Ace Tennis Previews: Wimbledon Tips

Wimbledon is the biggest grass tournament and the only grass Gland Slam on the Pro Tour. This year, our resident tennis expert, Ace, previews both sides of the draw as well as providing us with two Wimbledon Tips each day.

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Djokovic v Federer

After a performance well and truly deserving of a final on Friday, Roger Federer now must back up again today against the world number 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic in his quest to reclaim the Wimbledon title for the ninth time.

I mentioned a little about each player’s run to the final the other day, however I thought I would go through each run again, as well as some overall stats for both players leading into their final today.

Novak Djokovic

Djokovic actually started his first round match against Kohlschreiber by dropping serve in the first game. That was all the resistance Kohlschreiber could muster however, with the Serbian winning 6-3 7-5 6-3 on the back of 37 winners, 19 unforced errors and 17/21 points won at net.

After cruising past Denis Kudla in round 2, Djokovic had a tougher time of things in round 3, needing 3 hours to defeat Hubert Hurkacz in 4 sets. Whilst it looked close on the scoreboard, Djokovic didn’t drop serve for the match, whilst converting only 4 of 17 break point opportunities on the serve of Hurkacz.

The Serbian was never troubled in a simple fourth round against Humbert, not facing a break point or deuce game on serve throughout the 6-3 6-2 6-3 whitewash. After dropping serve first in his quarter final, Djokovic was able to handle David Goffin 6-4 6-0 6-2 in under 2 hours.

The semi-final didn’t go all Novak’s way, however his lapse in the second set came from a decent position. He hasn’t found himself in any danger in any of his matches, so overall it has been a solid run to the final for the Serbian.

Roger Federer

After dropping the first set against Lloyd Harris in round 1, it was smooth sailing in the first week of Wimbledon for Federer, with wins over Harris, Clarke, Pouille and Berrettini on the way to the final 8.

After a shaky start in his quarter final against Nishikori, dropping the first set, Federer was able to regain momentum very quickly with a 6-1 second set, going on to take the victory behind 55 winners and 80% of points won at the net.

What followed was Federer’s best performance at a major in recent memory, claiming the victory over Rafael Nadal 7-6 1-6 6-3 6-4 in just over 3 hours. The Swiss produced 51 winners, only 27 unforced errors, won 75% of his points at net and was able to win 53% of return points on the second serve of Nadal. He took the ball early and attacked at will and was ultimately rewarded with the victory.

Federer admitted after the performance that he was exhausted, so you must wonder if there is any carryover impact today. A 3-hour match is not uncommon; however, the intensity and brutality of the match is something rarely seen on tour.

Summary of the Tournament

PlayerNovak DjokovicRoger Federer
Aces Per Game0.420.58
DFs Per Game0.240.09
1st Serve %65.165.7
1st Serve Win %75.980.4
2nd Serve Win %51.865.8
BP Save %7577.3
Service Hold %93.594.8
1st Return Win %32.235
2nd Return Win %53.450.7
Break Points Conversion %47.145.6
Opponent Hold %63.372.3

The scene is set for what has the potential to be an incredible final. On clay or hardcourt, it is hard to ignore the fact that Djokovic has the significant recent head to head advantage over Roger Federer, winning 8 of the last 10 encounters overall. The natural tendency is to then look at the grasscourt head to head, of which Djokovic won their previous finals appearances in 2014 and 2015 after Federer claimed a semi-final over the Serbian in 2012.

Beyond the statistical approach to this match, there are a few situational factors to consider. The first is the fatigue that will potentially accumulate for Federer over the course of the match. It does make pre-match selections here a little difficult, as I think across the shorter term of the match Federer looks to be value, however as the match progresses I would expect this to switch in favour of Djokovic.

The second thing to consider is the fact that Djokovic, although known for an occasional off match against lesser players from time to time, generally finds his best tennis against the other top players in the world.

I don’t think there is a great deal of value in the pre-match head to head prices on offer. I think the first set is absolutely crucial for Federer, as he cannot afford to be playing catch-up off his Nadal battle against one of the best movers in the men’s game.

Whilst there is a bit of value in Federer to win the first set, I think the best option overall is to make a small play on Djokovic to cover the game handicap. If he wins, he covers the -2.5 games in my opinion, and should do so even in a 4 set match (or potentially 5 sets if tiebreaks are lost), and there is more value in that price than the current head to head.

It looks to be a fascinating match, and although it would be incredible to see Federer raise the trophy for the 9th time, this looks to be another fantastic opportunity for Djokovic to thrust his name into the conversation regarding the best of the modern era.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2 units Djokovic -2.5 games.

Williams vs Halep

I must say when this tournament commenced, this wasn’t the final that I had anticipated by any stretch of the imagination. Let’s take a quick look at each player and their run to the final, before analysing the match-up and discussing potential value for today.

Serena Williams

Considering the touted potential draw for Serena at the start of the fortnight, with her name sitting in the middle of arguably the strongest quarter on paper in recent time, Williams has had one of the more comfortable roads to the final of a major in recent time.

It did take Serena a little while to get going, with some scratchy performances early against Gatto-Monticone and Juvan, however a more suited opponent in Julia Goerges helped the American to find her range a little bit with her game. It can be difficult to come in and handle those key moments so well as a player coming off such little lead-up tennis, so the desire to oppose Serena has certainly been there for the majority of the fortnight.

Whilst not playing scintillating tennis in her wins over Suarez Navarro and Riske, Williams again found a way when it mattered most, especially when down an early break in the third set to Riske. Compared to a couple of her recent tournaments, Williams seems to be a little more understanding of her ability and level of tennis compared to how she managed situations and played in her prime. Whereas the last couple of tournaments Williams has found herself frustrated at her inability to perhaps play the way that she wants, she seems more understanding of her limitations, as shown with her 28 winners and 10 unforced errors in her win over Strycova in the semi final.

What needs to be weighed up for Williams is the strength of opponent compared to Halep, who as we see below has played some blistering tennis this week.

Simona Halep

I for one didn’t expect to see Simona Halep in the final today given her lead-up form, however she does seem to be a touch more relaxed on court compared to previous years.

Halep got off to a shaky start for the tournament, finding herself a couple of points from a 3-setter with Sasnovich after taking a medical timeout in set 2 of their first round encounter. She dug her way out of that hole, however did end up in a 3-setter in round 2 against Mihaela Buzarnescu. Whilst the scoreboard made the match look relatively close, Halep never found herself in any meaningful trouble on the scoreboard, with Buzarnescu playing her best tennis when well down in the count on the scoreboard.

One of Halep’s more impressive wins this fortnight came in round 3, where she disposed of Victoria Azarenka for the loss of 4 games in a dominant performance. It isn’t often you find yourself against a 15 year old in round 4 of a major, however the Romanian handled the hype and occasion far more comfortably than Gauff, winning again in straight sets.

