Wimbledon 2017 PreviewJune 27, 2017
2017 Wimbledon Men’s preview
It’s turning out to be a vintage year in Men’s tennis. Prior to the Australian Open in January, it was inconceivable that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal would each have bagged a major and be vying for favouritism in the lead up to Wimbledon. This is now the mouth-watering prospect awaiting tennis fans ahead of the 2017 Wimbledon Championships.
Federer’s 2017 Australian Open victory was as sublime as it was unlikely. Coming off a 6 month lay off, the Swiss great overcame early 5 set matches before inflicting a career defining victory over his arch nemesis Nadal to win the final. Nadal’s comeback in the same tournament was arguably as good, if the result had gone the other way in the 5th set, it would have been he receiving all of the ‘greatest’ plaudits. Those were instead saved for the French Open, where Nadal didn’t drop a set and lost few games en route to a famous 10th Roland Garros crown. So comprehensive was his performance, many believe he is back to his absolute best.
Now the grass courts of Wimbledon await.
Will we be treated to another classic like the 2008 Wimbledon final?
Federer, is coming off a self-imposed break, deliberately shunning the French Open in his quest to claim an 8th Wimbledon title. He is the tournament favourite listed at a quote of $3.25 by bookmaker Betstar. Last year’s Wimbledon winner Andy Murray is at $4.25. Despite not having made it past the 4th Round since 2011, Nadal is third favourite at $5.00. Making up the ‘Big 4’ is Djokovic, this year rated a $6.50 chance after his poor showing in the quarter finals at Roland Garros. The betting would suggest that the ‘Big 4’ appear to be in control of the Men’s game once again; and, it is 15 years since any other player outside of these four has won at Wimbledon.
There are however doubts over each players’ form and preparation in the lead up to the SW19 Championships. Federer elected to take time off before beginning his 2017 grass court campaign, a move that appeared ill-judged as he lost to Tommy Haas in the first round of the Stuttgart Open. However, he has since bounced back to win well in Halle, Germany, a tournament he has now won 9 times. The Halle victory aside, Federer may well be rusty in the early stages of the Wimbledon tournament, and when you combine his finish to the 2016 season, he hasn’t played a lot of tennis in the preceding 12 months.
Nadal has suffered a series of early exits at Wimbledon in recent times, whilst injury has accounted for his absence in every other year. However, it would be incorrect to assume that he does not play well on grass. Nadal made the final in every Wimbledon tournament he contested between 2006 and 2011, winning twice. He may well have rediscovered the same kind of form, but bookmakers will be quick to point out he has not played any grass court tennis prior to Wimbledon, perhaps leaving him vulnerable in the early rounds.
Andy Murray has struggled somewhat in 2017 despite being ranked the No. 1 player in the game. He played well at Roland Garros, eventually losing his semi final to Stan Wawrinka in a close 5 set encounter. The big surprise was his recent first round exit on grass at Queens, leaving him short of match practice on grass prior to Wimbledon. For all of this, Murray of course won last year, and is more comfortable at this event than any other, only this year he must overcome an in form Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
It will be interesting to see what sort of form Djokovic shows at Wimbledon. It is a very long time since Djokovic was on the 4th line of betting for a Grand Slam tournament. He appeared to be playing well at Roland Garros before crumbling to Dominic Thiem in the Quarter Finals. It was the manner of this defeat that has many pundits questioning his commitment to the game. A fourth Wimbledon title seems unlikely in 2017.
With question marks over the top 4, it may be worth looking further afield in the Men’s draw for some sports betting value. Milos Raonic made the final last year and his game is as suited to grass as anyone’s. He hasn’t progressed in 2017 as many thought he might, and was another to succumb to an upset defeat at Queens. He is nonetheless not the worst pick at $15.
Readers that regularly tune into our Grand Slam previews will be well aware of our liking for Stan Wawrinka. As predicted, he was highly competitive in the French Open, and boasts as good a recent Grand Slam record as any other player. Wawrinka has never really fired on grass, in fact Wimbledon is the only major that he has not won. There is nothing about his game that suggests he might struggle on grass. It would be no surprise to see him turn around his recent poor showings, at $26, he may well be worth a small dabble.
Others in contention include: Nick Kygrios, Marin Cilic and Alexander Zverev. Despite, Kygrios’ obvious ability, and solid Wimbledon record, it is hard to see him putting together the 6 or 7 quality matches required to win the Championship. Of these three, we’d rather put our faith in a player that has been there and done it. Former US Open champion Cilic, has made the Quarter Finals at Wimbledon the past 3 years, and if there is to be an upset, he may be it.
It’s going to be an enthralling tournament. Federer deserves to be favourite, but if Nadal gets through the first week he is going to be very hard to stop. The fairy tale is set to continue for one of these two great champions. Murray is an obvious danger, Djokovic less so. It may be worth having something small on Cilic to win his quarter of the draw.