Wimbledon 2015 odds: the intelligent punter's guide
Puzzling over Andy Murray's chances at Wimbledon? Find out who's hot and who's not in SW19 this year
Anyone for tennis bets? Wimbledon starts today, and offers plenty of opportunities to serve up an ace and beat the bookies - provided the intelligent punter does their homework and bears in mind some key statistics.
Let's take the men's tournament first. While 128 players will compete for the title, only a small handful can entertain realistic hopes of winning the tournament, or even making it to the final.
In the last 22 years, just eight different men have won the title. Multiple winners are common: since 2003, three men, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have won the tournament 11 times between them. Genuine surprise winners only come along about once a decade - think of the 17-year-old unseeded Boris Becker in 1985, No 17 seed Richard Krajicek in 1996 and 250-1 wild-card veteran Goran Ivanisevic in 2001.
In the past 11 years the only real 'surprise' finalist was Tomas Berdych in 2010. So while we can't discount a real outsider making the final or winning, the odds are that the final will be contested by two of the more fancied players with another Djokovic vs Murray final the likeliest outcome.
The women's tournament has been more unpredictable in recent years, but even here strong trends can be identified. Every winner since 2004, including the 2013 champion Marion Bartoli at 150-1, had at least made the semi-finals in a previous tournament. That indicates that in the hunt for a winner we should focus on players who have gone deep into the tournament before. Another fact to bear in mind is that the women's tournament has never been won by an unseeded player or a player seeded lower than 23.
Now let's take a look at the top seeds plus some outsiders who could reward each-way support:
NOVAK DJOKOVIC (Seeded 1). Best odds: 7-5.
The reigning champion, the world number one and an eight times Grand Slam winner. The positives are that he has a fine record here, he was also the winner in 2011 and has reached at least the semi-finals in each of the last five years. The negative from a win bet point of view is that he has lost six of the last seven Grand Slam finals he has contested outside of Australia. Highly likely to reach the final again, and a worthy favourite given the record of past winners in this event.
ROGER FEDERER (Seeded 2). Best odds 7-1
The seven-times champion can never be dismissed here, and last year when he was around 6-1 in the betting, he took Djokovic to five sets in an epic final.
However, his age is very much against him from a win bet point of view. He'll be 34 in less than two months' time and you've got to go back to 1972 to find the last time a man won a Grand Slam at such an advanced age.
ANDY MURRAY (Seeded 3). Best odds: 11-4.
We tipped him for success at 4-1 in 2013, and at the current odds he could be the value bet this year too. He's in a better place mentally than he was 12 months ago when he suffered a shock quarter-final defeat, but that was the only time he's failed to make the semi-final since 2008. His win at Queen's earlier this month is another positive pointer in his favour as he also won there prior to Wimbledon success in 2013.
STAN WAWRINKA (Seeded 4). Best odds 16-1.
The Swiss arrives in fine form having defeated Djokovic in the final of the French Open, but clay is his preferred surface and although he got to the quarters here 12 months ago, he has exited in the first round here in three of the last five years. He could win more Grand Slams, but probably not at the All England Club.
KEI NISHIKORI (Seeded 5). Best odds: 50-1.
The 25-year-old Japanese - a shock finalist at the 2014 US Open, made it through to the quarter-finals of both this year's Grand Slams; and given the progress he's been making it would be no surprise to see him improve on his best showing here (he made it to the fourth round last year). He looks a good bet to land a Grand Slam at some point, but it probably won't be at SW19 as his game looks better suited to other surfaces.
TOMAS BERDYCH (Seeded 6). Best odds: 40-1.
The Czech is a bit of an enigma: he pulled off stunning victories against Federer and Djokovic on his run to the final in 2010, but in 2012 he was knocked out in the first round. On his day though he's a lively outsider who could go deep into the tournament, without being quite good enough to win it.
MILOS RAONIC (Seeded 7). Best odds: 40-1.
The 6ft 5in tall Yugoslavia-born Canadian reached the semis last-year and his on his way up the rankings. With his fast serve he's always going to be a dangerous opponent on grass, and although he'd be a surprise winner, another run to the latter stages of the tournament looks likely.
MARIN CILIC (Seeded 9). Best odds: 80-1.
The 6ft 6in tall Croat held a two sets to one lead over Djokovic in the quarter-final here last year but could not hang on. But he went on to land his first Grand Slam at the US Open in September. He's been hit with injury problems this year, but did reach the fourth round in the French Open on his return to Grand Slam action and if there is to be a new men's champion this year, then Cilic is one of the likeliest candidates.