After being hit right off the court early in her match against Zhang in the quarter final, Halep finally found her range, and just in time. After saving 4 break point chances when serving at *1-4 in the first set, Halep went on to take control of the match, winning 7-6 6-1 in a fantastic counterpunching performance.

After playing a bigger striker of the ball in Zhang, Halep then had to turn to the role of aggressor more frequently in her match against Svitolina. 26 winners and 16 unforced errors, whilst allowing Svitolina only 10 winners for the match set the tone for a very impressive performance, with the Romanian progressing to her first Wimbledon final.

Summary

This presents as one of the more fascinating match-ups that we encounter on the women’s tour as their styles can make for some captivating tennis. Williams holds the clear advantage in the head to head, however they have only met once since 2016, so it is difficult to read too much into that as so much water has gone under the bridge in the meantime. They met at the Australian Open earlier this year, with Williams prevailing in a close encounter 6-1 4-6 6-4.

Ultimately, I think the match rests on the racquet of Williams, in a very similar way to the final last year against Kerber. If Williams brings her best tennis, she should be winning today. The question is: will Halep allow Williams to bring her best tennis?

There are so many variables to this match that I don’t personally feel the need to make a big selection on this match. I think Serena should be winning if she maintains her form from the semi, however I think Halep will be right in the match as well if she moves as well as she has for the entire tournament.

The over 21.5 games looks a good option, as both players are some of the better on tour in terms of coming from a set down and handling tough situations. I give Williams the edge just, however the odds look about right in my opinion, so 1.5 units on the total games going over 21.5 looks a nice option for what will be a closely contested final in my opinion.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 1.5 unit Williams/Halep total games over 21.5

Federer v Nadal

The semi final that most were hoping for at the start of the week has eventuated, however the paths both players took to the semi final haven’t quite gone as expected.

I will quickly glance over the run to the semi final for both players, however most of the focus lies with how these two match up on grass at this stage of their respective careers. There has been a bit of shock regarding the odds for this match, however I think the value lies the other way.

Roger Federer didn’t start his tournament in ideal fashion, dropping his first set to Lloyd Harris, however since then has only dropped the one set against Nishikori in the quarter finals.

It certainly isn’t the dominant Federer that has taken to this court for over a decade, and there appears to be a little more vulnerability in his game, which I will get to shortly.

Wins over Harris, Clarke, Pouille, Berrettini and Nishikori have all been solid however, as outside of the first 10 minutes against Nishikori the Swiss hasn’t really looked in a lot of danger.

Whilst Rafael Nadal did have one of the more testing draws handed to him for the first week, he certainly passed with flying colours. The win over Kyrgios in round 2 has really set the tone for an incredibly impressive run, with straight set wins over Tsonga, Sousa and Querrey.

You can tell that he is comfortable on the surface this year, with the Spaniard averaging just over 3.8 unforced errors per set since the second round. He is serving well too, with his serve averages even edging Federer over the course of the tournament, and he looks more comfortable being a touch more attacking behind his first serve.

There appears to be a little bit of merit to the talk of the courts being a touch slower this year, however regardless of that I think the form of Nadal this week, coupled with the advantage of this match as a best of 5 set format all leads me towards the Spaniard.

Over the last 12 months I have commented on the best-of-5 set format becoming less and less advantageous for Federer, and I feel as though the longer this match goes, the more it will be favouring Nadal.

At this stage of his career, it feels as though Wimbledon now rests as Nadal’s second best chance at a major title each year given his knees. The grass allows him to maintain a higher physical level for longer, as we saw with matches such as his semi against Djokovic last year.

With Nadal moving so well on the grass, I think his form over the last fortnight, as well as on grass over the last 13 months (albeit difficult with a smaller sample size), means his game handicap today presents some value.

These two haven’t met on grass in over a decade so not too much can be taken from those matches. Nadal does seem to be moving well and will cause Federer a lot of grief when he is coming in to approach the net.

Nadal has looked relentless this fortnight, and if Nadal can continue to serve big, and limit his unforced errors in a similar way to the rest of the tournament, Federer will need a vintage performance to get over the line in a best-of-5 set match today.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Nadal to defeat Federer for 3.5 units


Djokovic v Bautista-Agut

When I first came across this match-up and took into consideration the recent head to head of both players, I was quite intrigued by the thought of Bautista-Agut at the handicap. With further research however, I am now looking in a different direction.

Whilst David Goffin had quite an “off” patch midway through his quarter final, Djokovic did a fantastic job of giving him nothing cheaply when the match hung in the balance.

To trail 3-4* with Goffin serving confidently at 30/0, and to lose your next game in the third set is a testament to the ability to remain locked in across the best of 5 set format

Such was his confidence in not reaching the semi finals before the start of the tournament, Bautista-Agut had actually booked himself and his friends to head to Ibiza this week to celebrate his upcoming wedding.

He has done a fantastic job of capitalising on his draw, making to most of the quarter that avoided Djokovic/Federer/Nadal. Whilst not the most difficult run to a semi final you will ever encounter (Gojowczyk/Darcis/Khachanov/Paire/Pella) on grass, the Spaniard has looked quite solid overall, delivering a pretty consistent brand of tennis outside of a small lapse early in set 3 against Pella.

Today is a big step up in terms of opponent, however it is worth noting that RBA has been able to overcome Djokovic twice this season on hardcourt. The grass doesn’t suit him as much, however the confidence gained from beating the world number 1 will be noticeable today.

It will only bridge the gap somewhat however, as I feel the best of 5 format plays right into the hands of Djokovic. I still think the total is high enough to make a small play on the under 32 games here, as it allows for a close set or two with a bit of wriggle room.

Just the one unit however, as a lot hinges on RBA’s ability to handle to occasion against a player that is far and away better than anyone he has faced this fortnight.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Under 32 Games for 1 unit

Williams v Strycova

Following on with a similar train of thought to some of the other selections this week, as my thoughts on the match-up haven’t changed.

You can make a case that Serena Williams did a fantastic job of making her way out of arguably one of the more difficult quarters of a major in recent memory, however a lot of the hard work was done for her by others.

To reach the semi final she has faced Gatto-Monticone, Juvan, Goerges, Suarez Navarro and Riske, dropping sets to Juvan and Riske. You could argue the opponents in the best form out of that group are Goerges and Riske, who were the best match-ups for Serena in terms of style.

Unless you can hit through Serena, hitting at her with pace turns out to be a bit of a nightmare once she finds a rhythm. In her current form, you want a variety of pace and spin, as well as the ability to come into the net and force the issue when it is advantageous.

Enter Barbora Strycova.

A player I have been keen on across the whole tournament, I really like her chances today. She has the type of game to really cause Serena a lot of grief on a grasscourt.

As I have mentioned multiple times over the last fortnight, her ability to neutralise a point on grass with her backhand and forehand slice is a massive advantage, and you know she is in great form based on her singles and doubles semi finals performances.

