Ace Tennis Previews: Wimbledon Tips

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

Scroll across in the menus below to see all the previews.

Djokovic v Berrettini

And another major tournament comes to an end. Thank you to everyone who has read along or got in touch across the course of what has been a very busy fortnight.

There is only one man capable of stopping Novak Djokovic from continuing his quest of the Golden Slam, and that is Italian Matteo Berrettini. Before looking at the match bets to finish the tournament, a quick look at the outright market and results that will eventuate depending on the outcome today.

Novak Djokovic Win = -2 units
Matteo Berrettini Win = +2 units

Not the best outcome considering the fortnight, but I also did feel it was important to not be over-exposed when playing around Djokovic. It would have been great for Medvedev and Rublev to have made their way to the semi-finals as heavy favourites, however, them both losing from 2 sets to 1 up made it difficult to work around too much in the semi-finals.

I will remove the unmatched 1 unit stake in the outright market on Novak Djokovic at $4, as given the dominance of Novak it is likely to require him being 2 sets to 0 and a break down, or down in a tiebreak where Berrettini is trying to close out the match.

Onto the match itself, and I am absolutely fascinated to see how the early stage of this match plays out. Out of the entire grass season played by Berrettini, the one match to date where he has looked genuinely nervy in patches was the final at Queens, where he defeated Cam Norrie in 3 sets. You could make a case that his other moment of difficulty was early in set 3 against Felix Auger Aliassime in the quarter-final, however, his serve held up incredibly well when needed.

He is serving big, and hitting big, taking control of the situation and being as assertive as he can. The real question in this match-up is whether Berrettini can keep Novak from finding a way to get the ball onto the backhand of the Italian consistently?

Whilst it is perfectly understandable for Berrettini to be on the nervous side in his first major final, it is also worth acknowledging the struggles of Novak in the first two sets of the Roland Garros final. At this stage of his career, he has made it abundantly clear that winning these tournaments is the primary goal. Whilst there will be some nerves there, it is hard to see it being in any way overwhelming given his track record at the highest level. Whilst there was some vulnerability against Denis Shapovalov, he still found a way to escape in straight sets in the semi-final.

This shapes up to be a fascinating match, and another one that is likely to depend on whether Berrettini, and to a lesser extent Djokovic, can find their first serves when under pressure. Just a small play, however, I will be making a 1 unit selection on the total games going over 38.5 games.

Berrettini has the game to pressure Novak, especially with a serve bigger than Shapovalov, who held comfortably for long periods of that semi-final. Nerves will be at play, which drops this staking, however, it still looks to be worth a small play as 4 sets should see this clear, as we saw at Roland Garros in their quarter-final.

Thanks again for following along this fortnight.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1 unit total games over 38.5 (recorded at $1.94)

Barty v Pliskova

Another major tournament edges towards its conclusion, with the women’s final between Ash Barty and Karolina Pliskova set to face off tonight.

There is still an outright in play in this match-up, with the overall stakings for the women’s tournament set to result in the following ways:

If Barty wins = -0.32 units
If Pliskova wins = +2.9 units

Whilst it could have been better, it also could have been a lot worse. The position here is largely the result of a 0.1 unit staking on Pliskova at $60 pre-tournament. Pliskova has been exceptional throughout the course of the tournament, however there are some question marks I do have here that make this match-up a little tougher for the Czech.

Whilst Pliskova has made her way through to the final whilst only dropping one set, she has been fortunate in her run involving facing players who are relatively one-dimensional, or not overly suited to the grass. As good as they all are, Vekic, Martincova, Samsonova, Golubic and Sabalenka are all players that are heavily reliant on their plan A working well, as they lack plan B’s (outside of perhaps Golubic who has a bit of variety, but didn’t get much of a chance to show it in their match-up). For what it is worth, after Sabalenka produced an impressive tactical performance against Jabeur in the quarter final, it was her turn to receive a similar fate against Pliskova. Too many players find themselves in a power battle against Sabalenka, however Pliskova took some chances and took some of her pace off the ball to disrupt the rhythm of Sabalenka, and it worked perfectly through sets 2 and 3.

Another match with a slight hiccup (start of the second set), and another victory notched up for Ash Barty. It was a nervous start for the Australian, however her ability to get out of her first service game unscathed set the tone for the first set, and her tennis in set 2 from 3-5* was incredibly impressive. To end with a +22 winners to unforced errors ratio against a player who is so good at defending and extending points in Angelique Kerber is one of the more impressive parts of the semi-final, and I don’t see her having a tougher time of things today in what I perceive to be a more favourable match-up.

Whilst I do like the total games under 21.5, I am more inclined to take on the possibility of Pliskova winning in under 21.5 games and instead take Barty 2-0 set betting at over $2. I think this is a better match-up for Pliskova on the hardcourts than the grass, especially given the Barty slice is going to so frequently keep the ball out of the striking zones preferred by Pliskova. If Barty continues to produce at her level across week 2, she should be winning here.

If you got involved in the outrights and have the same scenario as I do, I would consider a 2.4 unit staking on Barty to win the tournament. Given I favour her heavily here, I cannot have the outright scenario above favouring such a positive result for Pliskova winning in comparison to Barty. Pliskova will need to serve incredibly well today, as I don’t think she has as many tactics capable of beating Barty line she did Sabalenka. I am happy to take on Pliskova.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Barty 2-0 set betting vs Pliskova (recorded at $2.02)

IF ON OUTRIGHT STAKINGS ACROSS TOURNAMENT

BACK – 2.4 units Barty to win the tournament outright (recorded at $1.45)

The semi-finals are here, with three players making their debut this deep in a grand slam in Matteo Berrettini, Hubert Hurkacz, and Denis Shapovalov. It wouldn’t be the same without the other player though, with Novak Djokovic making another deep run in a grand slam in his quest for the golden calendar slam.

Let us take a look at both of the matches on offer today from Wimbledon.

Berrettini v Hurkacz

If you didn’t know too much about Hubert Hurkacz already, the demolition job of Roger Federer on the main stage of Wimbledon surely got your attention.

Whilst the Pole admitted that he was incredibly tired through the majority of the clay season, largely off the back of two titles (especially the Miami ATP1000 title), he looks to have finally found his groove again on the hallowed turf of Wimbledon.

Whilst the form from him coming in wasn’t exceptional, he is the type of player that does have the tools to be a threat on the surface. He has a strong first serve, he has no discernible weakness off either wing, and he is more than capable at the net. The last point is the point I want to focus on here, as that is a crucial element to this match that may be overlooked in the current odds.

Whilst the backhand of Matteo Berrettini is certainly improving, it does still look a little nervy when he is rushed and put under pressure. For all the good tennis the Italian has played over the course of the grass season, he didn’t have as much comfort on his serve in his quarter-final against Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Down double break early in the third set, Berrettini was able to go big on his first serve, putting two unreturnable balls into play to help stave off some pressure. The pressure came far more regularly than we are accustomed to though, and with Hurkacz able to force the issue and make the Italian make some tough decisions with his opponent charging the net, I don’t see Berrettini having everything going his way today.

My preference here lies with the game handicap for Hurkacz. If he can continue to look after his serve, continue to come into the net and take the game on and keep the pressure on Berrettini, I like his chances of covering the +3.5 game handicap today.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Hurkacz +3.5 games vs Berrettini (recorded at $1.90)


Djokovic v Shapovalov

Happy to give Denis Shapovalov three chances to win this selection given the form he has been able to display at his top-level across the fortnight. Can he pull off the upset though?

Whilst there have been some lapses from Shapovalov, his ceiling when it comes to his tennis on the grass this fortnight has exceeded my expectations. After being a set away from a round 1 defeat to Philipp Kohlschreiber, the Canadian has done a fantastic job in key moments against the German as well as Karen Khachanov in the quarter-final.

He has hit 37 double faults through his four matches (awarded a walkover vs Andujar in round 2), however, that is something that backers will need to live with when Shapovalov is playing such an aggressive game. His record against Novak isn’t fantastic, winning only the two sets, however, they have never played on grass and their last three sets have gone 7-6 7-5 7-5 across their two ATP Cup meetings. Does the Canadian have a set in him?

I think taking Shapovalov to win a set (or setting a ‘lay’ bet on Djokovic 3-0 set betting) looks to be a better play than taking the game spread for the Canadian at their respective prices. I will however be adding a play on the money line given the current odds. This allows three opportunities for Shapovalov to find that top-level within this match (which would result in a profitable outcome were he to win a set), without taking of Novak Djokovic over the course of a larger sample size.

Over the long term, I see far more value in the money line selection on Shapovalov at $10 than I do at taking the +7.5 game handicap sub $2 match after match.  Djokovic has been impressive in his 15 sets since dropping the opener to Jack Draper, however, he has opened himself up to players having opportunities to break his serve across the fortnight.

I maintain from my comments earlier in the tournament that it is likely going to take a player absolutely redlining their level to be a threat to Novak, and whilst I am going to make a small play on the Canadian now that the money line has hit $10, the key play here is Shapovalov to win a set. Denis will need to be aggressive and take control of when rallies are re-directed consistently, as well as maintain that aggression on his serve. These two bets look to be value at the odds.

Suggested Bet

 LAY — 3-0 set betting for liability of 1.5 units to WIN 1.8 units

BACK — 0.8 units Shapovalov to defeat Djokovic (recorded at $10)

The semi-finals are here, and what a fascinating couple of matches we have in store from Wimbledon tonight.

I was aggressive in terms of the outright portfolio at the quarter-final stage, and whilst Tomljanovic and Golubic, the worst results, both lost, the two largest potential returns in Muchova and Jabeur also lost. I will not be making any further updates to this outright book with only three matches remaining for the tournament.

Barty v Kerber

This match has all the makings of a classic, with the winner here likely to be a favourite heading into the Wimbledon final.

The Bad Homburg form of last week has held up, with Angelique Kerber making her way through what initially looked to be a stacked section of the draw to reach the semi-finals. After scares early in the tournament against Sara Sorribes Tormo and Aleksandra Sasnovich, Kerber has looked impressive through her fourth round and quarter-final wins against Coco Gauff and Karolina Muchova. The German had too much variety and experience against the pair. She is one of the best counterpunching players in the game, and with her renewed confidence will find herself to be a very tough out today for number 1 seed Ash Barty.

Whilst Barty also dropped a set in round 1 to Carla Suarez Navarro, she has also looked to get stronger as the tournament has progressed. She has had some lapses, including a slow start against Roland Garros Champion Barbora Krejcikova, however, she has been able to build into her matches as she starts to trust her body more on her return to the tour post-injury.

The serve will be key, and it is worth noting that Barty’s second serve speeds are only a touch slower than Kerber’s first serve speed averages for the tournament. That is a significant advantage, especially when you consider the rate in which Barty has been able to pressure on the return of serve.

If you are not too sure whether or not you are a capable tennis player at the net, you are likely to find out during a match against Kerber. Whilst there is generally some appeal in opposing players who do not have a fully developed all-around game against Kerber, this is not the case with Barty across the net.

Whilst it has taken a while for her to click at times across the fortnight, the best tennis from the racquet of Barty tops the others remaining in the field. What I am concerned about however is the consistency in which she will be able to produce this level with Kerber at the other end of the court. Barty is a deserving favourite, however, I would be surprised to see her completely dominate this match from start to finish.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1 unit Barty/Kerber total games over 21.5 (recorded at $1.84)


Ka Pliskova v Sabalenka

Someone is going to break through here. Will it be Aryna Sabalenka for her first grand slam final, or Karolina Pliskova for her second?