RAFAEL NADAL (Seeded 10). Best odds: 22-1.
A two-times winner here (in 2008 and 2010) and a three times beaten finalist, but he has failed to get to the third round here in two of the last three years, and hasn't passed the fourth round since 2011. He lost to the world number 79 in the first round at Queens, and while you can never write off a player of his great quality, a third Wimbledon success in 2015 looks unlikely.
GRIGOR DIMITROV (Seeded 11). Best odds: 50-1.
The Bulgarian caused a stir when he knocked out Andy Murray in the quarters last year, but he hasn't really kicked on from that famous victory. However, a return to SW19 could be just what he needs, as he saves his best for Wimbledon: in addition to last year's great run he also won the 2008 junior title here.
JO-WILFRIED TSONGA (Seeded 13). Best odds: 80-1
Twice a semi-finalist and once a quarter-finalist, the charismatic 30-year-old's chances of going deep into the competition again could be jeopardised by the likelihood of him facing Andy Murray in the fourth round. Murray has beaten him the last four times they have played on grass, including here in 2010 and 2012.
NICK KYRGIOS (Seeded 26). Best odds: 80-1.
The 20-year-old Australian made it to the quarters last year, knocking out Nadal in the fourth round, and he also made the quarters in the Australian Open this year. He's already a Wimbledon tournament winner he won the boys doubles' event in 2013 and although inconsistency is a problem (he lost in the first round at Queen's), he's clearly a player with a big future who could go deep in the tournament again.
KEVIN ANDERSON (Seeded 14). Best odds: 150-1.
The big-serving, 6ft 8in tall, 29-year-old South African made it to the fourth round last year, when he was beaten by Murray and suffered the same fate in the final at Queen's this year. If he had a better draw, he might be fancied to have a good run again given his current form, but his chances of going further than round four look slim bearing in mind he's likely to come up against Djokovic in the last 16.
JOHN ISNER (Seeded 17). Best odds: 200-1.
The 6ft 10in tall ace-serving machine from the US famously won Wimbledon's longest ever match in 2010, beating Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the final set. A dangerous opponent for anyone given his serving prowess; however he's still to get past the third round here in six attempts and has only made one Grand Slam quarter-final in his career.
BORNA CORIC (Unseeded). Best odds: 2,000-1.
If you fancy a real long-shot try the 18-year-old Croatian who beat Andy Murray in Dubai earlier this year and has made it into the world's top 40. Looks a great prospect and while he could spring a few surprises, if he gets to the third round he's likely to face Murray, who'd be fancied to get his revenge on the teenager.
SERENA WILLIAMS (Seeded 1). Best odds: 7-4.
Five times Wimbledon champion who is in search of her 21st Grand Slam title. Although she has failed to make the quarter-finals since her last win here in 2012, she does come into this in top form, having won both slams contested thus far in 2015 and also the last Slam of 2014, the US Open. While she is the likeliest winner and a worthy favourite, she's no shoo-in though as her side of the draw looks the toughest.
PETRA KVITOVA (Seeded 2). Best odds: 4-1.
The reigning champion who also won the title in 2011 has made at least the quarter-finals for the last five years, so if you back her, you can be fairly confident you'll get a good run for your money. The 25-year Czech missed the Eastbourne warm-up due to illness, but provided she's fully recovered another run deep into the tournament looks likely.
SIMONA HALEP (Seeded 3). Best odds: 20-1.
The 23-year-old Romanian made it to the semis last year, and although she went out in the second round of the French Open, she is likely to do better back on grass and a small each-way interest at current odds looks tempting.
MARIA SHARAPOVA (Seeded 4). Best odds 10-1.
The 2004 winner (when she was just 17) and world number four is clearly one of the leading contenders, but from a betting point of view it's worth noting that since reaching her second semi-final in a row in 2006, she has failed to make it past the fourth round in seven of the last eight Wimbledons.
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI (Seeded 5). Best odds: 40-1.
The 24-year-old Dane, a former world number one, has yet to win a Grand Slam and has yet to get beyond the fourth round here in eight previous attempts. She also had an injury scare at Eastbourne last week and, from a betting perspective, others make more appeal.
LUCIE SAFAROVA (Seeded 6). Best odds: 33-1.