Strycova played well in the early stages of the tournament, however has lifted another level since she was down 4-6 2-5 to Mertens in round 4. In what will most likely be a pro-Serena crowd, I don’t think Strycova will be phased based on her ability to handle the pro-Konta crowd the other night.

Against what I would argue to be a tougher set of opponents, Strycova has managed to put a higher percentage of first serves into play than William and win 1st serve points at a higher rate. The key is going to be first serve percentage for Strycova.

The Czech can handle first serve return more comfortably looking at the stats, however Strycova’s second serve may be a liability in the key moments.

Look for Strycova to slice and dice, and sneak into the net occasionally to break up the rhythm of the American. I am happy to split plays across both first set and full match, as I think there is a fair amount of value in both prices.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Strycova 1st set winner for 2 units

 BACK – Strycova to defeat Williams for 1.5 units


Svitolina v Halep

These two have both proven me very wrong over the course of the fortnight, with neither setting the world on fire in terms of form post Roland Garros. Having these two playing quality tennis is great for the WTA, and this looks to be a very interesting head to head match-up.

Although it hasn’t been the case for a lot of matches over the last fortnight, I think we may be in for some very long rallies in this one. Personally, I am drawn to the game handicap of Halep, which sits at -3.5 games, as I am not sure Svitolina is going to be able to:

A) hit through Halep consistently enough.
B) limit unforced errors.

Both of these players used class and experience to dig themselves out of first set deficits in their quarter finals, however I preferred the performance of Halep by quite a way.

She looks to be moving exceptionally well around the court at the moment, and I just don’t see the winner count from Svitolina being high enough to take control today.

Halep has the greater body of recent form, and although I liked Svitolina in a big way in her previous round, this match-up on grass favours Halep in my opinion. I am comfortable making a 2.5 unit selection on Halep to win and cover the game handicap of -3.5 games on her way to the final.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Halep -3.5 games for 2 units

Pella v Bautista Agut

You cannot help but be incredibly impressed by the phenomenal first week of tennis that Guido Pella has been able to produce in the first week at Wimbledon. Without a really prominent first serve as a weapon, Pella has been able to take down Copil, Seppi, Anderson and Raonic, including coming from 2 sets to 0 down against the Canadian.

Raonic actually served for the match in the fourth set, and fought off 2 break points before committing the error that would be the beginning of his downfall.

Pella hasn’t by any means served big throughout the tournament, however he has done a fantastic job of hitting his spots in key moments, especially when down break point.

Part of the key through his matches against Copil, Anderson and Raonic was to hit a high percentage of first serves, and generally limit unforced errors overall. It has been effective for the tournament to date, however today he sees a completely different style of opponent on the other side of the net.

Roberto Bautista-Agut continues to slide under the radar in terms of form on grass-court form, as he has made his way to the second week in perfect condition without dropping a set.

Through 12 sets, the Spaniard has only dropped serve twice across his matches with Gojowczyk, Darcis, Khachanov and Paire. He is also averaging just a touch over 5 unforced errors per set, which is impressive given the quality of opponent along the way.

Pella has been able to drop his average first serve speed and opt for placement at a high percentage through his previous rounds, however he will not be afforded the same luxury today.

I think the grass is far more suited to RBA, and the current game handicap on offer of -5.5 games looks to be incredibly appealing prospect. RBA has played more of a mix of styles this week, and looks most suited in this match-up in my opinion. Happy to take the game handicap for 4 units.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Bautista-Agut -5.5 games for 4 units


Nadal v Querrey

When you take a look at the form of Nadal over the years, you notice quite quickly that the main area of concern for Nadal comes against bigger servers of the ball.

I will keep this one short and sharp as it is quite a small play, however Sam Querrey isn’t holding back on his serve, and he is hitting it mighty well this week. The total games over 33.5 seems a touch low considering Querrey’s serve and his ability to have patches of quality return tennis. Querrey has also managed to snag a win against Nadal on hardcourt in their last meeting.

Whilst Nadal should be too good overall, I still wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see a tiebreak or two, or Querrey snatch a set here, making the over 33.5 games a really enticing prospect for a small play.

We have seen what Nadal can do against smaller servers (eg. Sousa) and how he has had a harder time against bigger servers (eg. Kyrgios), so this seems worth at least a 1.5 unit selection. As I think the money for over 33.5 games will disappear, I will record this at over 34.5 games

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Over 34.5 games for 1.5 units

Svitolina v Muchova

As fantastic as the 13-11 third set win from Muchova was over Pliskova yesterday, situationally it has come at the worst time for the tournament. After a physically taxing match that spanned over three hours and involved a number of twists and turns, Muchova is now expected to back up on court 23 hours later and face one of the freshest players remaining in the draw in Svitolina.

The counterpunching style that we see from Svitolina was going to hold her in good stead today against Muchova, however the incredibly soft run for Svitolina (due to injuries to opponents) as well as the brutal scheduling for Muchova make the confidence in this selection even stronger. The only way I can see Muchova covering here is with an incredibly high first serve percentage, as we saw her struggle behind that second ball against Pliskova yesterday.

Playing Svitolina with heavy legs would be, along with maybe Halep and Kerber, one of the more difficult tasks in women’s tennis at the moment. Each point will be extended, and the wear and tear on the body will become more and more evident as the match progresses, and if Svitolina can continue to limit her errors in key moments, she should win this one comfortably.

Happy to make a 5 unit selection here on match-up and situational factors. For those after some longer odds you could make a case for a 6-0/6-1/6-2 first or second set if Muchova is either slow to get away or runs out of gas.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Svitolina -3.5 games for 5 units

Note: Would also consider Svitolina first set 6-0/6-1/6-2 for those wanting something a little more exotic.


Zhang v Halep

There is an interesting feel to Zhang vs Halep in my opinion. It was a win over Halep that caused Zhang to break her major duck egg at major level at the Australian Open in 2016, and now it is Halep that stands between Zhang and her best ever result at a major.

Much like that impressive run in 2016, it is hard to find the form to draw on from Zhang in the lead-up to this tournament.  She looked to have made slight progress in the tournaments she played building up to Wimbledon, however I did not expect her to go on such a run this fortnight.

There are a couple of performances in the row that have caught my attention. The first was her comeback win against Wozniacki, where she took complete control of the match with power hitting. She was then able to back that up with a more-rounded performance against Yastremska, winning well in 3 sets.

Zhang will enjoy having a bit of extra time on the ball today, and she will definitely be going from broke on the return of serve, which is an area of vulnerability for Halep at the moment. We saw what Anisimova could do to Halep on clay with power hitting, and hard, flat striking of the ball here could put Halep in a precarious situation.

Halep has been solid without setting the world on fire this week, and looks a touch short considering her biggest struggle this week has come against another firm striker of the ball in Buzarnescu.

Look for the Chinese world number 50 to attack today at every opportunity. We saw what she was capable of against similar competition and style in Wozniacki, and at $5 we know she won’t die wondering, having beaten Halep twice before at longer odds. Worth a 2 unit selection.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Zhang to defeat Halep for 2 units

Djokovic v Humbert

After his win over Auger-Aliassime it seems that most are on the Ugo Humbert train, however I think that train has the potential to come crashing to a halt today in quite devastating fashion.