Whereas there will be a lot of variety on offer in the first semi-final, there will be a lot more power on offer in this one. Karolina Pliskova has figured out a way to turn around what has been a poor season by her standards, with the Czech largely untroubled since Tamara Zidansek served for the first set against Pliskova in round 1.

Fast forward to the semi-finals and Pliskova is still yet to drop a set, which is a testament to her consistency, regardless of opposition strength, something that has been missing for most of the year. What is also lost in looking at the wins on paper is just how strong the win was over Samsonova, given her form in the lead-up. She is serving well and hitting her spots well for long periods. Whilst I am not entirely sold on her price to win this match outright being value, I do feel this is a match-up she can hold her own in and keep close.

Perhaps all it took was overcoming a little bit of early tournament adversity for Aryna Sabalenka to click into gear and find success at a grand slam. After being well and truly on the ropes early in the tournament against Katie Boulter, Sabalenka has also been able to consistently up her level across the course of the tournament.

She appears to be playing with more patience and variety of late, and her performance against Ons Jabeur was one of the more tactically complete performances I have seen at the WTA level in recent times. She took the most of her opportunities late in set 1 and was able to use that momentum to keep the pressure on Jabeur in the second set.

Much like the first semi-final, I envisage this to be a close battle, coming down to who can find first serves and stave off pressure in key moments.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units total games over 21.5 (recorded at $1.82)

We are back with the men’s quarter-finals from Wimbledon today. The conditions look to be a little better today, however there is still the possibility of rain leading to the roof being shut on the main courts. With the roof changing the dynamics of some of the matches, it is worth noting.

The fourth round was not a good round for the Russian outrights, with both Andrey Rublev and Daniil Medvedev losing their matches from leading positions. Regarding the live outrights, only Felix Auger-Aliassime and Matteo Berrettini remain, guaranteeing a semi finalist on the more favourable side of the draw.

If you wanted to even out the position between Auger-Aliassime/Berrettini a little more I wouldn’t be opposed to it, especially given I have FAA to win the quarter being settled on the match this evening. Regarding outright additions, I don’t want to find myself dabbling with too many more units into an outright market that Novak Djokovic is absolutely dominating.


Djokovic vs Fucsovics

Whilst Marton Fucsovics has continued to impress for the fortnight, I do question whether he has enough offensive firepower in these conditions to be considered a genuine threat to Novak Djokovic here in the quarter finals.

Whilst critics have suggested it has been an easy draw for Djokovic, there is not a lot he can really do besides beat the players on the other side of the court. Since dropping a set to Jack Draper first up, the Serbian has not dropped another one, although he went close against American Denis Kudla in Round 3. His first serve points won are exceptional, allowing him to find his way out of any trouble he faces on serve. He is looking stronger at the net, and barring a player absolutely redlining their game, it is a tough ask to overcome a player with such a first serve percentage coupled with quality movement. Does Fucsovics tick the boxes here?

For me he does not. Whilst Fucsovics has done a great job of exposing the weaknesses of his opponents on the grass across the last 9 days, there just is not enough for him to target here. Djokovic gets too many returns in play and finds too many ways back into points consistently for the Hungarian to be a threat here. I will be taking this game falling under the game total of 28.5 games for 1 unit.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1-unit total games under 28.5 (recorded at $2.02)


Khachanov vs Shapovalov

I must say, I did not have these two meeting in the quarter finals for the fortnight.

Had you told me that I would be backing Karen Khachanov in some capacity, with the Russian losing serve six times in the last set that he played, I would have probably laughed you out of the room. The final set between Khachanov and Korda, a set that involved 13 out of the 18 service games ending in breaks, is one of the more fascinating, and absurd, sets of tennis I can recall. For what with was worth for the Russian, his service games were certainly a lot closer than the majority of Korda’s service games, with Khachanov playing from in front for most of the business end of the set. Is that set enough to overlook what got Khachanov to that point in these conditions at Wimbledon? No.

Khachanov is now only two matches removed from beating Frances Tiafoe without facing a break point. Further to that, his ability to win most of the key points through matches with McDonald and Gerasimov was somewhat uncharacteristic, albeit a welcome change for a player that has shown so much potential over the years for such little success. Is he value today as an underdog against Denis Shapovalov?

He may be slight value; however, I do find some appeal in the game handicap in this one. This is a second career grand slam quarter final for both players, with Shapovalov coming into this one with wins over Roberto Bautista Agut and Andy Murray in straight sets. Both wins perhaps look a little better on paper than they do in terms of quality of win, given where Murray is at his stage of his career and the issues Agut has endured across the tournament physically. It could have been a very different tournament for the Canadian, were it not for a lift in level in his 5th set against Philip Kohlschreiber in round 1.

Shapovalov has done a great job of finding first serves in key moments of pressure. He has saved 26/34 break point chances he has faced through his three matches this week, which is impressive given his second serve can go through phases of being a little shaky. Is that sustainable?

I do not see this as a particularly bad match-up for Khachanov, especially in the Shapovalov forehand to Khachanov backhand exchanges. There will be nerves from both, however looking at the game handicap, I cannot pass up a small play on the Russian at the +4.5 games, which I will take for 1.5 units.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Khachanov +4.5 games vs Shapovalov (recorded at $1.98)

Of the four players backed in the outright market before the tournament, it is nice to see three of those players remaining come the final eight. With Ash Barty added to the portfolio yesterday, there are now live positions in each of the four quarter-finals today. Hopefully, there is a little more luck than the quarter-finals at Roland Garros, where we saw Badosa lose to Zidansek 6-8 in the third set and Rybakina lose 7-9 in the third set to Pavlyuchenkova.

The largest results in the current portfolio are Karolina Muchova and Ons Jabeur, the two players who look to come into this slate of matches tonight as underdogs in their respective matches with Angelique Kerber and Aryna Sabalenka. To reduce the risk on both Kerber and Sabalenka, I will be adding 0.5 units to each on the outright market as the only extra moves prior to the quarter-final.

This leaves the results for each of the 8 players remaining were they to win as follows:

PlayerOddsStakeResult if wins outright
Petra Kvitova170.6OUT
Karolina Muchova380.515.8
Ons Jabeur380.412
Karolina Pliskova600.12.8
Ash Barty4.80.6-0.32
Angelique Kerber6.80.50.2
Aryna Sabalenka5.50.5-0.45
Viktorija GolubicNo BetNo Bet-3.2
Ajla TomljanovicNo BetNo Bet-3.2

Note, these results include the 0.6-unit loss on Petra Kvitova in this market (which won’t show up on your current book but is worth noting regarding the overall book).

Where to from here? I may make some more moves in the semi-finals, and hopefully one (or both) of Muchova and Jabeur can be there to make it a better result. The worst way home is -3.2 units, but there is the possibility to reduce this risk come the semi-final, as I would assume Golubic and/or Tomljanovic will still be the outsider in the overall market at that point in time.

Added Selection:

BACK — 0.5 units Sabalenka to win outright (recorded at $5.50)

BACK — 0.5 units Kerber to win outright (recorded at $6.80)

Ka Pliskova v Golubic

Whilst I have been keen on the chances of Viktorija Golubic a couple of times through the first week of the tournament, the further this tournament progresses, the less inclined I am to support her at the prices being offered.

Whilst it had been a relatively soft draw through the first three rounds for Karolina Pliskova, the win over Liudmilla Samsonova cannot be underestimated. It is very rare for Pliskova to be outhit in the areas of first-serve top speed, average first-serve speed, and average second serve speed, but that was the case against Samsonova.

She is hitting her spots well behind the first serve, and although the double fault numbers are a touch high, from observing her matches it looks as though she is starting to appreciate to need to go for a touch more on the second serve given the returning ability of so many WTA players. What she does have now in this bottom half is the experience edge over each of the other three, having reached a grand slam final previously in her career. Will that help her today?

I think it may be beneficial to Pliskova given the quality of tennis we have seen from her. She has been able to build her way into the tournament and is unlikely to be as erratic as the other players that Golubic has faced over the course of the tournament. Part of the reason why my staking on Golubic was so low against Kudermetova in round 1 was the fact Golubic has form when it comes to the occasion getting the better of her.

We saw it against Kontaveit in the lead-up tournament last week, and although Keys let her off the hook in the last round, Golubic had a *5-2 first set lead that ended with her taking a tiebreak. Golubic only produced 9 unforced errors which was impressive, however, I do not think the body of form and opponent strength through week 1 to justify the price here so deep in a grand slam.

I had Pliskova giving up -4.5 games in this match-up, so to see a nice price on -3.5 games looks worthy of a play. I will take Pliskova to win and cover for 1.5 units.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Pliskova -3.5 games vs Golubic (recorded at $1.92)


Jabeur vs Sabalenka

This match has the potential to be the match of the day, as both Ons Jabeur and Aryna Sabalenka try to improve on career-best fortnights by reaching a grand slam semi-final for the first time.

There are a couple of reasons why the total games going over the total of 21.5 games appeals in this match-up. Both players have shown over the course of the tournament that they are more than capable of wrestling back momentum after slow starts, and both have also shown in the past that nerves can get the better of them in some of the bigger moments of their career. This looks to be a great spot to tackle the over.

Whilst I do think there is slight value in the Jabeur price, there is not enough to place units on this particular match. I am wary of Sabalenka here in the outright picture, which is something I did not think I would be saying. Earlier in the year, I said that I would rather miss the bus on Sabalenka winning a grand slam in the years to come, so long as it meant I didn’t jump the gun and get on the ‘wrong bus’ multiple times trying to catch her. Whilst I have not flipped my position on her significantly, I have reduced my risk around her by over 2.5 units in the outright book.

The key shot in this match-up will be the Jabeur first serve percentage, as well as her ability to use the dropshot. Sabalenka still does not look to be at her most confident at the net, but given her aggressive play, it might cause Jabeur to occasionally bite off more than she can chew, leaving dropshots short into the net. Look for an incredibly tight contest here, as both look toward a semi-final where they would most likely start as favourites against either Pliskova or Golubic.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1-unit total games over 21.5 (recorded at $1.86)

I thought I would kick off week two with an update on the futures situation here in both the men’s and women’s tournaments, and quickly address each player that remains.

ATP

Novak Djokovic (current price $1.56): Sitting at $1.56 with one of the easier draws in terms of fourth round opponent. Whilst he has only dropped the one set on the way to this stage, he has found himself making minor lapses through week one, and nearly dropped a set to Denis Kudla as well. I am very close to getting involved in his price into the outrights, however, the fact there is rain scheduled for each day of the second week of the tournament does drop the value on him slightly in my opinion.

Daniil Medvedev (current price $11): Drifted in the market, largely due to a combination of a couple of lost sets, and Federer making his way through to the second week. I do still feel at the very least he should be able to make the semi-final unless he cannot find a way to handle the crowd and Federer were he to meet them both in the quarter final.

Roger Federer ($14.5): There are two schools of thought on the first week from Federer. The first is that he is coming through some significant tests in defeating Adrian Mannarino (who injured himself up 2 sets to 1) and Cam Norrie (tight 4 set match), and the second is that he found himself tested by Adrian Mannarino and Cam Norrie. It would be one of the more phenomenal grand slam titles of his career, however, the cumulative impact of a QF, SF, and final against the caliber of opponents he is likely to face is likely a little too much for me to take that price.

Matteo Berrettini ($14.5): Continues to serve big and attack with his forehand. Sits at $14.5 due to facing Ivashka in the 4th round which is one of the softer draws given he will play the winner of Auger-Aliassime vs Zverev. Worth a slight consideration for trading purposes, which I will look to here, however, may find the tight moments of the last weekend of a grand slam a little too much.

