The intelligent punter's guide to Wimbledon 2014
Should you bet on Andy Murray do it again? At 4-1, they're not bad odds
Last year it was game, set and match to our Intelligent Punter’s Guide to Wimbledon when we recommended bets on the men’s singles winner Andy Murray at 4-1 and identified Sabine Lisicki, the 80-1 shot who reached the women’s final, as one of the best outsiders in the tournament.
Who are the ace tips this year?
The first thing to bear in mind when backing the men is the domination of the so-called Big Four in the tennis Grand Slams - Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray. Between them they have won 35 of the last 37 Grand Slams.
Last year’s finalists, Murray and Djokovic, are on the same side of the draw this year and are therefore likely to meet in the semi-final. The winner of that would be warmly fancied to land the title.
The women’s game by contrast has been more open. The last 37 Grand Slams have been won by 14 different players.
So, for a ‘win’ bet it's best to stick to the Big Four in the men’s singles, but it’s worth spreading your net a little wider in the women’s. Don’t go for a complete outsider to win, however: no player seeded lower than 23 has ever taken the women's title.
Previous Wimbledon form is also a big plus when drawing up our shortlist. Andy Murray, last year’s men’s winner, had been beaten in the final the year before and had made the semi-final in the three previous years.
Last year’s women’s singles winner, Marion Bartoli, may have been a 150-1 shot but she had reached the final in 2007. Every winner of the women’s singles title since 2004 had reached at least a semi-final in a previous tournament.
Now let’s take a closer look at the top 12 seeds, plus some outsiders who could make good each-way bets:
NOVAK DJOKOVIC (Seeded 1). Best odds: 2-1. The 2011 winner was beaten by Andy Murray in last year’s final and has now lost five of his last six Grand Slam finals. However, he, has reached at least the semi-final at Wimbledon in the last four years and it’s hard to see him not achieving at least that this time. If he does meet Murray at that point, can he reverse last year’s result? His new coach/mentor Boris Becker, a three times Wimbledon winner, could just tip the balance.
RAFAEL NADAL (2). Best odds: 5-1. Dual Wimbeldon winner who comes here in great form having won his ninth French Open. But while he obviously has the ability to win again, his odds don't look over generous considering his vulnerability these days on grass and the fact that he hasn’t got past the second round in the last two years.
ANDY MURRAY (3). Best odds: 4-1. Since he made his Wimbledon debut in 2005 and got to the third round, Murray has at least matched his previous best performance in every year he’s played - which would suggest that he’ll win again. That said, if he does meet Djokovic in the semi-final there are grounds for believing that the Serb is likely to prove a tougher opponent than he was in the final 12 years ago. Even so, 4-1 for a defending champion who has home advantage and who has reached the last two finals aren't bad odds.
ROGER FEDERER (4). Best odds: 11-2. The draw has been kind to the seven-times winner: he’s in the opposite half to Murray and Djokovic, but even so at his current price he doesn’t make great appeal bearing in mind that he’s clearly not the player he was and he crashed out in the second round last year. Should go further this time, but at 11-2 the percentage call is to oppose.
STAN WAWRINKA (5). Best odds: 33-1. Became only the second man from outside the Big Four to win a Grand Slam since 2005, when he won the Australian Open earlier this year. But he’s not as a good on grass and his record at Wimbledon is poor: he’s failed to get past the second round in his last four appearances and has gone out at the first round five times.
TOMAS BERDYCH (6). Best odds: 50-1. Beat reigning champ Roger Federer and Djokovic on his run to the final in 2010 and made the quarters again last year when he lost to Djokovic in straight sets. No surprise to see him have a good tournament again but he's on same side of the draw as Djokovic and Murray and so there are major obstacles in the way of him making his second final.
DAVID FERRER (7). Best odds 100-1. Beaten in the quarters for the past two years and that could be his fate again. If he gets through to the last eight, he’s likely to face Murray, who beat him in four sets in 2012.
MILOS RAONIC (8). Best odds: 66-1. Powerful server and while his game should be suited to grass, he’s been knocked out in the second round on the three previous occasions he has played in this tournament. He reached the quarters in the French Open and while it would be no surprise to see him bettering his Wimbledon record, it’s still hard to see him winning.