After impressive straight set wins over Kohlschreiber and Kudla on the way to the third round, world number 1 Novak Djokovic did find the going a little more difficult in round 3 against Hubert Hurkacz.

The Serbian was able to get over the line 7-5 6-7 6-1 6-4, and you could argue if not for poor break point conversion, with Novak converting 4 of 17 opportunities across 6 different service games throughout the match. Djokovic’s response to losing the second set was clinical, dropping 12 points for the third set in a dominant 6-1 display, and it exactly what you wanted to see from him in that situation.

Ugo Humbert has certainly made the most of his draw this week, having overcome an underdone Gael Monfils via a 5th set retirement, then defeating Granollers and Auger- Aliassime in straight sets. His wins were set up behind his serve, with Granollers and FAA in particular struggling to get a read on the first serve.

The issue for today is the fact that one of Djokovic’s biggest strengths completely undermines one of the biggest areas of attack for Humbert over the last couple of matches.

Anything that goes into that backhand on Djokovic is going to come back consistently and with a lot of depth. Djokovic is looking more than solid enough on serve to seriously consider a very strong play here on Novak to cover his large handicap.

I don’t see the return game of Humbert being particularly successful against Novak on grass. When you consider Djokovic won 45% of return points against Kohlschreiber and 53% against Kudla, as well as keeping Hurkacz to under 70% behind his first serve, which averaged 14km/h faster than Humbert’s, then I think we could see a statement performance from Djokovic today.

Happy to make a 5 unit selection on Novak to cover the handicap against Humbert in the biggest match of his career.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Djokovic -9.5 for 5 units


Williams v Suarez Navarro

On current forms it looks as though the harder you strike the ball to Serena, the better she is striking the ball in response. Williams did the job against Goerges, using the German’s pace to her advantage repeatedly on her way to the straight set win. Today however, things will be a little different.

Flying under the radar on the outside courts this week has been Carla Suarez Navarro, who made 2 x major quarter finals last year, and a difficult opponent when everything clicks. She hasn’t had the best year to date; however, she has certainly put together a couple of very solid straight set victories on her way to the 4th round.

CSN has been able to limit her unforced errors quite well, and after her upset win in round 1 over Stosur, has handled Parmentier and Davis quite well in what was one of the more favourable 2nd and 3rd round draws.

Serena took a little while to get going this week, with a straight set win over Gatto-Monticone and a come-from-behind victory over one of the rising WTA stars in Juvan.

Things got back on track for the American in round 3, defeating Julia Goerges 6-3 6-4 without facing a break point opportunity. The ability for Williams to keep the length of points to a minimum was key, with Williams only needing to move on average 7.4 metres per point on the way to victory.

To have power to try and move Williams around is one thing, however if you cannot get Williams on the move consistently off limited tennis will lead to trouble, as Williams responds to shots with pace so well.

Whilst Williams is the clear favourite in this match and deservedly so, I think CSN provides enough variety and a different look here to be intriguing at odds over $5.50.

CSN has nothing to lose here in my opinion, and with her ability to change-up pace and provide some variety different to anything Williams has seen this year, I think there is enough in the price today for a 2 unit selection.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Suarez Navarro to defeat Williams for 2 units

Struff v Kukushkin

Considering Kukushkin was able to win nearly half of Isner’s first serve points that touched his racquet, Mikhail Kukushkin won’t be seeing too much here that isn’t familiar from a serving standpoint.

Jan Lennard Struff was again impressive in round 2 in his 4 set defeat of Taylor Fritz, however he is continuing to be rewarded for playing right on the limit. The match-up was quite favourable for the German, as the pace and spin generated by Fritz allowed Struff to generate easy power from a decent contact point that allowed him to attack.

Against one of the flatter strikers of the ball on tour today in Kukushkin, Struff won’t be afforded that luxury. Kukushkin has put together two very solid performances this week, and I don’t think he will be too phased by Struff on the other side of the net.

Struff leads the head to head 3-0 with all matches quite close. If Kukushkin can return serve in the similar fashion to his second round, and look to cramp Struff on his first groundstroke with a flat return, he could tip the scales in his favour today in surprising fashion.

I would have Kukushkin below $3, so regardless of result this looks to be a value selection today. Happy to make a 1.5 unit selection. Kukushkin is solid off both wings, and will make life difficult to Struff when he approaches the net today.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Kukushkin to defeat Struff for 1.5 units.


Tsonga v Nadal

After what was one of the more entertaining second round matches that I have witnessed in some time, things don’t get any easier for Rafael Nadal today as he faces Jo Tsonga in the third round.

These two have only played once before on grass, however it was back in 2011, with Tsonga coming from a set down to win in three sets. A lot of water has gone under the bridge for both players since then, so we cannot take too much from a lot of their previous meetings.

Jo Tsonga has well and truly flown under the radar through two rounds, with straight set wins over Tomic and Berankis on his way to the third round. I actually feel that similar to Kyrgios, Nadal on grass isn’t a bad match-up for the Frenchman.

The amount of spin that Nadal is able to generate on his forehand actually puts the ball more regularly into the preferred strike zone of Tsonga, who will look to set up points where he can and ripping anything that sits in his strike zone.

Tsonga continues to go about his business quietly, with his two losses this grass season to Raonic in a third set tiebreak, and Federer 5-7 in the third.

This is a MASSIVE danger game for Nadal, which is fascinating as he just came off one against Kyrgios as well. $6 for Tsonga looks a touch steep considering the form of both players on grass this year.

Tsonga is well and truly into this match up to his eyeballs, and provides a more rounded opponent that Kyrgios. Tsonga will need to continue to serve well, however he has shown himself capable of beating Nadal, with the Spaniard not setting the world on fire through the first two rounds.

Happy to make a 1.5 unit selection on Tsonga to cause the upset.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Tsonga to beat Nadal for 1.5 units

Goffin v Medvedev

This brings about the same match-up that I was involved in at the Australian Open, where Medvedev I must say made Goffin look a little bit silly by winning in straight sets that day.

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then, and I am confident of a significant reversal in form when these two meeting in the third round tonight.

I think this match-up on grass favours Goffin significantly, and a lot of that has to do with Medvedev’s reluctance to come to the net on most occasions.

We saw it time and time again in his second round meeting with Popyrin, with the Russian finding himself hesitating and caught in no-man’s land given his lack of confidence at the net. Against an incredibly effective grass-court player in Goffin, I think this will show up as a big negative for the Russian today.

Mid-range players who can hit their spots and grind out long rallies are an area of weakness for Medvedev. We have seen him struggle a bit more against the likes of Simon, Pouille and even took a couple of tiebreaks to get beyond Lorenzi in the first round.