Alexander Zverev ($22): Flying under the radar, however, given his tricky 4th round match with Felix Auger-Aliassime set for today, I do not feel compelled to take this price to beat, at worst: FAA, Berrettini, Medvedev/Federer, and Djokovic.

Denis Shapovalov ($38): Not compelled by this price now. Curious to see how he handles the consistency of Roberto Bautista Agut today, coming off his big win against Andy Murray on the main court on Day 5. Needs to serve well and continue to win where there are fine margins.

Andrey Rublev ($48): Perhaps the roof may be his friend in week 2? Had to endure some topflight redlining from Fabio Fognini in round 3, and he found a way to overcome his own frustration and progress. Gets Fucsovics here in round 4 for a shot at you would think Djokovic in the ¼ final. Already involved on Andrey, so will hold fire for another round.

Seb Korda ($70): It would be a phenomenal effort for Korda to win his first grand slam, and the odds still suggest that. Nearly threw away a commanding position against Dan Evans, only days after nearly doing the same against Alex De Minaur. I feel somewhere along the way a top calibre player will make him pay for his mistakes. This fortnight will be great experience for him moving forward.

Felix Auger Aliassime ($95): It looks as though Felix will need to make his way through the most difficult run of opponents, and his price reflects that. Things get tough for him tonight with Alexander Zverev across the net. I have him slight value in this match though, and with the outright stake for him split across the outright and the quarter winner, a solid performance tonight can open some opportunities for the Canadian.

Hubert Hurkacz ($160): His form looks to be improving; however, I am not sure he does enough things better than Daniil Medvedev to be a significant threat to him here. Even if he does defeat Medvedev, it will not be getting any easier for three more wins. The only major way to profit from this price from a trading standpoint probably relies on Djokovic being eliminated on current form.

Karen Khachanov ($150): Whilst he has been serving well and winning most of the key moments through week one, it is another thing entirely for him to do it in week two of a grand slam. At coin flip odds against Korda today and is another I cannot entertain. May be worth a play at long odds in certain matchups but the outright is a stretch.

Roberto Bautista Agut ($170): Underdog in his fourth-round match and would likely need to beat Novak to reach the final. Tough ask on both fronts. I think I prefer others.

Lorenzo Sonego ($310): Has the ability to upset week 2 plans if he can challenge Roger Federer in round 2. He looks to be capable of that upset, however, he would need a LOT to go right for him in the outright market.

Ilya Ivashka ($650): It is a no from me.

Marton Fucsovics ($640): See Ilya Ivashka.

Cristian Garin ($750): If you have outrights on anyone that does not have the surname Djokovic, you are cheering for him today. That does not mean you need to back him in the outright markets though.

Summary

Will I be making any additional plays here? Just a 0.25-unit selection on Matteo Berrettini. Whilst Zverev is also a threat, I have his biggest threats in the bottom half being Medvedev, Federer and Auger-Aliassime. Given I am happy to play around Federer for now, and I have outrights on the others, I am happy to make this addition to the selections from the bottom half.

In the top half I will not be making any changes. I will be looking for Rublev to defeat Fucsovics to set up a quarter-final with Cristian Garin Novak Djokovic, and if that eventuates, I will be waiting to see what the weather serves up for their potential match. Of the players remaining in the second quarter, I think Djokovic should be too strong for them, and if for some reason it is Rublev in the semi-final, he would also be in with a great shot against anyone in the quartet.

I have very nearly taken Medvedev for a little more as well but will hold for now.

Added Selection:

BACK — 0.25 units Matteo Berrettini to win outright (recorded at $15)


WTA

Ash Barty ($4.8): I mentioned on the Betfair Edge show yesterday that if you were not already involved in Barty at any prices, now is probably the time to make a move. Looks a decent price in her 4th round match against Krejcikova, and with one of the easier quarter-final matchups of the draw predicted (Raducanu/Tomljanovic). Looks to be improving her tennis as the tournament progresses and is worth a small play at the price.

Iga Swiatek ($7.8): Finds herself in one of the more competitive 4th round matches (vs Jabeur) yet is sitting second in the betting market. I think there may have been a little too much read into the win over Begu in round 3 and the way in which she won. Not sure I can take the current odds.

Aryna Sabalenka ($8): Whilst I have been critical of the form of Sabalenka at grand slam level, I am slowly starting to warm to her. Given her odds are a touch short today against Rybakina in a match where I feel sorry for the tennis balls, I am going to hold fire. If she wins today, I will look to keep her safer in the market given how the bottom half is opening a bit.

Coco Gauff ($10.5): Her first serve has become one of the bigger offensive weapons on tour. My worry for her at the current price is the variety that may be coming her way en route to the final. Kerber is no pushover, Muchova/Badosa and then potentially Barty is a tough ask. Looked to struggle a little bit with the occasion at Roland Garros late in the tournament. If she were in the bottom half of the draw, I would be more intrigued.

Ons Jabeur ($16): She looked to feel the pressure early in her third-round match with Garbine Muguruza. Once she got the nerves out of her way (for the most part), she was able to bring a level that is going to be hard for anyone to beat. Faces a very tough 4th round match with Iga Swiatek, so no value currently in the $16, however, I am happy to continue with the pre-tournament outright for now.

Angelique Kerber ($18.5): Responded well to the early struggles against Sasnovich. Now the point of the tournament is reached where I am not so sure how much we can read into the Bad Homburg form of last week. Tough draw, and a tough price to take when she is an underdog in her 4th round match.

Karolina Muchova ($18.5): Solid without being spectacular through week one, although she has had a draw that was perhaps a little tougher than average. I like her chances again today, so will not be making any changes to the outright on her at this stage.

Liudmilla Samsonova ($23): Remains undefeated for the season on grass, although did find herself in a battle in round 3 against Sloane Stephens. This upcoming test of Karolina Pliskova is going to be intriguing at coin flip odds. Happy to stay out of this one for now.

Elena Rybakina ($20): One of those players that at her top level is near untouchable, however, her movement can be exploited across all surfaces. No appeal here at the price given the fourth-round meeting with Sabalenka.

Madison Keys ($20): Another capable of blowing anyone off the court on their day. She has looked good in week one, but her ability to sustain it is the question. Whilst some may not see it as a genuine test, Golubic here in round 4 is going to give us an indication of just how well Keys is playing.

Karolina Pliskova ($23): Just continues to hit her spots with next to no fuss. Maybe the attention being elsewhere is a good thing for her? She has a tough opponent in Samsonova today, but a win is not out of the question. Content with the 0.1-unit pre-tournament staking.

Barbora Krejcikova ($28): Much like Cristian Garin in the men’s draw, if you are on anyone other than Ash Barty in the outright market, you are cheering for the Czech to cause the upset. Whilst she may have forgotten how to lose, I do not think she has shown me enough this week to take her at the current price.

Emma Raducanu ($29): The story of the tournament, and that story may continue. Will have the crowd at 100% capacity for week two and faces Tomljanovic in the 4th round. May find Barty a little too tough in the quarter-final though were they to meet, and I am not sure I can take that outright price.

Paula Badosa ($42): Whilst grass is not her favourite surface, I do still have some question marks over her composure late in tournaments. Has she learnt from her mistakes against Zidansek at Roland Garros? I would rather not bet on her to find out.

Ajla Tomljanovic ($75): Gained some attention (and a lot of fans) with the way she handled Jelena Ostapenko in the previous round, however, may find herself a little outmatched here in week 2. A great result for her regardless of how she plays from here.

Viktorija Golubic ($85): Had a couple of nice wins on her in round 1, however, I am struggling to justify backing her for an outright. May be a sneaky chance against Madison Keys though.

Summary

For now, I will only be making the one extra play into the outright market, and it is a 0.6 unit staking on Ash Barty. She is rounding into form and should be, on the form displayed, at a short price in the market come the semi-finals, hopefully with another player in the portfolio still alive as well. I will comment further on the outright market tomorrow.

Added Selection:

BACK — 0.6 units Ash Barty to win (recorded at $4.80)

Fucsovics v Rublev

There is a one-sided head-to-head in the WTA for 2021 (Pegula vs Pliskova), and for the men, it comes courtesy of Rublev vs Fucsovics.

Whilst many may look at the 4-set win of Andrey Rublev over Fabio Fognini as a poor performance from the Russian, I saw some signs of improvement from Rublev that showed an element of maturity. After giving up the break lead in the second set, Rublev did lose his way a little bit, going on to drop the set.

In times gone by, that could have been the beginning of the end for Rublev, as he can struggle to switch back on at times after going off the boil. To his credit though he was able to steady the ship early in the third, take control, maintain control, and run away with things in the fourth set to take the match. Whilst there is still a slight question mark over the second serve of Rublev, I have been impressed with his grass court game over the course of the last couple of weeks.

I did underestimate Marton Fucsovics in the last round, with Schwartzman proving no match for him on the grass. Fucsovics ended the match with an advantage in the winner to unforced error ratio, 1st serve points won, and 2nd serve points won.

You could have argued it should have been a more dominant victory, with Fucsovics serving for the match in the third set, then nearly failing to do the same thing again in the 4th set. From a match where he controlled the majority of proceedings, it will be interesting to see how he handles the switch today to Rublev.

I personally like both the 3-0 set betting and the -6.5 games here for Rublev, however have sided with taking the games at better price. This head-to-head disparity covers multiple surfaces and court speeds, and I don’t see that changing here on the grass.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1 unit Rublev -6.5 games vs Fucsovics (recorded at $2.20)


F Auger-Aliassime v A Zverev

Whilst Alexander Zverev has been flying under the radar here, he does look a little short in the betting. In a match dominated by serve, and with Felix Auger-Aliassime a little over the odds in the betting market, the total games going over 38.5 here appeals quite strongly.

For all the question marks that can come at times with Zverev, his game, and how it stands up in the biggest moments, he does still seem to be making improvements to his overall game. Whilst he did drop a set to Taylor Fritz in the third round, he also managed to win over 90% of points on his first serve, which at the same time putting 69% of his first serves into play.

Matches involving Zverev tend to now come down to fine margins and performances in key moments, and I don’t see today being any different. For all the good that came from those stats in round 3, he still ended up in 2 tiebreaks and a 4-set match, against a player coming off a lot of tennis for the week not long after arthroscopic surgery on his knee in Fritz.

Felix Auger-Aliassime has continued his strong run of form on the grass, albeit a little fortunate that Nick Kyrgios had to retire from their round 2 match at one set apiece. It is hard to match up form around Kyrgios with a greater body of work, so I am not reading too much into FAA dropping that first set quite convincingly. Nerves will play a factor for the Canadian as the tournament continues to progress, but I am not counting him out in this one.

FAA is more solid off his forehand than Zverev on grass, and although Zverev owns the better backhand, I do feel the grass does bring him back to the Canadian a touch. A set from FAA and a tiebreak should be enough to send this over the game total looking at the serve stats of both players.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.25 units total games over 38.5 (recorded at $1.98)


Paula Badosa v Muchova

Another round of Muchova coming up as value translates to another round where I will be backing the Czech.

I wrote about these two players in their respective matches on Day 7, so I will try not to go back over old ground too much in this preview. Part of the appeal in Muchova has been the way in which her game translates to the grass. It is an all-court game that not only allows her to not be overpowered by many opponents, but also gives her options to figure out what is and is not working against any given opponent. It is this variety that is of the greatest appeal to me today, given she comes up against a player that doesn’t quite have as many options when it comes to game style.

Paula Badosa did a great job of coming from a set down against Magda Linette, digging her way out of a *0-3 15/40 deficit in the final set as well. Linette opened the door, and Badosa walked right on through to the fourth round. In what was an aggressive match from both players, I am not sure Badosa is going to find things as suited today against Muchova.