JOHN ISNER (9). Best odds: 175-1. Played in - and won - the longest match in Wimbledon history in 2010, but the big-serving American had to retire early when playing his second round match last year. The draw has been kind to him this year but while he could get past the second round for the first time, it’s hard to see him going all the way.
KEI NISHIKORI (10). Best odds: 100-1. Reached the quarters of the Australian Open in 2012, but his record on grass isn’t great: he’s yet to get past round three in five previous attempts at Wimbledon. In fact, it’s the only Grand Slam where has failed to make the fourth round. Others make more appeal.
GRIGOR DIMITROV (11). Best odds 22-1. The 23-year-old Bulgarian is a former Junior Wimbledon champion but went out in the second round last year - albeit going down 11-9 in the final set. He’s been in good form in 2014, and landed his first grass court title when winning Queen’s. Looks primed to have a good tournament but the big problem is that if he makes it to the quarters he’s likely to be up against Murray. That's where his run will probably end.
ERNESTS GULBIS (12). Best odds: 100-1. The Latvian comes here in good form having knocked out Federer in a run to the semis of the French Open. His record here isn’t great, however; in six attempts he’s yet to go beyond the third round and this time he’s got a particularly tough draw to negotiate with Djokovic lying in wait should he make it to the quarters.
JO-WILFRIED TSONGA (14). Best odds: 100-1. Beaten semi-finalist in both 2011 and 2012 when he lost to Djokovic and Murray respectively, he also reached the quarters in 2010 when he lost to Murray. Last year he retired through injury in a second round match when he was two sets to one down. Given his good record here, he’s one of the more interesting outsiders.
JERZY JANOWICZ (15). Best odds: 200-1. Took the first set off Murray in last year’s semi-final and although he’s been in poor form this year there’s just the chance that returning to SW19 might spark a revival. There’s certainly worse long-shots around than the 6ft 8in Pole who is on the opposite side of the draw to the two likeliest winners, Djokovic and Murray.
FERNANDO VERDASCO (18). Best odds: 350-1 Led eventual winner Andy Murray by two sets to love in last year’s quarters, so that makes him interesting. However, he’s got a very tough draw and would probably have to overcome both Djokovic and Murray - who beat him again in the French Open - if he’s to make it to the final and reward each-way support.
FELICIANO LOPEZ (19). Best odds: 150-1. Quarter-finalist in 2005, 2008 and 2011 (when he lost to Murray), so you could say it’s his time the reach the last eight again. He comes into this in good form - particularly on grass: he had a championship point at Queen’s and retained his Eastbourne title at the weekend. The Spanish left-hander left-hander doesn't have a bad draw and could give each-way supporters a run for their money.
SERENA WILLIAMS (Seeded 1). Best odds: 7-4. Five-times winner but you could argue that she doesn’t represent great value at current odds considering she’s failed to make it past the fourth round in three of her last four Grand Slams and exited at the fourth round here 12 months ago.
LI NA (2). Best odds: 16-1. Quarter-finalist in 2006, 2010 and again last year, when she went out in three sets to Radwanska. In four of her last six Grand Slams she’s reached at least the quarters - a run that includes victory at this year’s Australian Open. She’ll have to find that little bit extra if she’s to make it to the Wimbledon semis - or further - for the first time.
SIMONA HALEP (3). Best odds: 20-1. The 22-year-old Romanian has had a sensational 12 months rising to number three in the world. She reached the quarters in the Australian Open and then made the final in the French, going down in three sets to Sharapova. However she’s yet to make it past the second round in three appearances here and her game does look much better suited to clay than grass.
AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA (4). Best odds: 20-1. Like last year’s winner, Marion Bartoli, she is a beaten finalist, having lost in three sets to Serena Williams in 2012. She also made the semi-finals again last year when she suffered a narrow three-sets defeat to Sabine Lisicki, losing 9-7 in an epic final set. She’s really knocking on the door here and could prove to be the best each-way value in the tournament.