With Goffin playing some incredibly high confidence tennis after a solid 3 week block, I like the Belgian to get over the line today.

Serving will be absolutely crucial here, as will returning serve early in service games. When ahead in his own service games, Medvedev has a tendency to go for it a little more on his second serve.

That doesn’t happen quite as much when behind in a service game, so it is something to watch and keep an eye on today. Unless Medvedev puts an exceptionally high percentage of first serves into play, I think Goffin will be progressing to the fourth round.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Goffin to defeat Medvedev for 4 units.


Bautista Agut v Khachanov

Another fascinating match-up here in my opinion, and one that looks to heavily favour the Spaniard on grass. With a match-up like this, you need to be sure that the player you are backing with a negative handicap is able to deliver a consistent brand of tennis, as facing a strong, big-hitting opponent can leave yourself open to the vulnerability of their opponent redlining for a set and making things a little difficult to manage.

I am confident there won’t be any such issues today with Bautista-Agut, who I think is still incredibly underrated on grass. I haven’t seen anything on grass in the 2019 season that leads me to believe that Khachanov has made any significant improvements on grass, and this looks to be a terrible match-up for the Russian.

Khachanov was able to claim victory on clay a couple of months ago in a tight 3-set match, however in this meeting of styles I actually think that clay is the best surface for him in this match-up, with grass the worst.

Bautista-Agut is an incredibly high-IQ player, and he knows exactly the game plan he needs to break down the game of Khachanov. The Russian’s game is built around his solid backhand, however RBA will be able to exploit the forehand on the lower bouncing grass.

We saw him break down the game of Khachanov over best-of-5 at the Australian Open, and personally I feel the -2.5 game handicap here is great value given the form of both players.

Albeit against weaker opponents, RBA has only dropped serve once for the tournament. With Khachanov struggling by Kwon and Lopez in 4 sets in each of the first two rounds, I see the Russian struggling today, and I expect him to be unable to cover the handicap.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Bautista-Agut -2.5 games for 3.5 units

Fuscsovics vs Fognini

I was initially interested in opposing Fucsovics in the first round against Novak, however he was incredibly impressive in his comeback from a set down to claim victory 3-6 6-4 7-6 6-2 in just over 2 and a half hours. The match could have been even more one sided were it not for Fucsovics converting only 8 of 19 break point opportunities, and Novak converting 6 of 7 of his own. Fucsovics was very composed at the net throughout, winning 80% of his 35 approaches to the net in victory.

Fabio Fognini got over the line in the first round in true Fognini fashion, claiming the win 5-7 6-4 6-3 4-6 6-4 in just under 3 and a half hours. The Italian has a habit of perhaps not doing things the easy way, and it showed again in round 1. He did a solid job behind his serve, winning 68% behind his first serve, however the lapses we have come to expect from the Italian were evident once again.

I was initially drawn to the underdog price of Fucsovics, especially when you consider how well he handled Novak in round 1, however I am more intrigued by the +2.5 game handicap. Fognini is a career 18-17 on grass. Of his 13-10 record, Fognini has only 4 wins over top 50 players, and Fucsovics plays above his ranking on grass. In 8 of his grass court matches in his career he has dropped a set 1-6, and three of those matches have gone on to be victories.

I think Fucsovics, who I like for the outright win here, is a really nice prospect today with the head start against a player capable of lapses over the best of 5 set format. If Fucsovics returns as well as he did against Novak, he wins.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2.5 units Fucsovics +2.5 games vs Fognini


Federer vs Clarke

I am struggling to find an area in this match where there is a ‘too close to call’ as to who is stronger in a department, and I cannot find anything coming close. Lloyd Harris absolutely redlined a first set against an admittedly nervous Federer, who struggled to cope with the conditions in the early stages. From there thought it was all one way traffic, as Federer chimed in with 42 winners and 14 unforced errors in what turned out to be a dominant 4 set win 3-6 6-1 6-2 6-2.

My worry for Clarke, who lost to Donskoy, Duckworth, Pouille and Londero in the lead-up, is that none of them come close to the level of opposition faced today. Clarke was the beneficiary of 58 unforced errors from Noah Rubin, winning their first round encounter 4-6 7-5 6-4 6-4. Clarke struggled at times to find the range with his first serve, managing just over half into play, and it is a worry today considering how well Federer neutralised the first serve of Harris.

I think the little slip up early from Federer has added a bit to the game total today, and I am happy to take a piece of the under 27.5 games. There is a little bit more breathing room in the total assuming there isn’t any 7-5’s or tiebreaks, and based on how Federer clicked into gear in those last three sets, I don’t see that being the case today.

In what is arguably the biggest match of his career, I don’t see Clarke being a significant challenge to Federer today, and that is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of to be honest.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 3 units Federer/Clarke under 27.5 games

Halep v Buzarnescu

I was genuinely concerned for Simona Halep in her first round match against Sasnovich, especially after her MTO. It didn’t look like the Halep we are all accustomed to on court, as she looked to be a half-step slow on a number of occasions.

I think Simona was able to make her way out of that second set deficit on name and reputation. Against a player like Sasnovich that isn’t the worst thing in the world, however things will be more difficult today against Buzarnescu, who won’t die wondering today.

Buzarnescu has had a poor run over the last 6-9 months (since she hurt her ankle before the US Open), however the signs of everything starting to click have been there for some time.

She led Ostapenko well in both sets last week before struggling to finish off, and rectified that in Round 1 on Monday with a dominant display of tennis against Pegula, breaking the American 6 times on the way to a 6-4 6-4 victory. It was a big step in the right direction after weeks and months of frustration.

Halep was saved in round 1 by the fact that Sasnovich dished up 11 winners and 34 unforced errors. Halep is a terrible match-up for Sasnovich, as she doesn’t have the power to hit through Halep and cause her to remain on the back foot. Buzarnescu is far more likely to be successful with this today.

Considering Halep looked a touch below 100% physically in round 1, and Buzarnescu’s power and attacking mindset are in play, I think this is worth a 2 unit selection on the head to head price of Buzarnescu. It generally takes a big striker of the ball to make Halep look unsettled on a tennis court, and I feel that can happen today.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Buzarnescu to defeat Halep for 2 units.


Granollers v Humbert

I am pretty keen to back up again today on Granollers as a slight underdog, as I was incredibly impressed with the way he handled Antalya champion Sonego in the first round. Outside of an early blip when serving for the first set, Granollers looked very good.

His variety and movement were looking as good as I can remember in some time, with the Spaniard producing only 10 unforced errors for the match.

The win would have been more dominant were it not for poor break point conversion, however the Spaniard was in control throughout, and it was the best I have seen him move around a tennis court in a long time.

I am still not sold on Ugo Humbert on anything that isn’t hardcourt, and a win in the 5th set via retirement from Gael Monfils isn’t going to change my mind.

Humbert just doesn’t look completely comfortable on the grass in my opinion, and based on what I saw of Granollers yesterday, as well as his performances through qualifying, I would have the Spaniard as a clear favourite today.