Although she needed 18 break point opportunities to break Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova seven times, Karolina Muchova was able to look after her serve relatively well for the most part in a 7-5 6-3 victory. The margin in which Muchova is playing with is key to her success, as is the way she is using her backhand slice to help get herself back into rallies consistently. It is also worth noting that although Muchova was broken 4 times across the course of the match, she was able to maintain her composure and break back instantly on each occasion.

Happy to take the player more comfortable on the surface and in the conditions here, and that is Muchova.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Muchova -2.5 games vs Badosa (recorded at $1.94)

Muchova v Pavlyuchenkova

Here is step one in my selections for today that are opposing the Roland Garros finalists of a couple of weeks ago.

You will have noticed in the outright preview for the tournament that I was very keen on Karolina Muchova and her chances of progressing through this tournament. From what I have seen through the early stages of the tournament, I have no reason to really need to change my mind.

Muchova was dominant in her first-round win over Shuai Zhang, and although challenged in the second round against the dangerous Camila Giorgi, never looked under pressure throughout the course of the third set. I could talk more about Muchova, but I would be repeating most of the things I have already said about her. She isn’t overpowered by anyone on tour, can neutralise and defend using her slice effectively, and plays with the margin you’d like to see on the surface.

Today she faces Roland Garros finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who has had one of the easier draws of all the top players through the early rounds in Ana Bogdan and Kristyna (not Karolina) Pliskova. She has done a great job of keeping her unforced errors down through the three sets, however against a far more dynamic and controlled offensive player in Muchova today, I anticipate there may be some issues for the Russian.

This is the first real test of the fortnight for Pavlyuchenkova, and it is a significant one at that. I was expecting to see Muchova around the $1.55 mark and giving up 3 games as a starting handicap here.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 2 units Muchova to win (recorded at $1.72)


Linette v Paula Badosa

Maybe the form on grass from Magda Linette does stack up.

As critical as I am about Elina Svitolina and her inability to go deep consistently in grand slams across the course of her career, it generally does take a player playing well to trouble her and knock her out of the tournament. Not only did Linette challenge her, but she also dominated her from start to finish, winning 6-3 6-4. She won over 70% of points on both her first and second serves for the match, was only broken once, and had the game to attack Svitolina’s second serve herself (won 71% of return points on second serve).

It backed up an equally impressive win in round 1, where she overcame promising American Amanda Anisimova in 3 sets, running away with a 6-1 final set. Her winners to unforced error ratio against two very capable players are right up there with some of the top names for the tournament, as she looks to do the same thing to Roland Garros semi-finalist Paula Badosa.

Whilst there hasn’t been a lot of top-level grass court form to use as a guide for Badosa across the course of her career (understandable given her rise in the rankings since Wimbledon 2019), I must say I do have some question marks still around her play on the surface.

After losing to Svitolina in Eastbourne, she needed 3 sets to dispatch Bolsova Zadoinov in round 1, having initially led by a set and a break. She responded well by taking the decider 6-2 and was aided by a first serve percentage of 75% for the match. She also looked solid in round 2, albeit against a player that has never been comfortable on the grass in Yulia Putintseva. I don’t read too much into the result, however, given Putintseva’s career results on the surface.

The consistency in the game of Linette is going to be incredibly testing for Badosa. We saw late in matches at Roland Garros how she does have a tendency to live a little too much on the edge in terms of her emotions on court, and they certainly ended up getting the better of her at Roland Garros. Against a capable grass court tennis player here in Linette, who I rate as having better form in the lead up and a style of play that is more suited to the surface, I am struggling to justify Badosa being a favourite.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Linette to win (recorded at $2.34)


Ivashka v Thompson

It has been a different Jordan Thompson since the start of the 5th set against Casper Ruud, and he looks to represent value again as an underdog today.

I don’t think I will be writing anything different here to previous matches when it comes to Jordan Thompson. Whilst he has had his lapses along the way, he has played some exceptional grass court tennis for the most part. His late set tennis in sets 1 and 2 against Kei Nishikori set up the win, and although he faltered in set three, he had enough of a cushion to be able to respond and win in 4 sets.

His first serve in particular has looked as good as I can recall this week, and I don’t think Ilya Ivashka is quite powerful enough for him to truly be considered in the mix of players you would consider capable of overpowering Thompson here consistently enough to be troubled.

Whilst the win over Jeremy Chardy in the previous round from a set down was impressive, I don’t quite think I can justify the short head-to-head price on him today. Today is more of a true hardcourt test, especially when you consider Thompson in comparison to Munar (on grass) and Chardy off his recent form.

I had the odds here closer to Thompson as a slight favourite, opening up some value again on the Australian. Ivashka will see more balls in play here than he did versus Chardy, and I don’t foresee things being quite as comfortable.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 2 units Thompson to win (recorded at $2.30)

Tiafoe v Khachanov

Frances Tiafoe comes up against his third consecutive bigger striker of the ball. Can the same tactics work again against Karen Khachanov?

The confidence in the game of Tiafoe is at levels not seen in quite a while. It is amazing what a Challenger title on the grass and a couple of solid performances can do for the confidence of a player like the American. Straight set wins over Stefanos Tsitsipas and Vasek Pospisil have led him to the third round. He is yet to drop serve, has won 44/69 points at the net, and done a terrific job of taking the ball early on the return of serve. That trait in particular will be crucial in round 3, especially if he can find a way to target the Khachanov forehand.

The long wind-up on the forehand of the Russian is a real danger area in this match. Whilst he has also looked solid for the most part through the early rounds, Mackenzie McDonald was able to show what can come as a result of taking the ball early and rushing Khachanov. Were it not for poor break point conversion (McDonald 3/17), Khachanov may have been out the door in round 1.

Whilst he has been able to string some wins together, I don’t think I can trust Khachanov in these conditions the way Tiafoe is playing. Look for the American to be on the front foot as much as possible throughout the course of this match, and I have him progressing to the next round.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 2 units Tiafoe to defeat Khachanov (recorded at $1.70)


Schwartzman v Fucsovics

I was anticipating seeing Marton Fucsovics coming up as a decent underdog in this match. Instead, we have close to coin flip odds and I am struggling to justify that price on Fucsovics.

Whilst the Hungarian has been incredibly solid over the course of his career on the grass, I get the feeling the win over Jannik Sinner in round 1 has been overrated. Whilst he was able to beat the Italian in 4 sets, I am not sure Sinner has quite figured out the way to play on grass yet in his career. His movement and defensive shot patterns aren’t suited to the grass and Fucsovics was able to take advantage. Fucsovics was in control in round 2 as well before Vesely had to retire, however, both himself and Sinner are a very different style of opponent to Diego Schwartzman, who is across the net today.

After going winless on grass over a handful of matches between 2015 and 2018, Schwartzman started to figure out how to play on the grass. Weirdly enough, with his stature and size, the ball skidding through isn’t much of a concern for Schwartzman. Whilst he does play limited grass court tournaments, his form on the surface has continued to build.

He has wins over the likes of Marin Cilic, Alex Bublik, and Dom Koepfer on the surface, but the key match, in 2019 at Wimbledon, that impressed me the most was his 5 set loss to Matteo Berrettini. The Italian had just a little too much firepower on the serve through sets 4 and 5 in key moments, but it felt to me watching that match that Diego had turned a corner on the surface. With strong wins over Benoit Paire and Liam Broady here in his 2021 return to grass, nothing I have seen has made me change my opinion.

Diego looks to be value today in my opinion. He will be able to get a high rate of returns back in play, and if he can hit his spots in key moments as well as he did against Broady in round 2, and continue to finish off at the net at a high rate, then I think he should be able to win strongly here. I will be taking Schwartzman to win at the moneyline for 2.5 units.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 2.5 units Schwartzman to win (recorded at $1.88)


Djokovic v Kudla

Whilst I am stopping short of taking the big odds about Denis Kudla knocking off Novak Djokovic here in the third round, I do think he has a fantastic chance of pushing this game total over the current quote of 27.5 games.

It has been an eventful first couple of rounds for Novak, with the Serbian taking a couple of tumbles on court, and dropping the first set of his tournament to home wildcard Jack Draper. It took some incredible tennis, mainly when the British wildcard was down break point, to take that set off Novak. I could talk about him all day, but I wouldn’t be telling you anything new.

One of the keys for Kudla to be able to come into this one with a chance of being competitive is the fact he was able to comfortably win his second-round match against Andreas Seppi. After taking the scenic route in the first round against Davidovich Fokina, coming from two sets down, Kudla was able to dictate from the start against the Italian, winning 68% of service points and 49% of return points for the match. He is able to flatten out his groundstrokes incredibly well off both wings, a trait that will be important when it comes to facing the best player in the world across the net.

It was a routine round 2 win for Djokovic over Kevin Anderson, winning 6-3 6-3 6-3 without dropping serve. It does need to be said though that the 2021 version of Kevin Anderson isn’t quite as potent as the South African of years ago. Nevertheless, the consistency from Djokovic on serve was on full display, to the point he didn’t face a break point.

The game total looks too low for mine given the form of Kudla. I do think he is a chance of snatching a set on his recent form or at least forcing a 7-6 or 7-5 set to put this in a decent position. I am happy to take the total going over here for 2 units.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 2 units total games over 27.5 (recorded at $1.90)

Garin v Polmans

One player had the day off after a great round 1 win on Tuesday. The other had to come back and finish off their five-setter after darkness suspended play on Tuesday. The player that is far and away more appealing in this match is Australian Marc Polmans.

I have backed Polmans in two qualifying rounds and in round 1, and he continues to represent value in the market. Even though his overall history on the surface may not suggest, his game is very well suited to the grass. He has been able to deliver a consistent level for long periods and is continuing to hit his spots with his first serve well. If there was one question mark around his game at this level, it is his ability to win points on the grass behind his second serve consistently enough. Today, however, he comes up against a player with the same issue in Cristian Garin.

Garin had to come back onto court yesterday down 2 sets to 1, coming away with the victory over qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles 6-7 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-2. Aided by a high first-serve percentage, Garin was able to wrestle back control of the match, finishing with 45 winners and 44 unforced errors for the match. This is the first time Garin has made his way out of the first round at Wimbledon, although it must be mentioned his previous round 1 appearances were against Adrian Mannarino and Andrey Rublev.

This play falls in line with several other plays I have made in the first couple of days. I am happy to take the player that has shown themselves to be more comfortable on the surface. In this case that is Polmans. He should not find himself overpowered in the conditions, and as the player more comfortable at covering the court, I like Polmans here at his price for 2 units.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 2 units Polmans to win (recorded at $3.20)


Muchova v Giorgi

Whilst I am on Karolina Muchova for small staking in the outright market, I do see some value on her at the game handicap today in a very competitive round 2 match with Camila Giorgi.

Whilst her round 1 opponent in Shuai Zhang has made a run at Wimbledon in the past, the Czech did a great job of handling proceedings, hitting a high percentage of first serves, winning 80% of them, and only dropping serve once for the entirety of the match. She can use her backhand slice well in the conditions to change things up, and her ability to win 46% of return points on the first serve of Zhang is a promising stat to begin the fortnight.

I do not think too much can be taken from Giorgi’s first-round win over Jil Teichmann given it was the Swiss’ first match back from injury. What is promising for fans of the Italian is that she showed no signs of any fitness issues after retiring from her match last week. I do not mind backing in Giorgi against players who lack power, or the top tier of power hitters with poor movement that she can exploit. I am less inclined to back her against players with a solid serve and variety to her game. Giorgi enjoys the same balls coming to her consistently, something she will not see today.

