Wimbledon Fixes Draw
The Wimbledon Committee, in its infinite wisdom, has taken advantage of its unique seeding formula to rework the top of the men’s game, leading to significant changes in the draw. World No. 1 Rafael Nadal has been demoted to second seed while World No.2 Novak Djokovic has been bumped up to top seed. The real beneficiaries, however, was No. 5 Andy Murray, who leapfrogs both World No. 4 Roger Federer and World No.3 Stanislas Wawrinka into third seed, effectively ensuring his title defence campaign won’t be challenged by a top four player before the penultimate round. Arguably, the biggest loser is current World No.3 Stanislas Wawrinka, who’s been demoted to fifth seed. Roger Federer, meanwhile, remains seeded fourth.
Whether this is fair or not is a source of debate in tennis betting circles. After all, last year, when Nadal slipped in the rankings to World No. 5 ahead of the French Open, he received no favours from the Committee there as the seven-time champion, entering the draw exactly where his ranking said he should be, seeded fifth. Fact is Wimbledon is the only tournament that doesn’t seed according to rankings. Since 2001, they’ve adopted their own unique formula that takes rankings into consideration, but also fixes the seeding based on recent grass results.
Top seed Novak Djokovic is tipped as the favourite to win outright at +175 or thereabouts across sportsbooks, but the Serbian starlet has never looked less a favourite than he does now. Fitness and form appear to be an issue. He hasn’t played any warm-up events. And it’s still not clear whether he’s recovered full from his injury (wrist/elbow/arm?). Then there is his French Open disappointment to factor in, which could have a lingering effect – it’s the one slam to elude him yet and he failed (yet again) to nab that cherry earlier this month when he lost to Nadal in four sets. What’s more, there are personal distractions – wedding plans, imminent fatherhood to consider that could be taking the edge off his game.
That said Djokovic’s quarter is quite favourable with Pospisil, Youzhny, Tsonga in his immediate vicinity, and Berdych flanking the opposing end, with Gulbis, Verdasco and Cilic in the Czech’s immediate corner. Player to spot in this section is Ernests Gulbis (+5000), who beat Roger Federer en route to the French Open semis.
Andy Murray ranks as the second favourite to win Wimbledon at +350, and for the first time, in a very long time, he really does look the part of a top favourite. Murray’s form has been on a steady incline since returning from injury, shooting up to previously unseen heights over the course of the European clay-court swing. Murray was dumped by Radek Stepanek in the R16 of Queen’s Club, his recent grass warm-up event. But that shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. The British No.1 was flush off a semi-final appearance at the French Open, during which he was visibly stretched to the limit. He clearly wasn’t fully recovered at Queen’s Club, an event that follows immediately afterwards.
Murray should be fresh and raring to go at Wimby. His draw looks good in the early rounds, with only Kevin Anderson leaping off the page as a potential stumbling block in the fourth round. The quarters could see him come up against David Ferrer in the quarters, a dogged competitor but not a player that many would tip to win Wimbledon. Although Ferrer has won grass court titles in his career, he’s only ever reached the quarters at Wimbledon; hence, he’s a +10000 bet. The player to spot in this section is in-form Grigor Dimitrov, who won the title in Queen’s Club and is listed as a tempting +2000 bet to win his maiden Grand Slam title. Dimitrov could emerge in the quarters.
Rafael Nadal is matched at +450 to win Wimbledon this season. The Spaniard has reached four of the last five Grand Slam finals (since 2013 French Open), winning three of the four – 2013-2014 French Open and 2013 US Open. The only final he lost was the 2014 Australian Open final, which he lost to Stanislas Wawrinka in four sets, fighting valiantly despite a back injury. Given his track record of success at this level, he’s always one to consider on your tennis picks. That said Wimbledon hasn’t been kind to Nadal in recent years. Two years running, he’s crashed out of the early rounds. And his recent warm-up output – defeat to Dustin Brown in Halle – raises doubts about his ability to put forward a concerted run on the manicured lawns of the All England Club. As far as his draw is concerned, it’s littered with minefields: big servers such as Ivo Karlovic and Milos Raonic (+5000), as well, exciting Frenchman Gael Monfils (+20000), grass-guru Richard Gasquet (+15000) and dangerous floater Martin Klizan in the opening round.
Roger Federer rings in as the fourth favourite to win his beloved Wimbledon title at +550, a title he last won in 2012 when he beat Andy Murray in the final. Federer is coming off a seventh title in Halle, a feat that saw his odds for Wimbledon improve. He has a nice enough draw, drawing his compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka as a potential quarterfinal opponent. In his immediate section is a litter of players that are eminently beatable by Federer on a good day: Tommy Robredo, Marcel Granollers, Jerzy Janowicz and Julien Benneteau to name a few.
Meanwhile, Wawrinka (+2200) has some familiar foes in Dmitry Tursunov, Feliciano Lopez and John Isner to contend with potentially in the early rounds, all good grass court players but eminently beatable by on a good day as well. Problem with Stanislas, though, he’s still struggling with his newfound fame. Hard to say what to expect from him after his French Open ended prematurely.
In some respects, the Gentlemen’s Wimbledon appears to be wide-open for the first time in a long time. If Djokovic’s overall form is questionable, Nadal’s grass form isn’t up to his lofty standards and Federer’s slam form has come down in recent years, which of the favourites is the best tennis pick? Is it automatically Andy Murray, or should tennis bettors look at outsiders for their Wimbledon picks, such as Grigor Dimitrov, Ernests Gulbis or Milos Raonic to claim a maiden slam. Then again, don’t be surprised if we end up with tried and tested matchups in the semis: Djokovic vs. Murray and Nadal vs. Federer. We won’t complain, at least.