of expectation is proving to be too much for the Swiss, and odds makers finally seem to have cottoned on, pricing him appropriately amongst the pretenders, which include Jo Wilfried Tsonga on +2500 odds, Jerzy Janowicz on +2800 odds and Tomas Berdych on +3300.
Outsiders to spot
If there were any outsiders to spot, they would come in the form of some of the ATP’s young guns that are looking to crash the Big Four hegemony. Those include Milos Raonic +3300, Grigor Dimitrov +3300 and Ernests Gulbis +6600, all big servers and big hitters that could do some damage on grass.
Early Wimbledon betting Verdict: While it’s intriguing to contemplate surprise, upset at Wimbledon this year, it’s hard to look beyond the Big Four when they’ve all factored there significantly in recent years; that is, save for last year when both Nadal and Federer fell early. In any event, one or the other has hoisted the trophy on Centre Court since 2003. More likely, than not, one or the other will reign supreme yet again.