I had this game handicap coming in the -3 to -3.5 range, so it is nice to see it sitting at -2.5 games. I will be taking that selection for 1 unit.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1-unit Muchova -2.5 games (recorded at $1.94)


Petkovic v Krejcikova

Just a small play here, however, Andrea Petkovic looks to be solid value to snatch the first set off Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova.

Whilst the form across the course of the year certainly favours Krejcikova, she remains quite inexperienced in terms of singles play on the grass. She was fortunate in round 1 with Clara Tauson across the net, as the teenager still has not quite figured out how to play tennis at the top level on the grass (i.e., she is still playing loopy tennis shots on a surface that is not going to help you in such a situation).

The difference largely in this match was the second serve of Tauson, as she was only able to win 4/19 points behind it for the match. All in all, it was solid without being spectacular for the first grass-court singles match on tour for the Czech since Wimbledon qualifying in 2017.

She faces a player who has a game quite suited to the grass today, with a handful of third-round appearances at Wimbledon over the years, as well as a WTA level final very early in her career (lost to Justine Henin!). Petkovic hits and it stays hit, which can mean whilst she can play some brilliant tennis, there is also a chance she can go off the boil and miss the court in all directions.

Looking at the prices on offer, the market that appeals here is Petkovic to win the first set. The longer the match and the larger the sample size, the more I am leaning toward things favouring Krejcikova. I can see the Czech coming from a set down more often than Petkovic coming from a set down, more so than the odds disparity suggests. Look for Krejcikova to take a while to adjust to the pace of Petkovic on the grass, and I will take a 1-unit selection on the German to win the first set.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1 unit Petkovic 1st set winner (recorded at $3.20)


Nishikori v Thompson

Jordan Thompson got the job done as an underdog yesterday against Casper Ruud in round 1, and he comes up as a big underdog again today against Kei Nishikori, set to face his second consecutive Australian.

Whilst it was a long and grueling 5-set match yesterday against Ruud, it is worth noting that Thompson is one of the fitter players on tour. He received a medical timeout at the end of the fourth set for some work on his right quad (as well as further treatment at 2-1* in the fifth set within the changeover), however, based on his performance in the fifth set I am not too concerned.

It has become commonplace to almost expect to see Nishikori in long matches early in grand slams, as he has a tendency to turn short matches into long ones out of absolutely nowhere. He was afforded a huge number of unforced errors from the racquet of Alexei Popyrin in the first round, where he was able to win 6-4 6-4 6-4.

This is another match-up where Thompson isn’t going to find himself overpowered, and that is key to his chances on grass. His ability to cover the court and defend is what is able to set him apart from many players on grass, and I would be shocked to see Thompson giving up cheap points with poor decision-making at anywhere near the frequency we saw yesterday from Popyrin.

Whilst backing up from 5 sets yesterday is a question mark, Nishikori is also backing up off a three-set match to potentially play another three to five sets here. I really liked what I saw from Thompson yesterday, especially his response in set 5, and I am happy to back Thompson to win. If he can split the first two sets at worst, I like his chances to progress.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Thompson to win (recorded at $4.20)

Boulter v Sabalenka

This total looks a touch too low, in what I anticipate being a very entertaining, and more importantly, competitive, match on Day 3 at Wimbledon.

Aryna Sabalenka is one of the tournaments favourites and had a lot to gain from Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep pulling out before the draw was completed. She finds herself nestled in the 2 seed, and got the job done relatively comfortably in the first round against a trick opponent in Monica Niculescu.

Sabalenka was dominant early, and although she did have a small hiccup in the second set when cruising, never looked to be in major trouble when it came to winning the match, finishing with 48 winners and 30 unforced errors for the match. While there were patches of this match where Sabalenka was able to show some restraint, she still went for too much on occasion.

Katie Boulter overcame some nerves on stepping about out on court at her home tournament after a couple of years, coming from a set down to defeat Danielle Lao in the first round. Boulter showed she was up to the fight physically, which is an important trait considering she lost to Lauren Davis at the Nottingham quarter final stage due to retirement (whilst being up a set).

She has returned to the court in good order, and from my experience in backing Boulter or supporting totals going over, I do have a preference in getting involved when she plays larger strikers of the ball. She can counterpunch quite well and will have the crowd at her back today.

There is a lot to like about the game of Boulter, and I think she can use the pace of Sabalenka to her advantage today. The game total looks a touch low, and I will be taking the over for 1 unit, and a half unit selection on Boulter at the moneyline (another option would be to Lay Sabalenka 2-0 set betting).

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1 unit Boulter/Sabalenka total games over 19.5 (recorded at $2.04)

BACK — 0.5 units Boulter to defeat Sabalenka (recorded at $7.40)


Golubic v Collins

Happy to go back to the well again today with Viktorija Golubic, coming off her tight win against Veronika Kudermetova as an underdog in the first round.

Golubic is coming off back-to-back matches against Anett Kontaveit and Kudermetova where she has been able to use the pace that is on the ball from the other end of the court to her advantage. We will see much of the same today in my opinion, with Danielle Collins lacking the court craft and nous to be able to control proceedings in this match.

As mentioned in round 1, not only does Golubic have the ability to shorten the backswing on her one-handed backhand and keep the ball low when defending, she also has a very capable slice off both wings, allowing her a pathway back into some points that most players would likely lose with low percentage tennis. She recovered from a lapse when serving for the match in the third, then did a fantastic job of holding serve when serving to stay in the match multiple times, claiming the decider 11-9.

Grass has never been classed as a favourable surface for Collins, and it looks like her 24 winner and 33 unforced error victory over Polona Hercog in 3 sets has been a touch overrated when looking at the odds today.

For Collins to win this match-up, she would need to redline for long periods against a very capable grass court tennis player. I cannot see it happening off such little tennis, with a capable grass court player at the other end of the court.

Although I am wary that Collins has some very impressive grand slam performances across her career, I am happy to back up again on Golubic in round 2 with a 1-unit selection.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1 unit Golubic to defeat Collins (recorded at $1.90)


Seppi v Kudla

Whilst a little fortunate that he was able to make his way from being 2 sets to love down, and a minibreak down in the third set tiebreak, I think Denis Kudla finds himself in a decent matchup here against Andreas Seppi in round 2.

Seppi did a fantastic job of resisting Joao Sousa, saving EIGHTEEN of 21 break point chances on his own serve across the course of the 4 sets. He faced those break point chances across 9 different service games and was able to go on to hold on six occasions.

Whilst he has been able to notch up some wins over the course of the lead-in tournaments, I do not think the quality of the opposition has been quite to the level to justify Seppi being only a slight underdog in this one.

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina is a tricky opponent on any surface, however Kudla’s ability to maintain his nerve down 2 sets, and down in that third set tiebreak was what stood out for me. When you watch Kudla on grass you see a player that wishes the grass season could go for an extra couple of weeks or months, so well suited is his game to the surface. Coming back off that win to a more predictable opponent at the other end of the court will assist the American here.

I have Kudla marked at just under $1.50 for this match up across the best of five sets. Instead of taking the game handicap, I will instead make a 2-unit selection on Kudla to win at the moneyline.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 2 units Kudla to defeat Seppi (recorded at $1.72)


Thompson v Ruud

Here we have a rematch of the Australian Open meeting between Norway’s Casper Ruud and Australia’s Jordan Thompson.

I was on Thompson that day, in a result that was a loss due to Thompson retiring during the match. He cited neck issues, stating that he had woken up that morning with the problem and was unable to extend up and look at the ball on his ball toss, as well as in general rallying. If I thought he was value on that day, it is hard to go past him today as an underdog on his preferred surface, against a player with an overall grass record that leaves a lot to be desired.

When it comes to generating spin on the ball through groundstrokes, Ruud is near the top of the list off both wings. It allows him to play with margin when on the clay, however with the ball staying low here on the grass, it is going to be more up case of getting the ball back up and over the net and trying to limit the amount of time that low percentage tennis is required.

Ruud notched up his first wins on grass at the level just last week by defeating Sandgren and Simon, prior to a one-sided loss against Daniil Medvedev in the quarter final. I do not think his game is suited to the surface anywhere near as much as Thompson, and I am struggling to be enticed by his odds here.

Speaking of Thompson, the Australian continues to charge closer to the Top 50 and seems to have found the grass swing relatively successful. His losses have come to Andrey Rublev, Alex De Minaur and Pablo Carreno Busta, with Thompson more than competitive in all three losses.

He has a solid first serve, he can cover the grass well, he can defend with a slice, he can come to the net, and he can handle the occasion of the grand slam. I have him marked at $2.20 for this match, so the current price for the moneyline represents some value in my opinion.

I will be backing the Australian to cause the upset here for 1 unit.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1 unit Thompson to defeat Ruud (recorded at $2.50)

Sakkari v Rus

The improvements made in the game of Maria Sakkari have been evident for all to see across the course of 2021, however, the question of whether that translates seamlessly to the grass court here is one that remains unanswered.

Sakkari deserves to be a heavy favourite in this match-up with Arantxa Rus, however, I don’t think she should be that strong of a favourite. Sakkari is coming off the tournament of her life at Roland Garros, where she narrowly missed making the final, and like a number of big names made the call to skip the entire lead-up season on grass to recharge the batteries. Some, including Stefanos Tsitsipas, have already commented on their regret at not playing a lead-up tournament. Will Sakkari have similar regrets?

She faces Rus, who made the Bol final on clay after losing at Roland Garros, then put in a very competitive performance in Bad Homburg on grass, losing in three sets to underrated grass court player Alize Cornet. The lack of break point conversion was an issue, with Rus only converting 2 of 9 opportunities compared to 4/8 from Cornet. Rus had a double break point to get things back on serve at 1-3* in the decider, was unable to convert, and dropped her level as a result, so the final set margin I do not have is indicative of how close the match was.

The leftie Rus also can target the major weakness of Sakkari on grass, and that is needing to take the backhand from a low strike zone. Rus has the left-handed serve to target the backhand of Sakkari and given the lack of competitive tennis on grass for Sakkari of late, I think she may be a touch vulnerable in this one.

Much like the play on Tiafoe against Tsitsipas, I will split the stake here across the first set and the moneyline. Rus can be erratic, however, at those prices, it is worth a smaller play.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 0.75 units Rus 1st set winner (recorded at $4.30)

BACK — 0.75 units Rus to defeat Sakkari (recorded at $6.60)


An Li v Podoroska

Ann Li, a junior finalist here in 2017, gets herself a favourable grass court match-up here as she looks to continue to build on the career-best 2021 she is currently putting together.

These two both have form around the same player, having played Petra Kvitova in Bad Homburg last week. Both put in similar performances, with Podoroska losing in two tight sets, whilst Li snatched a tiebreak in between two poor sets. It is hard to match up both matches here though, with Kvitova showing overnight that there is still an erratic tinge to her game, even on the grass.

If there is a question mark around Li and her game, it is the ability to find herself significantly outmatched against power hitters. That will not be the case here for the American, with Podoroska a far more friendly match-up across the net to some of Li’s recent opponents. Li has improved in leaps and bounds this year and should have less trouble when it comes to holding serve in this match-up on grass.

Nadia Podoroska played her second, third and fourth career matches on the grass last week. After beating Guth in straight sets then Tig in 3 sets, before her loss to Kvitova. I do not have her overall style being overly favourable to the grass and against a player like Li who can hit her spots well when she has time on the ball, as she will have today.