His variety and ability to sneak into the net at opportune times is just the type of player I would be happy to take against Humbert.

I think Granollers will be able to significantly disrupt the rhythm of Humbert, particularly in Granollers backhand to Humbert forehand situations, and should be progressing to the third round in my opinion.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Granollers to defeat Humbert for 4.5 units.

Strycova v Tsurenko

These two met a couple of times on the grass last year, and I personally backed Strycova at the game handicap in that first meeting in Birmingham, where Tsurenko retired with a back issue down 5-7 0-3.

Personally I don’t see a lot changing this year. If anything, Strycova is playing a touch more consistently, and Tsurenko has struggled since her appearance in the final in Brisbane to kick off the year.

Strycova has far too much variety for Tsurenko on grass, and the ball staying low reduces Tsurenko’s already low margin for error somewhat further. Tsurenko has been putting a high percentage of first serves into play and still struggling on this grass campaign, so if Strycova can bring a level similar to her recent tennis, she should win and cover the handicap.

I am not too worried about the retirement last week given she played a long week of singles and doubles in Birmingham. If there is an issue, the game handicap at least allows a refund in the case of a retirement.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Strycova -2.5 games for 3 units.


Monteiro v Nishikori

The odds on Nishikori to get the job done today are incredibly skinny here given Nishikori hasn’t played any lead-up competitive grass tournaments and his opponent looked pretty damn good in qualifying.

Outside of some exhibition tennis, we haven’t seen Nishikori on court since he was wiped off it by Rafael Nadal in the Quarter Finals at Roland Garros. He played the one exho in Hurlingham against Pouille, however it isn’t a lot of lead-in tennis when he is defending quarter final points from last year.

Nishikori had a bit of a charmed run last year with Christian Harrison, Tomic, Kyrgios and Gulbis, and I would argue he only beat Gulbis due to the Latvian injuring his knee during the third set.

Wimbledon hasn’t been the happiest of hunting grounds for Nishikori, and early tournament struggles have not been uncommon. A bit of a quirky one here, however I don’t feel Nishikori can be confidently backed in here below $1.10.

The grass does look on the slower side, and with the way Monteiro was able to qualify, he shouldn’t be double figures. Worth a 1.5 unit selection at a big price, as I have enough question marks.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Monteiro to defeat Nishikori for 1.5 units.

Vesely vs Zverev

What better way to kick off a major than to oppose Alex Zverev in some capacity. After what has been an incredibly disappointing year to date by his standards, Zverev managed to draw one of the more impressive qualifiers is Jiri Vesely in the first round.

Vesely is a lot better than his ranking currently suggests, with the Czech defending a solid chunk of points from his 4th round appearance here last year. That run included wins over Mayer, Schwartzman and Fognini before falling to Rafael Nadal.

Zverev has never really enjoyed Wimbledon, however it is worth noting that he did reach the 4th round a couple of years ago. Given his lead-in form has been quite average, and included losses to Brown in Stuttgart and Goffin in Halle, I don’t think I could confidently make a play on the German here given he is slated to give Vesely a +5.5 game head start from bookmakers.

Vesely’s serve has looked incredibly good through qualifying, dropping it only twice whilst winning all 7 sets across his matches against Bolelli, Menendez and Paul.

Grass is his best performed surface, and I just haven’t seen enough consistency from Zverev to feel comfortable taking him here with such a head start. Happy to side with the Czech at the handicap for 2 units.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Vesely +5.5 games vs Zverev for 2 units.


Granollers v Sonego

For Sonego, it was the biggest title of his career in Antalya, as he beat the heat…and an average field…to claim his first ATP title. His serve looked good, however by the end of the week the court wasn’t playing a great deal like a grass court, and players were dropping left and right.

Sonego’s list of conquests for the week ended as Sousa, Gunneswaran, Mannarino, Carreno-Busta and Kecmanovic. Mannarino was all over him early, before struggling in the heat and trailing off in set 3. It is also worth remembering that in the two weeks before his Antalya victory, Sonego lost to Kukushkin and Bachinger in his first matches of each week.

Coming off a long week in brutally hot conditions with a limited turnaround, I am a little surprised to see him so short against one of the best performed players through qualifying in Roehampton.

Marcel Granollers has looked exceptionally solid on grass over the last month, and was another to make his way through three rounds of qualifying without dropping a set. His conquests were Krstin, Kavcic and Balazs, not the strongest trio, however the consistency in his game is the main area of strength I wanted to highlight.

Granollers looked locked in from the start, winning 42, 43 and 44% of receiving points through the three rounds, with Kavcic able to put 62% of first serves in play and Balazs 70%. The Spaniard also faced only 4 break points across the 7 sets of tennis, dropping serve only twice.

Granollers hasn’t found Wimbledon to be the happiest of hunting grounds in the past, however neither has Sonego. Granollers made the semi finals in Newport last year, and with wins over Tomic, Barrere and Giron amongst others, it has been a pretty solid month for Granollers.

I cannot see how there isn’t a bit of carry over fatigue here for Sonego coming off last week. Unfortunately for him his side of the draw is scheduled for day 1, which has made things a little worse with a limited turnaround.

At an underdog price, I cannot let Granollers go around today without making a play on him.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Granollers to defeat Sonego for 2.5 units.

Welcome to the men’s preview for Wimbledon 2019. After a week of controversy around who sits at what seeding, it is good to see the draw is out and ready to be analysed. It looks to be another fascinating fortnight ahead, so let’s get stuck into each section of the draw in the search for some value.

First Quarter

The obvious standout name in this section is Novak Djokovic, who deservedly sits on the top line of betting for the tournament. We haven’t seen a lot of grass court tennis in the lead up to Wimbledon, however as the defending champion we are all aware of what the Serbian is capable of on grass. His first opponent is a tricky one in Kohlschreiber, however the best of 5 format will favour him in almost every match he plays for the fortnight.

At the bottom of the quarter is the number 8 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who made it to the 4th round here last year. He has certainly made a lot of strides in several areas over the last 12 months; however, I don’t feel as though all those improvements have translated to the grass, with losses to Jarry and Auger Aliassime so far this year on grass. Whilst he made a name for himself at the Australian Open, it is difficult to see Tsitsipas making a meaningful run on the grass this fortnight. I still don’t feel he is overly confident on the surface, and it will show in his section with several tricky opponents.

Of the rest of the seeds in this quarter, it is hard to look beyond David Goffin, who made the final in Halle last week. He has looked stronger as the grass season has progressed, and a favourable early draw should see him edge towards to second week.