The 28-year-old Czech made it to the semi-finals last year, where she lost to eventual winner Petra Kvitova, and comes into this in fine form having reached her first ever Grand Slam final, in the French Open. Her confidence will be high, and she is another with each-way possibilities.
ANA IVANOVIC (Seeded 7). Best odds: 100-1.
The photogenic Serb was a beaten finalist here in 2007 and struggled after winning her first Grand Slam, the 2008 French Open. But her form picked up again last year, and earlier this month she reached the semi-final of the French Open. While it would be no surprise to see her go well, if she makes it to the quarters she'd have a tough task against Serena Williams who has an 8-1 record against her.
EKATERINA MAKAROVA (Seeded 8). Best odds: 100-1.
The 27-year-old Russian has been showing some really progressive Grand Slam form. She reached the quarters at Wimbledon for the first time last year, then made the semi-final of the US Open and the semis of the Australian Open earlier this year. She disappointed at Eastbourne, going out in a shock defeat to Britain's Johanna Konta, but otherwise looks a lively outsider.
CARLA SUAREZ NAVARRO (Seeded 9). Best odds: 150-1.
The 26-year-old Spaniard has reached four Grand Slam quarter-finals but significantly not one of them was here. She's a fine player, but at 5ft 4in tall she arguably lacks the power to become a real Grand Slam contender on grass.
ANGELIQUE KERBER (Seeded 10). Best odds: 25-1.
The German, a semi-finalist here in 2012, and quarter-finalist last year, has been in great form in 2015 and comes here fresh from winning the Aegon Birmingham Classic. At 25-1 she's worth an each-way interest as she could go deep into the tournament once more.
KAROLINA PLISKOVA (Seeded 11). Best odds: 50-1.
A 6ft 1in Czech with a powerful serve and a progressive profile. Could be a lively outsider but hasn't made it passed the second round in three attempts here and she did lose in the third round to Radwanska at Eastbourne.
EUGENIE BOUCHARD (Seeded 12). Best odds: 100-1.
The 21-year-old Canadian was a surprise finalist last year, but she hasn't really built on that in her last three Grand Slams and went out in the first round of the French Open. Supporters will be hoping that a return to the grass courts of SW19 will spark a revival, but while that isn't out of the question, her loss of form does give cause for concern.
AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA (Seeded 15). Best odds: 33-1.
The 26-year-old Pole could represent some good each-value at current odds. She has a good Wimbledon record, she reached the final in 2012, going down in three sets to Serena Williams, and lost a very close semi-final to Sabine Lisicki in 2013. She also made the final at Eastbourne at the weekend.
SABINE LISICKI (Seeded 18). Best odds: 20-1.
We flagged up the chances of the fast-serving German at odds of 80-1 in 2013 and she did us proud - knocking out Serena Williams en route to the final. The 25-year-old has made at least the quarter-finals in her last five Wimbledons and is certainly of each-way interest again, though her odds are nowhere near as generous as they were two years ago.
MADISON KEYS (Seeded 21). Best odds: 66-1.
The 20-year-old American beat Petra Kvitova in this year's Australian Open en route to the semi-finals, where she lost to Serena Williams. She was forced to retire with injury in the third round last year, but while she could easily go beyond that stage this year, you've got to go back to 2004 to find the last women's winner who had not made the semi finals at least in a previous tournament.
VIKTORIA AZARENKA (Seeded 23). Best odds: 20-1.
The former world number one from Belarus, her ranking plummeted after she was hit with injuries. She reached two semi-finals in a row here in 2011 and 2012 and so a fully-fit Azarenka has to be feared, but it's a concern that she pulled out of the Edgbaston Classic earlier this month with a foot injury.
TIMEA BACSINSZKY (Seeded 15). Best odds: 150-1.
The 26-year-old had a great French Open, when she beat Kvitova en route to the semis, and gave Serena Williams an almighty scare. That was her best performance in a Grand Slam, but while she has a progressive profile and could go well, she's likely to find Wimbledon specialist Sabine Lisicki a tough nut to crack in a possible third round clash.
BELINDA BENCIC (Seeded 30). Best odds: 50-1.
The 18-year old from Switzerland will come into this with her confidence sky high having won Eastbourne at the weekend, the second grass court final she has made this month. She looks a really exciting prospect and could cause some surprises over the next fortnight- though she does face a potentially difficult first round tie against Tsvetana Pironkova who has a Wimbledon semi-final and quarter-final to her name.