Comfort in holding serve will be key in this match, and that should be an area for Li to excel in across the course of the match. I will back her at the game handicap for 1 unit.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1 unit Li -3.5 games vs Podoroska (recorded at $1.88)


Zh Zhang v Hoang

Whilst Antoine Hoang may have been challenged a little more in qualifying, I do feel as though his stretch of form across the course of the last couple of weeks on grass is better than Zhizhen Zhang.

Zhang is making his grand slam debut here, qualifying for the main draw at his fourth attempt. Zhang had one of the more favourable draws in all of qualifying, playing Samudio, Tabilo and Cerundolo, whilst almost throwing away a winning position to Cerundolo, taking the match with an 8-6 tiebreak score in the 4th set.

Whilst he was only able to win 46% of points behind his second serve, he was able to mask that by putting 73% of first serves into play. With a high first-serve percentage, an unfavourable winner to unforced error rate and scraping by an opponent far less suited to the grass matches up as a worrying piece of form coming into the main draw, especially when you look at the odds for this match.

Antoine Hoang is playing with house money in the main draw, having come from 2 sets to 0 down against Molcan in the final round to qualify. Each of his matches went the distance in qualifying, however the wins over Kwiatkowski and Copil. He has come through each tough moment with flying colours, and now gets a round 1 opponent who looks less suited to the grass than recent opponents, who also has less experience at Grand Slam level than himself.

Hoang is currently a slight favourite; however, I have value at his price in this match-up. I prefer his game over the best of 5 to Zhang, and unless Zhang can find a high first-serve percentage again, I struggle to see him matching it with Hoang.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 2 units Hoang to defeat Zhang (recorded at $1.90)


Krajinovic v Bolt

Another match-up where a player with solid lead-in form comes up against a player who generally looks to avoid the grass across the course of his career.

Filip Krajinovic has a 2-10 record for his career against players ranked 173 and above for his career and has only taken to the court for competitive grass court tennis four times since 2015. It clearly is not his surface of preference, and if it were, he would be playing far more tournaments on the surface over the years. The ball stays low, and with it staying out of his hitting zone regularly, it leads to the Serbian resorting to playing low percentage tennis more often than you would like to see when backing him.

He also comes up against a player who looks right at home on the grass in Australian Alex Bolt. Bolt received a wildcard into the main draw having won his way through qualifying and all the way to the title in the Nottingham 2 Challenger, beating the likes of Ebden, Gasquet, McDonald, and Majchrzak along the way.

It was a reward for effort for Bolt, who made the decision to travel overseas and play the Challenger clay swing over the last couple of months with next to no reward. The leftie serves of Bolt works better on the grass than any other surface, and Bolt’s ability to hit flat, blocking backhands when pushed for time works incredibly well on the grass.

Comfort on grass, and recent form, is key. I will take Bolt here to win and cover the 2.5 game handicap for 2 units.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 2 units Bolt -2.5 games vs Krajinovic (recorded at $1.84)

Davidovich Fokina vs Kudla

This is an interesting match-up, with a player who has shown great form in Roland Garros coming up against a quality grass court player who has made his way through qualifying in impressive fashion.

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina is taking his place in the draw; however, it is worth noting that two of his last three matches have led to him being impacted by a back issue. At Roland Garros in his quarter final with Alexander Zverev, he mentioned that he struggled to put his own shoes on given his back issues throughout the day.

A lower back injury also popped up in Eastbourne last week, with the Spaniard retiring after losing a first set tiebreak to Vasek Pospisil. Coming into a grand slam with an injury cloud makes an already difficult situation even worse.

The situation is complicated by a more than capable grass court player at the other end of the court in Denis Kudla. The American made his way through qualifying without dropping a set and was incredibly competitive every week of the grass season, including reaching the final of the first Nottingham Challenger tournament.

I have Kudla marked as a slight favourite here before you consider the injury question marks surrounding the Spaniard. Whilst the ceiling of Fokina is higher, the level Kudla will be able to maintain on the grass is higher, and I have that being the difference today.

Suggested Bet

 BACK — 1 unit Kudla to defeat Davidovich Fokina (recorded at $2.04)


Kalinskaya vs Camila Osorio

We have a battle of the qualifiers on Day 1 at Wimbledon, with Maria Camila Osorio Serrano taking on Anna Kalinskaya.

Whilst there is only a limited data set for Serrano on grass, from what I have seen of her game style and ability to cover the court on grass, she is at the mercy of Kalinskaya today. That is not to say she will lose, however, the majority of points in this match will depend on whether Kalinskaya produces an unforced error or a winner.

On what I saw from her throughout qualifying, there is enough value in this moneyline to make a small play here. She finished each of her qualifying matches in the positive for winners to unforced errors, won points behind her first serve at a solid clip, returned second serves well, and was impressive in key moments against Priscilla Hon, who had shown some improved form.

Serrano does not have a strong serve, and with Kalinskaya likely to impact many service games across the course of the match, I will be backing the Russian to win for 1.5 units.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Kalinskaya to defeat Camila Osorio (recorded at $1.72)


Kudermetova vs Golubic

Viktorija Golubic opened around the $1.70 mark not long after the draw came out at Wimbledon. My initial thoughts were that she was a touch too short, but she still deserved to be a favourite in this match.

Now that she is $2.20, I am happy to make a play.

From what I have seen from Veronika Kudermetova, I am not entirely sure she has the patience and shot selection in her game at this stage of her career to consider her comfortable on the grass. She has lost in straight sets to Samsonova and Riske in her first two outings on the grass for the grass season, and it is the lack of change-up or plan B that I find as a little concerning in this match.

She does not have the defensive tendencies on either wing to help her reset during points and get things back on level footing. This contrasts with Golubic, who has a very capable backhand slice to compliment her one-handed backhand that works well on the low-bouncing grass.

The control on the ball today from Golubic will be key. I will cap this at 1 unit though, as I do worry a little about Golubic closing out in some tighter moments, as we saw when she attempted to serve out the match in straight sets to Kontaveit the other day. Experience will shine through here in my opinion.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1 unit Golubic to defeat Kudermetova (recorded at $2.20)


Tiafoe v Tsitsipas

Whilst Stefanos Tsitsipas is one of the favourites for the tournament, he does look a little short here in a very competitive round 1 match-up against Frances Tiafoe.

We have not seen Tsitsipas on court since he lost the Roland Garros final from 2 sets up. A mixture of rest needed as well as personal circumstances led to Tsitsipas taking a break. Whilst it may have been much needed, he has forfeited the chance to get time on court and to adjust to the grass court surface on which he has struggled in the past.

He has made some big improvements in several parts of his game since Wimbledon 2019, however, he remains an unknown quantity on the grass at the moment. With the ball staying lower, it means Tsitsipas needs to do more work to find himself in positions to attack in high percentage ways in rallies.

As world number 6 in 2019 he produced losses to Jarry and Gasquet in the lead-in tournaments, then lost to Thomas Fabbiano in 5 sets in the first round at Wimbledon. Sub-$1.15 just looks a touch short for mine.

Frances Tiafoe has been able to get a couple of weeks of solid tennis under his belt on the grass. He won the Nottingham Challenger 1 title with dominant wins over Copil and Kudla in the SF and F and backed it up the next week by reaching the quarter final at the Queen’s Club, losing to Denis Shapovalov. He struggled in Eastbourne last week, but off two longer weeks I do not see that personally as a major issue.

Tiafoe is a tough customer over best of 5 sets, as Novak Djokovic can attest to from the Australian Open. He has lead-in form on the grass and looks to be at top fitness coming into this match. I have him as value in the head-to-head market, but also have him as value to get the jump on Tsitsipas in the first set, as Stefanos will take a little while to adjust. Happy to have 0.75 units on both the money line and first set for the American.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 0.75 units Tiafoe to win (recorded at $6)

BACK — 0.75 units Tiafoe to win Set 1 (recorded at $4)

Welcome to the outright preview for Wimbledon. A fascinating fortnight awaits, especially when you consider there is such little exposed grass court form to consider for the tournament. With only a couple of weeks of grass tennis to consider for players over the last 2 years (2020 grass swing was canceled due to COVID).

Time to look at the draws quarter by quarter and see if some value can be found in the outright markets.


ATP

Quarter 1

Novak Djokovic: The very, very heavy favourite, Djokovic is looking for his third grand slam for the year. He has started as favourite and second favourite at the Australian Open and Roland Garros respectively, however, neither has involved a comfortable ride to the title. Injury concerns lead to the outright price on Djokovic ballooning out during and after his match against Taylor Fritz at the Australian Open, and he reached a high of $15 at Roland Garros when down two sets to Lorenzo Musetti (and trailed 2 sets in the final).

He is the favourite for a reason, and it will take a genuinely impressive and powerful performance from someone to knock him off. Sub $2 is a little short for two weeks of tennis with the potential for drama and injury to eventuate. In this quarter though, the only major threat I can see to him is Rublev if he is able to find his top level.

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina: Retired from his lead in match with injury and looks to be one of the seeded players who is quite vulnerable even in round 1. Too close to Novak even if fit.

Cristian Garin: ultimately disappointing on the clay this year, and it will be interesting to see how he fares early days here. I have him on upset alert in round 2 if he were to face Marc Polmans.

Gael Monfils: struggling at times to make his way through the best of three set format, so it is hard to make a case for him in the best of 5 set arena on grass at this stage of his career. Too inconsistent.

Diego Schwartzman: Will give an honest performance for as long as he lasts, however having him in the outright discussion for the fortnight is a little too much. Will still be suited by particular matchups given his ability to cover the court, but also to be able to keep the ball flat and lot and make it hard for the opposition to effectively volley.

Jannik Sinner: His overall game has improved in leaps and bounds since he lost in the first round of Wimbledon qualifying in 2019 to Australian Alex Bolt. He will need to play a lot better than what I saw in Queen’s Club when he lost in two tiebreak sets to wildcard Jack Draper. Whilst he has all the offensive weapons, his ability to move and defend on the grass has not quite developed. I think he may run into trouble here at the point of facing Andrey Rublev, and that is if he can find a way past a very tricky round 1 match with Marton Fucsovics.

Fabio Fognini: If I did not entertain an outright selection on Fabio Fognini at Roland Garros, then I can assure you that I am not going to be able to entertain an outright selection on Fabio at Wimbledon. Never made it beyond the first week in 11 attempts and sitting in a section of the draw with Djokovic and Rublev. I will pass.

Andrey Rublev: Now this is a bit of an interesting selection. The last time Rublev turned up at Wimbledon he was ranked 79 in the world and ran into a red-hot Sam Querrey. I had some question marks around his ability to handle the grass coming into the last month, however, he did a terrific job of reaching the final in Halle, which he lost to Ugo Humbert. My concerns in his game now does not so much revolve around his ability to play on the surface, but his ability to tighten up at the pointy end of some of these larger tournaments he has recently appeared in. That is what makes this interesting because Rublev does have the power game to be able to threaten Djokovic on the grass. Under consideration as a trading selection for the outright or to win the first quarter at $8+

Unseeded players of note: Whilst there are not any unseeded players that appeal in terms of outright markets, a couple of players to keep an eye on early in week one are Denis Kudla, Andreas Seppi and Marton Fucsovics. I fear on recent performances that Kevin Anderson is no longer an outright consideration, however, keep an eye on Australian qualifier Marc Polmans who could cause a surprise or two in the first week in his pocket of the draw. Overall, it is hard to find a name that is going to be a significant trouble spot for Djokovic in this quarter at this stage outside of Andrey Rublev.