Of the other seeds in the section, Daniil Medvedev has shown a little more on grass this year, however I don’t feel as though his game is suited to the best of 5 format on grass. Unless he was able to serve at his absolute top level, I cannot see him featuring beyond the first weekend. There isn’t any appeal in Dusan Lajovic as even if he reaches the third round, the first seed he faces is likely Djokovic. I’d have liked to see Felix Auger-Aliassime with a friendlier draw, however he could end up facing Pospisil, Dimitrov, Monfils and Djokovic just to reach the quarter finals. Speaking of Gael Monfils, I cannot make a case for him on his recent form, on his least favourite surface. Kyle Edmund has looked comfortable on court for the first time in a long time this week, however the best of 5 setup off an extended layoff may make things difficult, plus the pressure of the home crowd.

Of the unseeded players in this quarter, the players who could cause a stir in the first week include Alexei Popyrin, who may benefit from a tired Carreno Busta in the first round. Others capable of a run of a couple of matches, however unlikely to feature deep into outright calculations include Kudla, Dimitrov, Sonego, Chardy, Verdasco and Karlovic if he can find his first serve. Djokovic should be coming out of this section; however, I feel his biggest threat is Goffin.

Quarter 2

We have a really fascinating first round meeting at the top of this quarter, with 4th seed Kevin Anderson kicking off against Pierre Hughes Herbert. It is closely followed in terms of intrigue by the match at the bottom of the quarter in Alex Zverev vs Jiri Vesely. I feel Zverev is far too short for my liking here, and I still consider him to be largely unproven in the best of 5 format, especially on grass. There are a couple of big servers in this section including Milos Raonic, Karen Khachanov and Stan Wawrinka. With Raonic coming in under an injury cloud, I would rather watch him early on for the tournament. He should be able to make it through the first couple of rounds with minimal fuss, however things look likely to ramp up quite quickly from there.

A couple of the seeds in Guido Pella, Roberto Bautista Agut and Benoit Paire have the potential to cause shocks, however none have the tools in my opinion to make a deep run this fortnight on grass. A couple of unseeded players to watch include Feliciano Lopez, Miomir Kecmanovic and even potentially Jiri Vesely as mentioned earlier. I don’t think there will be any value around Lopez this week, as he is very much the flavour of the month after his title last week, and I don’t think the best of 5 format at his age and playing style is ideal. Vesely would be a bit of a low risk high reward type of setup, as a win would mean the ability to utilise the seeded draw of Zverev. One to think about.

If he is fit, Anderson needs to be respected here, however I just haven’t seen enough lead-up tennis to think he can get through 7 best of 5 matches at his current price. I think of the seeds, I would be most inclined to side with Milos Raonic, however I don’t think the tournament winner will be coming from this quarter.

Quarter 3

This is a fascinating quarter, with the obvious favourites leading the way. Whilst his draw does look to become quite difficult quite quickly, it is easy to see why Rafael Nadal is listed as the favourite in this section. He looked incredibly good on the clay, and last year you could make a case that his chances of winning were ruined by the roof in his epic with Novak Djokovic. When you look over a larger grass sample size however, it is hard to look at his current price as being value, especially with a couple of big servers lurking in the section.

It is a touch more appealing to be looking at the bigger servers when you consider the other top seed in this quarter is Dominic Thiem, who sits at a 14-13 record on grass for his career. His game isn’t suited to the grass, and I don’t think there is any value in his price currently.

A big server to keep an eye on in this section of the draw is Sam Querrey. After a long injury layoff, Querrey has put together a solid week of tennis in Eastbourne this week (albeit not the strongest field, however it is good to see him on court). I think if Querrey can bring his best from the first round, he has a great opportunity to steal Thiem’s draw, and it is quite a friendly one. To think the 4th round will be one of Thiem/Querrey/Garin/Rublev/Dellien/Millman/Andreozzi/Djere vs Simon/Caruso/Uchiyama/Sandgren/Fucsovics/Novak/Tiafoe/Fognini is quite interesting. Based on his form at Queens and the fact he looks back to a solid fitness base, a Gilles Simon or even a Dennis Novak at a really nice price here could find their way into the second week from a trading perspective. At the prices currently on of offer, Querrey in this top part of the quarter looks solid value.

The bottom half of the quarter is absolutely loaded. Outside of Rafael Nadal, you also have names like Marin Cilic, Nick Kyrgios, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Dan Evans, and even a couple of solid grass court players in Bernard Tomic, Adrian Mannarino and Jordan Thompson. From a futures standpoint there initially isn’t a lot of appeal in several them given the tough section of the draw, however I am happy to play around Kyrgios due to form and fitness. I am not sure Tsonga has a full Grand Slam fortnight in him, and Dan Evans will have to handle the pressure of the home crowd, which I would rather watch than invest in to be honest. I think in this quarter I would rather side with a player like Querrey or even a Simon from the top half and look for absolute carnage to unfold in the bottom half of the quarter.

Quarter 4

The key to this quarter is Roger Federer’s ability to conserve energy early in the week. Across the last year, Federer has only won his Grand Slam matches that have ended in straight sets and looking at his loss last year from 2 sets to 0 up against Anderson does highlight that fatigue setting in late in matches.

I am not going to spend too much time on this quarter given Federer’s impressive record on grass over the years, however there may be a player or two to keep an eye on here.

I am not overly comfortable investing in Borna Coric given his back issue in Halle last week, so from a big serving and conditions standpoint the next two that look likely are Matteo Berrettini and John Isner. Berrettini looks more suited on grass against big strikers of the ball, and his first round is a bit of a danger game in the best of 5 format if he cannot consistently find his range. If he looks solid in round 1, I would consider him from a trading standpoint given his section of the draw, as I don’t find the price on Kei Nishikori all that appealing given his overall form for his career at Wimbledon. A player like Jan-Lennard Struff could make a run in week one, however I don’t see him there at the pointy end of the tournament, same with Fritz/Berdych/De Minaur on form/fitness.

From purely a futures standpoint, there isn’t a lot appeal here. Federer should win the quarter; however, I have my doubts around him as the tournament progresses and the quality of opponent increases.

Summary

Based on the draw and the fact that Federer and Nadal are on the other side of the draw, this all opens quite nicely for Novak Djokovic. He looks to be the standout selection, and the best of 5 format helps him against his biggest threat in Federer at this stage of their careers.

Obviously, Djokovic is quite short, so it may be worth looking at a couple of trading options as well as the fortnight progresses. The second and third quarters look the best to search for a player to make a bit of a run, and a player like Sam Querrey may be worth a look. If he can play as he did in qualifying, a low risk high reward selection of Jiri Vesely is worth noting as well. If Zverev isn’t at 100% coming in and remains largely unproven consistently at best of 5 tennis, then Vesely could snatch his decent draw and go on a little run in week 1 at a huge price.

Outright Selection

Novak Djokovic

Longer Trading Selections

Sam Querrey

Milos Raonic

Jiri Vesely

Matteo Berrettini

Quarter Winners

1: Djokovic

2: Raonic

3: Nadal/Querrey

4: Federer

Quarter 1

What an absolutely loaded quarter we have here to kick things off for the WTA. You have the newly crowned world number one in Ash Barty, who leads the way as the favourite and hasn’t looked like losing lately given her confidence. The draw she faces here is likely to be far and away more difficult than her last couple of tournaments, Roland Garros included.