MARIA SHARAPOVA (5). Best odds: 7-1. The French Open champion will have her supporters, but despite winning Wimbledon in 2004 she’s only made one final since then (in 2011) and her current odds don’t look great value considering that she had a gap of at least one year between her previous Grand Slam wins.
PETRA KVITOVA (6). Best odds: 12-1. The 2011 winner has made at least the quarters in the past four years, but her last Grand Slam semi was in the French Open two years ago. She’s got injury concerns, too, having pulled out of a tournament last week due to a hamstring injury. But if she does get over that in time, she has to go on the each-way shortlist given her record here.
JELENA JANKOVIC (7). Best odds: 250-1. On really good form in Grand Slams between 2006 and 2008, the 29-year-old Serb has recovered some of that form over the past 12 months. However, her record at Wimbledon doesn’t give great grounds for enthusiasm: in ten attempts she’s yet to make it past the fourth round.
VICTORIA AZARENKA (8). Best odds: 20-1. Made it to the semis in 2012 and 2013 but withdrew in the second round last year because of a knee injury. In the last nine Grand Slams she’s made the final four times (two wins, two defeats), and reached two semis and a quarter-final. Given that consistency she has to go on the each-way shortlist.
ANGELIQUE KERBER (9). Best odds: 66-1. Semi-finalist in 2012, she also made the quarters at the London Olympics and lost a three-set final on the grass at Eastbourne last week. No surprise to see her go far in the tournament - but she's not on the easiest side of the draw.
DOMINIKA CIBULKOVA (10). Best odds: 200-1. This year’s Australian Open finalist has a mixed record here: a quarter finalist in 2011, she was knocked out in the first round 12 months later and in the third round last year. She’s got Azarenka and Radwanska in her side of the draw so she's up against it.
ANA IVANOVIC (11). Best odds: 33-1. The Serb reached the semis in 2007 but hasn’t gone beyond the fourth round since. That said, the 2008 French Open winner has returned to form this year and won well at Edgbaston last week - her first grass court title. Could be in for a good tournament but faces a potentially tricky third-round tie with Sabine Lisicki, who has such a great record here.
FLAVIA PENNETTA (12). Best odds: 250-1. Has made the semi-finals twice in the doubles, but has yet to get beyond the fourth round in the singles and was beaten by Heather Watson on grass at Eastbourne last week. Others make more appeal.
EUGENIE BOUCHARD (13). Best odds: 25-1. The 2012 Wimbledon Girls Champion was a semi-finalist in the year’s first two Grand Slams. She reached the third round last year in her first Wimbledon and this rising star could make a big impression. The problem is that if she gets to the fourth round she is likely to meet Serena Williams.
SLOANE STEPHENS (18). Best odds: 50-1 Pushed eventual winner Marion Bartoli close in the quarter-final last year. She looks to have a negotiable path to the last eight again, but will face some stiff opposition from then on in.
SABINE LISICKI (19). Best odds: 33-1. Reached the final as an 80-1 shot last year, maintaining her excellent record here. In her last four Wimbledons she has reached at least the quarter-finals (she also reached the final of the 2011 women’s doubles). The draw looks kind to her, and although her odds are much shorter than last year, there's no reason why she can’t give us a good each-way run for our money again
GARBINE MUGURUZA (27). Best odds: 40-1. Another rising star of women’s tennis, the 20-year-old knocked Serena Williams out in the second round in the French Open. A name we’re sure to be hearing a lot more of in the years ahead, though she has a tough draw to overcome if she’s to make it to the final and no one seeded lower than 23 has ever won the women’s title.
MADISON KEYS (-). Best odds: 50-1. The 19-year-old American who won Eastbourne last week is available at shorter odds than some of the seeds. But while she makes an interesting each-way bet, she'd have to rewrite the history books to become the first unseeded player to win the women’s title.
TSVETANA PIRONKOVA (-). Best odds: 200-1. The Bulgarian is also unseeded - but she loves it at Wimbledon where she was a semi-finalist in 2010, made the quarters in 2011 and lost in a three-set match to eventual semi–finalist Radwanska in the fourth round last year. The generous odds make her an appealing each-way bet – though the draw suggests Radwanska could be the obstacle again in the fourth round.