Quarter 2

Stefanos Tsitsipas: How will he respond to losing the Roland Garros final from sets up? We do not know yet, as we have not seen him back on tour since the loss and family tragedy struck on the same day. As a result, he has not stepped on a grass court to play a competitive match since 2019, where he lost in 5 sets to Thomas Fabbiano. Whilst his ranking since 2019 has only risen from 6 to 4, I assume that his more developed game will translate relatively well to the grass, however, I still have too many question marks considering his outright price. Tricky first-up opponent with France Tiafoe, and it will not get any easier from the 4th round onwards.

Karen Khachanov: I have struggled to trust the Russian in ATP250 and ATP500 draws, so I cannot see him rapidly turning things around and making a huge run here at Wimbledon. Having said that, he is the type of player I do not mind supporting as an underdog in particular matchups. Looking at the outright odds, I would imagine a value price may pop up for him to beat Tsitsipas.

Dan Evans: One of the players in the draw that is incredibly well suited to the grass, it will be interesting to see if Evans can make the most of being a seed here for the first time. For all that suits his game, he possesses an 8-9 record at Wimbledon across qualifying and main draws and has never made it past the third round, having lost to Joao Sousa in 2019 in 5 sets. Happy to keep him out of my position for now, especially with a tricky round 1 match with Feliciano Lopez to kick off the tournament.

Alex De Minaur: Comes in off a tournament win in Eastbourne on Saturday, defeating Lorenzo Sonego in a third set tiebreak in the final. Looks to be turning a corner with his form, which is a funny thing to say considering he now finds himself at a career-high ranking. Whilst he does not have the serve to penetrate on clay and even some hardcourts, he does have the ability to hit his spots on the grass, cover the court well and finish off at the net when required. One of the intriguing trading options in the draw pre-tournament.

Denis Shapovalov: Simply put, I am not sure he is a good enough return of serve to be considered an outright threat on grass. It is the key part of his game that remains largely undeveloped, and I do not think Denis has the patience to be able to hit his spots consistently. May make a run, however likely to come because of low percentage tennis coming off, and potentially needing to scrap through tiebreaks in some key moments. Fascinated to see how he handles Phillip Kohlschreiber in round 1.

Nikoloz Basilashvili: Made the semifinal in Halle, however, the quality of opposition left a lot to be desired. Prefer to support him in best of 3, and with Andy Murray across the net in round 1, I am happy to pass on this.

Reilly Opelka: Capable of a run here if he can find his range consistently on the first serve. Pulled off a big upset here in 2019 when he defeated Stan Wawrinka on the way to the third round, where he ran out of gas backing up against Milos Raonic. Intriguing trading selection, however, at the current odds I think I prefer De Minaur in this quarter. Might be one to watch as capable of upsetting Bautista Agut in round 3.

Roberto Bautista Agut: One of the big winners from the withdrawals of Nadal and Thiem, slipping into the 8 seed. Not the best draw for the Spaniard though, with tough Australian John Millman first up, then likely to face Kecmanovic and Opelka in rounds 2 and 3. I will monitor him in the early rounds.

Unseeded players of note: Several seeds face very capable players in the first round. Whilst I would not consider them in the outright markets, they do all make for tough opposition for seeds.  John Millman is one of those players that is a tough opponent in the best of 5 format, facing Bautista Agut first up. Frances Tiafoe has been hit-and-miss over the years, however, has the game to challenge Tsitsipas in round 1. Andy Murray will make his emotional return to Wimbledon and is set to face Basilashvili. With such little tennis under his belt though, it is hard to confidently back in his body to handle the best of 5 format given his recent injuries. Whilst I do like De Minaur in this section, his first-round opposition in Seb Korda has shown glimpses early in his career on grass, and another to keep an eye on is Vasek Pospisil.


Quarter 3

Matteo Berrettini: Showed at Queen’s Club what he can achieve on the grass, winning the title there. Two titles on grass to this stage of his career is impressive and commands respect. The first couple of rounds should be comfortable, prior to a third-round meeting with John Isner on the cards. Whilst his backhand has improved a touch, the thought of Isner sending big serves to the backhand game after game is slightly worrying. I will not start on Berrettini at the current quote, however, if he looks strong through the early rounds, he may be considered as an addition to the overall portfolio.

John Isner: Whilst outrights and grand slams have not always been happy hunting when it comes to John Isner, he does remain a threat in some match scenarios. Prefer to get involved in Isner matches in specific matchups than jumping on an outright.

Aslan Karatsev: With such little grass form to use as a guide over his career, some assumptions will need to be made around his ability on the surface. Looked average at Queen’s Club, and with the ball staying low on the grass I do not see Karatsev being a major threat in the second week here.

Casper Ruud: His grass record is poor, and his one-sided loss to Daniil Medvedev last week in Mallorca did not give me any cause for excitement. Prefer others.

Felix Auger Aliassime: Whilst the season has not been exceptional for Auger-Aliassime, his form on grass both in the last month and across his young career commands respect. Came within a point or two of defeating eventual title winner Ugo Humbert in the Halle semifinal, and made the final of Stuttgart the week before. Whilst he may tighten up in the latter stages of a big tournament, he looks to be one to consider winning the quarter.

Ugo Humbert: Won the tournament in Halle with some very impressive tennis, then pulled out in Mallorca after defeating Miomir Kecmanovic in round 1 from a precarious position. Whilst the lead-in form is solid, there is a tough opponent waiting across the net in round one in Nick Kyrgios, making his return to the tour for the first time since the Australian Open. A tough start, and one I would rather just watch than involve myself with question marks around Kyrgios.

Taylor Fritz: A decent-sized underdog in the first round here given the way Brandon Nakashima found his way through qualifying. Will struggle to make round 2, let alone be a threat in the outright market.

Alexander Zverev: Get the feeling that he is going to encounter some trouble at some stage in this quarter given the quality of some of the players in the section. Not the best value price in the quarter when the likes of Berrettini, Isner and Auger-Aliassime are loitering. Played a couple of three-set matches in Halle but did not set the world on fire. Cannot take at the current quote, however, may be worth considering throwing in a longer odds ‘back’ stake if he finds trouble early like he did down 2 sets to Otte in round 1 at Roland Garros.

Unseeded players of note: The first name of interest is Kei Nishikori, however, given his ability to turn what should be 3 set wins into 5 set wins, I do not have any intention currently to back him in the outright market. Jordan Thompson is capable of good tennis on grass however is not in the outright picture. Nick Kyrgios faced Ugo Humbert in a rematch of their Australian Open match, however off not a lot of tennis it is hard to be enticed by his current price. That may change with a dominant performance. One from qualifying to keep an eye on? Brandon Nakashima.


Quarter 4

Roger Federer: I could write thousands of words about the tennis Federer has produced on this surface over the course of his career. His game on the surface is not the question this year. Can his body hold up? All throughout the 2021 season, his schedule has been planned with the primary aim of targeting Wimbledon, so much so that he withdrew from Roland Garros to manage his body mid-tournament.

He got two grass matches into his schedule in Halle, beating Ivashka 7-6 7-5, before losing to Auger-Aliassime 6-4 3-6 2-6. He won only 62% of points behind his first serve and looked to struggle physically a touch as the match progressed (like he did against Basilashvili in Doha, and Pablo Andujar in Geneva). The draw is decent, however, the accumulation of time on court is going to be the big issue for Federer. I do not think I can justify a back bet currently until I see him in the early rounds.

Cam Norrie: Outrights may be pushing it a little when it comes to grand slam tennis, however, he was super impressive at Queen’s Club. Tricky first match with Lucas Pouille, however, I will be fascinated to see the market were he to meet Roger Federer in round 3. Prefer match to match.

Lorenzo Sonego: Has shown his capability on grass over the years with some impressive results. Can he back it up in the longer format though? Has a very friendly first two rounds, however, may struggle against Carreno Busta or Querrey in round 3, and will not get any easier from there.

Pablo Carreno Busta: Last week was probably the best PCB has looked on grass for his career (and took out my outright pick in the quarter-final), however, I do feel he will struggle to make the second week, and struggle even more to make an impact in the second week. A tough first match against Sam Querrey will not help.

Hubert Hurkacz: Has the serve and the movement to be a tricky customer, especially with his ability to cover the net (and is not afraid to dive volley). Not sure he is good enough in enough areas to be a threat to the likes of Daniil Medvedev in this section however and wanted to see more from him in Stuttgart and Halle.

Grigor Dimitrov: His body has failed him through the first two grand slams of the year (injured whilst playing Karatsev in Melbourne and Giron in Paris). Not sure I can trust him over the course of a fortnight.

Marin Cilic: won the tournament in Stuttgart a couple of weeks ago but did not look quite as strong at the Queen’s Club. His game is very heavily reliant on the serve, and he has shown his talents at Wimbledon in previous years. I do not think he quite warrants the price coming in to $80 as it has on the exchange, so I do not see there being value pre-tournament here. Hard to find too many areas here where Cilic is stronger than Medvedev which makes things tough from a draw standpoint.

Daniil Medvedev: I remarked a couple of weeks ago after Medvedev lost to Struff in Halle that I could not quite understand Medvedev being $7 to win Wimbledon. At the time I could not contemplate that price in any capacity, however, the $9.20 that is currently available given the draw looks to be a solid spot. The title last week will give him some much-needed confidence on the surface, and although he faces Jan-Lennard Struff again in round 1, I think this outright price is value given the players he may face in this half, whilst staying well away from Djokovic.

Unseeded players of note: Jan-Lennard Struff continues to end up with incredibly poor draws, this time receiving Medvedev in round 1. The other names to keep an eye on for this tournament are Sam Querrey and Adrian Mannarino, however, it is difficult to see any other unseeded players making a run out of this quarter.


Summary

There are a couple of pre-tournament positions that I am happy to take.

The first is I will be setting a ‘back’ bet on Novak Djokovic on the exchange at $4 for 1 unit. This price may change, however a touch over double the current quote seems a good starting point. I will monitor and update if this price changes across the fortnight.

The other players I am happy to involve myself with early are Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Alex De Minaur, and Felix Auger-Aliassime. Medvedev looks to now be value given the draw and is worth a play, and Rublev should be making the quarter-finals at worst if he brings a level somewhere near his best, or what he produced in Halle given his draw. De Minaur does have a tough early match with Korda but looks capable of making a run to the second week and will be tough opposition over the longer format on grass.

Auger-Aliassime I will play in the quarter-winner market as well as the outright. His stats on the grass to date is impressive given his age, and the split between markets is due to nerves getting the better of him late in tournaments.

I will likely add to this as the tournament progresses, so keep an eye out.

Betting Strategy

BACK – 0.75 units Medvedev to win outright (recorded at $9)

BACK – 0.4 units Rublev to win outright (recorded at $80)

BACK – 0.25 units De Minaur to win outright (recorded at $200)

BACK – 0.25 units Auger-Aliassime to win Quarter 3 (recorded at $7.40)

BACK – 0.1-unit Auger-Aliassime to win outright (recorded at $110)

BACK – 1 unit Djokovic to win outright at $4 (will only be recorded if matched – odds of back bet may be changed as tournament progresses)

Quarter 1

Ash Barty: I am not going to spend too much time discussing Barty pre-tournament. She has all the attributes to be a threat on the grass, however, there are question marks. I had question marks over her fitness going into Roland Garros but took a small play on the outright, and she ended up picking up a different injury. I will not be actively opposing her initially; however, I need to see her on court before deciding on incorporating her into the selections.

Kiki Bertens: Retiring at the end of the year suggests she is not happy with her game post-injury. Happy to look elsewhere.

Barbora Krejcikova: The hunter becomes the hunted. Happy to forgive her if she is not able to put in an effort that replicates her performances at Roland Garros. I am happy to stay away from her early and see how she handles the grass surface as a singles player.