She is the one to beat, however that is unfamiliar territory for Barty. She is now the hunted instead of the hunter, and with all the pressure on her from the start of the week, and everyone wanting to knock her off her perch, I feel she may be a touch too short in the betting considering the players around her in the draw. A nice round 1 vs Zheng, however things have the potential to get tricky from the 4th round onwards most likely.

On the next line of betting is one of the draw floaters in the 11th seed Serena Williams. Given her lack of tennis, it is hard to get a gauge on how she is playing, and that in turn makes things incredibly difficult in this quarter. With an early meeting with Kristyna Pliskova and/or Julia Goerges makes things difficult to invest with confidence around this section, especially when you have the likes of the unseeded Maria Sharapova, and competent grass players in Donna Vekic and Belinda Bencic lurking as well.

That is already an impressive list, and the likes of Muguruza, Riske, Stosur and Pavlyuchenkova aren’t even mentioned. Just when you think there couldn’t be any more talent in this quarter, you look to the bottom of it and see Angelique Kerber’s name there. She has a tough match first up against the crafty Maria, however as the defending champion matches up relatively well on grass against most of those listed above, so she needs to best respected.

Massive quarter – the most stacked I can recall in recent time. If I had to side with a player or two, it would be Barty and Kerber.

Quarter 2

These players will be grateful they didn’t see their name fall in the first quarter, however there is still a bit of talent here worth respecting. Kiki Bertens hasn’t looked fantastic on grass this season, however her draw here does lead me to think she will be present in the second week of the tournament.

A first-round vs Minella, second against Rodionova/Townsend is a nice start, with a potential third round against Strycova/Tsurenko where things get a little interesting. At the prices currently I prefer Strycova to make a little bit of a run through the top part of this quarter. She is competent in terms of her all-round game and isn’t afraid to make her way into the net.

Of the top section of this quarter, it looks as though the value selections are Strycova and Mertens in my opinion, with the bonus that they wouldn’t meet each other until a potential fourth round encounter if things went well.

The lower part of this quarter looks to have some big names, but not a lot of form on grass. It is hard to see Petra Kvitova making a run coming off her arm injury and her first hit coming a couple of days ago, however her opponent in Ons Jabeur isn’t a picture of health either after rolling her ankle in Eastbourne.

The name that does stand out to me in this section is Johanna Konta, however my expectations are tempered somewhat by the significant pressure placed on her shoulders as the home crowds biggest hope. A player like Sloane Stephens brings her best at major level, however a 19-14 career grass court record isn’t great considering her odds.

From an outright perspective I would be more inclined to bet into this quarter if they didn’t need to meet the winner of quarter 1 in the semi final. I would be more inclined I think to have a go at Mertens and/or Strycova from the top part of this draw to make a decent push to the second week, as Konta is a touch under the odds, but worthy of respect in the outright market.

Quarter 3

If there was ever a time and a draw for her to take advantage of in a major, this is it for Karolina Pliskova. I must say I would have preferred her to take the week off before Wimbledon, as this looks to be an incredibly favourable draw. In the quarter betting she does look a little too short though, and I much prefer her at the outright prices.

She could play some erratic players, however looking at her game recently there isn’t much to fault. She should be able to handle the likes of Ostapenko, Kontaveit, Vondrousova, Sevastova, Sakkari and Martic, who all lurking, however if she serves like she did in Eastbourne it is hard to see myself opposing Pliskova in any meaningful way early in the fortnight.

I haven’t seen enough consistency from Ostapenko or Kontaveit; Vondrousova has not shown me that the grass surface is to her liking, and Sevastova/Martic/Sakkari would all have to face each other or the likes of Svitolina before getting a crack at Pliskova. The top half of the section does look wide open, and a player like Anna-Lena Friedsam could cause a couple of upsets early in the week if she is on her game.

As I said above, I think there is more value in the Pliskova outright than there is the Pliskova to win her quarter odds.

Quarter 4

If you are willing to play around some of the favourites in Osaka, Halep, Keys, Wozniacki and Garcia, there is quite a bit of value about some of the mid-range players in this quarter.

I haven’t seen enough from Osaka recently on grass to consider her a top hope – I don’t think the surface suits. She did struggle a bit with the title of world number 1, so with that off her shoulders things may improve a touch. I am not actively opposing her; however, I also don’t like the look of her odds, especially with a first round against a player that defeated her a couple of weeks ago.

Halep has made the semi final here in the past in 2014, however her match against Kerber a couple of days ago did concern me, and her ability to be outhit on the grass worries me at her price.

Keys just hasn’t played enough tennis recently for my liking; however, she is another I wouldn’t actively look to oppose. If she looks to be moving well in the early rounds, I will make a call regarding an outright selection, however off no grass tennis I am happy to look elsewhere.

Wozniacki hasn’t grabbed me in terms of form over the last 6 months, and again looks a touch too short on grass to be honest. Garcia just still appears to lack that bit of killer instinct that would see her as value in outright markets, so it is time to look a little deeper.

One player that has found a bit of confidence recently is Sofia Kenin, who managed to go on a nice run in Mallorca the other week and looks to have lifted her game significantly this year. I think her draw is quite friendly and she is a big chance of making the quarter finals at least looking at the draw (unless Astra Sharma can play a phenomenal first round match that is – she is a bit of an unknown).

I don’t see Azarenka going on a significant run this week and looks to be just off the main pack. There is a heap of other players who could make a run at their best, however Magdalena Rybarikova at a big price may be the best of the bunch. Her grass form is sound with a 58-30 career record, and she has made the semi finals of Wimbledon previously.

If she can upset Sabalenka in round 1, which is certainly achievable on past form, then she could certainly spring a surprise this week. Others on that list include Yastremska, Swiatek, V Williams and even the likes of Kasatkina/Cornet/Giorgi, however there would need to be a significant change in form.

Summary

The first quarter here makes things very difficult in terms of selections for the fortnight, and it would be made a lot easier if we had more of an indication regarding the fitness of Serena Williams.

Nevertheless, a couple of selections from the second quarter for trading and the bottom half for outrights are value, and I may look to add a couple of things as we go along if anything stands out from the early matches.

The main outright selection of appeal is Karolina Pliskova given her draw. She looks to be serving incredibly well and has impressed me with her adjustments over the last 12 months and comfort at the net, which will hold her in good stead for the next fortnight.

From a trading perspective, Kenin looks the pick from the bottom half, and Mertens/Strycova from that slightly weaker second quarter.

Another fascinating, wide open major.

Outright Selection

Karolina Pliskova

Trading Selections

Sofia Kenin

Elise Mertens

Barbora Strycova

Longshot Trading Selections

Magdalena Rybarikova (although tough first round vs Sabalenka)

Anna-Lena Friedsam

Quarter Winners

1: Barty/Kerber

2: Mertens/Strycova

3: Pliskova

4: Kenin


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