Victoria Azarenka: I have backed Azarenka in outright markets a couple of times this year, and on several occasions Azarenka has withdrawn. I am intrigued by her price, and I wonder if the withdrawal last week was precautionary off a long match more than anything.  Wait and watch for now.

Anett Kontaveit: sits around third favourite in terms of winning this quarter, which looks a little short given her record at grand slam level across the course of her career. Lost to Jelena Ostapenko in the final in Eastbourne this weekend, and although she did a great job of reaching the final, I still feel she lacks the consistency required to justify her prices. She is also a player I have on upset alert in round 1, so I will not be supporting her at this stage in the outrights.

Daria Kasatkina: Lost in the final of Birmingham to Ons Jabeur, then lost eventual Eastbourne champion Jelena Ostapenko in three sets. A little too reliant on opposition errors to consider her currently in the outright market, however she is likely to appeal in particular matchups during the tournament were she to make a run.

Bianca Andreescu: Has not looked fantastic on the grass over the last couple of weeks, so there are some question marks. The positive? She is getting on court week after week without any further injuries occurring. Not sure I can back her at the current quote for mine.

Unseeded players of note: The key unseeded threat that lies in this quarter is Jelena Ostapenko, coming off her title at the WTA500 tournament in Eastbourne. She is a genuine threat and the potential meeting between her and Kasatkina in round 2 is one of the more fascinating in recent memory. One player that is on the way back from injury is Coco Vandeweghe, who plays an aggressive game on the grass and can challenge most match-up styles. She is one of the reasons I have not opted for a pre-tournament trading selection from this quarter. Of the others Marta Kostyuk, Katerina Siniakova, Marketa Vondrousova and Alize Cornet are all capable of causing upsets, however, may struggle to feature late in week 2.


Quarter 2

Elina Svitolina: Whilst she can keep the ball in play and extend rallies, I do still worry that Svitolina lacks the offensive firepower to take matters into her own hands to assert her authority on matches. Made the semi-finals here in the last edition in 2019, however, the losses to Alexandrova and Rybakina in the lead-in tournaments has not lessened the question marks around her game.

Paula Badosa: One of the form players of 2021, however, will this translate to the grass? Went back and practised on hardcourt in the week after Roland Garros before travelling to the UK to practice on the grass and play Eastbourne. Not sure I can take her at the price given the proven grass court ability of others in this quarter.

Karolina Muchova: One of the more intriguing players in the draw. Whilst she did lose to Kudermetova in the heat in Berlin a couple of weeks ago in three sets, there are a few reasons why the Czech still appeals. When ranked 68 in the world in 2019 she made a run to the quarter-finals, losing what was a tight 2 set match to Svitolina. She also has shown her ability at the grand slam level given her run to the semifinal at the Australian Open earlier this year. She has a great serve, is comfortable playing low balls off both wings, and can utilize the backhand slice as well as almost anyone in the game. Trading value.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: Like other players who made a deep run at Roland Garros, the backup with limited grass court tennis is going to be a major issue. With a 23-27 record on grass for her career, I cannot entertain the Russian in the outright markets.

Belinda Bencic: Another player who has ticked the box of showing her capabilities as a grass court tennis player, boasting a 47-21 record on the surface over her career. Lost the final in Berlin a couple of weeks ago to Samsonova from 6-1 up and may struggle a little if she were to make a run deep in terms of finishing off tight matches (that US Open match vs Andreescu a couple of years ago is at the front of my mind). I will not be opposing her, but I prefer others in this quarter.

Coco Gauff: Went on an incredible run here in 2019 as a 15-year-old. With so many improvements made to her overall game since then, she does need to be respected in this pocket of the draw. She was very up-and-down in Eastbourne, coming back from the brink to beat Elise Mertens, before falling to Anastasija Sevastova after serving for a straight set win. I rate the grass court game of Bencic, Gauff, Kerber and Williams in this pocket, so it is hard to confidently back any of the four as all can beat each other on their day.

Angelique Kerber: Blasted her way back into the calculations with her first title since Wimbledon 2018 over the weekend, winning at home in Bad Homburg. It was a relatively soft draw when you compare it to the names she is due to face here though. I will monitor Kerber early coming off that title.

Serena Williams: This is most likely the last time in her career that Serena Williams comes into a grand slam as the favourite. The issue for her is she is still $8, and not odds on like past years. As I have said above, I respect the form of Bencic/Gauff/Kerber too much to become invested in this pocket, and I think I will instead focus on a player from the top half of this quarter in the outright betting.

Unseeded players of note: The four names capable of upsets at their best here are Kaja Juvan, Camilla Giorgi, Amanda Anisimova, Alison Van Uytvanck, however, it is difficult to see an unseeded player come out of this section given the strength of some of the seeded players.


Quarter 3

Karolina Pliskova: Finally made the move to back her in the outright markets last week and she lost in the first round. Whilst she is not the best player in this quarter, I do feel you could do a lot worse than a 0.1 unit staking on Pliskova at the $60 available. One of the few players who almost always has the match on her racquet, which is both a blessing and a curse.

Alison Riske: Made a fantastic run here in 2019, however, I do not think I have seen enough in her form over the course of the last 12 months to confidently warrant a selection here in what is an incredibly open tournament.

Jessica Pegula: A little too one dimensional on the grass from what I have seen to date which has led to her outright price sitting north of $150. Tough draw for the American with Petra Kvitova looming nearby. Prefer match to match.

Petra Kvitova: Last time I backed her in the outright markets was Roland Garros, and she managed to roll her ankle at the press conference and was forced to withdraw. She is the fourth favourite for the tournament behind Williams, Barty and Sabalenka, and I think she is a touch long in the odds in comparison to that trio. Kvitova was able to show she had recovered from her injury with her semi-final appearance at Bad Homburg, losing to Kerber in a third set tiebreak after a rollercoaster third set.

Commands respect here as a past champion and has all the tools to be a very tough opponent on the grass. A bit like at Roland Garros, I think I prefer staking her price in the outright markets than match to match. Unforced errors, or press conferences, are her two main chances of faltering, however, at the price I will be looking to be in a profitable position were she to win the tournament. Tricky first-round match with Sloane Stephens, however, she is the overwhelming favourite in that match.

Elise Mertens: Threw away a fantastic situation against Coco Gauff in Eastbourne last week. Mertens lacks the killer instinct that compels me to back players in these ultra-competitive outright markets, so I will pass for now and consider her match to match.

Madison Keys: The American is one of the big unknowns in this section. She is another player who is likely to have most points decided by her ability to hit a winner or an unforced error. In the outright markets at the price that is currently available of $60, I do not have the trust in her game on 2021 form for an error-heavy performance to not occur sometime in the fortnight.

Veronika Kudermetova: The Russian has made great improvements in her overall game; however, I do not think the grass is suited to her game at this stage of her career. Too inconsistent to take the outright price on offer, especially with the likes of Kvitova and Pliskova in the quarter. I also have Kudermetova on upset alert in round 1 given the recent form of Viktorija Golubic recently.

Sofia Kenin: Whilst she has shown her ability to handle the biggest stage with a grand slam win in Melbourne and a final appearance at Roland Garros, I would have rather seen her play a lead-in tournament to gauge her level on grass. One to monitor early with a tricky first-round meeting with Wang.

Unseeded players of note: The names that stand out the most are Viktorija Golubic, Sloane Stephens, Heather Watson and Liudmilla Samsonova, however, I do not quite have them in the overall outright frame unless injuries occur to some seeded players.


Quarter 4

Iga Swiatek: Sitting around $20 in the market at the time of writing, and that looks about right based on this draw. The second and third sets against Kasatkina last week left a LOT to be desired, so I am curious to see how she starts this week. She won the tournament here as a junior, however, is yet to look dominant on the surface at the top level (albeit with limited opportunities to date). She will have the perfect test in round 1 with Su-Wei Hsieh at the other end of the court. We will know more about her after this match.

Petra Martic: Unlucky to draw Belinda Bencic in back-to-back weeks in lead up tournaments, however, the performances on both occasions are almost enough on their own to be concerned. Whilst she has a style that can work well on grass, the question is her ability to maintain it. Too many better in this quarter to consider for any outright.

Ons Jabeur: Finally broke through at WTA level for a title on the grass in Birmingham. I am happy to forgive the three-set loss to Ostapenko when backing up from the title, and the win looks pretty good considering Ostapenko went on the win the tournament. She has the game to cause opponents a lot of grief on the grass. A bit like Kvitova, I would almost rather get involved with Jabeur in the outright market than take large minus game handicaps in early matches. Her serve is an important piece of the puzzle, and the numbers are still on the low side. She is more than capable against many of these players in the quarter and commands respect.

Garbine Muguruza: I need to see Muguruza on court before making further judgements. She has not looked 100% for the better part of a couple of months now, so it is hard to be too enticed by the price. If she makes a run through the early rounds, I may consider keeping her safe in the outright markets.

Maria Sakkari: Another I had hoped to see in the lead-up tournaments, but deservedly took a break after a draining fortnight at Roland Garros. Surrounded by players that can hit her off the court on grass, and I do worry a little about how her backhand will fare with the ball staying low.

Elena Rybakina: Made the quarter-final at Roland Garros, and she is another one of those players who has not played a lot of tennis on the grass surface since their breakthrough at the top level. The big worry is players who have a mix of being relatively powerful whilst at the same time capable of covering the court well, as we saw with the loss to Ostapenko in Eastbourne. Under consideration as a potential addition to the outright plays with a solid start against Mladenovic.

Ekaterina Alexandrova: In a very similar way to Madison Keys, I am more so drawn to Alexandrova in specific matchups than trusting her to maintain a level for 7 matches for an outright. I will pass for now.

Aryna Sabalenka: Now nestled in the position of the number 2 seed thanks to Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep not taking part in the tournament. She sits third favourite in the betting with an 18-13 record on grass. If she wants to take her game to the next level, she needs to look more dominant in the early stages of grand slams to establish confidence in her game to attack the second week. Like Swiatek, she has also received a tricky first-round opponent in Monica Niculescu. This will be a great learning experience for her first up. I am not saying she cannot win; however, I do not see value in her price at present.

Unseeded players of note: Not a lot of names standing out in the overall outright hunt in this quarter.


Summary

When the favourite for the tournament is $8+ it means we have a wide-open fortnight ahead. The market is not revolving around the success of any one player like the ATP draw, so I will start with a couple of selections pre-tournament, then look to add across the first week. There are a couple of players with tricky first rounds that I am keen to monitor early.

The main selection I will take here is Petra Kvitova to win the tournament. She sits in the other half of the draw to Barty and Williams and has the right mix of lead-in tennis on the surface and past form to consider as value at the current market price. The one spot where I may consider a partial lay of Kvitova before the semi-finals would be a meeting with Karolina Pliskova, so I will place a 0.1-unit stake on her as well.

I will also make some plays which will start as trading selections. Depending on the value of matchups across the fortnight, I may not necessarily trade out of these positions, however, there is likely to be an occasion to lay if they are to make the second week. The two I will start with here are Ons Jabeur and Karolina Muchova. Jabeur is one of the form players of the last few weeks, and I love the spot in the draw for Muchova, with Kerber/Gauff/Bencic/Serena battling in the other half of the quarter.

Stay tuned to the Hub as I will make some further outright selections across the course of the tournament.

Betting Strategy

BACK – 0.6 units Petra Kvitova to win (recorded at $17)

BACK – 0.5 units Karolina Muchova to win (recorded at $38)

BACK – 0.4 units Ons Jabeur to win (recorded at $38)

BACK – 0.1 units Karolina Pliskova to win (recorded at $60)


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