In this epic summer of sport, the yearly drama down in SW22 may run the risk of getting side-lined by Olympics fever. For the truly devoted tennis fans, though, there’s no pleasure to top the genteel thrill of the world’s finest tennis players battling it out over the greensward.
But what if merely watching doesn’t give you enough of a kick? If you’re the sort of tennis fan who likes to stake a bit of yourself – or at least your cash – in the outcome, you’re going to need a guide to this year’s Best Wimbledon Betting Odds.
In the men’s draw it’s hard to look past the finalists from the recent French Open, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. How to split them? Djokovic will be defending his Wimbledon title, nicked from Nadal along with his world number one spot, a position he still holds; but Rafa was awesome in winning the French final and might feel he has the rub of the green.
But the results only go so far: that final was rain-affected and, as Craig O’Shannessy astutely pointed out on the New York Times Blog, Djokovic’s eight-game winning streak within that match, in which he won 73 per cent of the points against the Spaniard on his best surface, was a feat practically worth a championship in its own right.
More volatile, but a good outside option at 25/1 with Blue Square Bet, is big-hitting Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. His odds are much better than those of Federer and the big British hope Murray, with whom he arguably shares an equal chance of breaking the Nadal-Djokovic stranglehold, so he has to be worth a punt.
Anyone who saw his heroic five set defeat to the latter in the French quarter finals will know that he has everything he needs to unseat the champion at the All England Club – as long as he can keep his mind on track.
In stark contrast to the men’s draw, Wimbledon’s women’s crown is far more open. Each favourite seems in some way compromised: this time last year, defending champion Petra Kvitová probably expected to be world number one by now, but a series of early-round defeats have meant that the top spot remains elusive. Her straight-forward (6-3 6-3) semi-final defeat to Maria Sharapova in the French will do nothing to allay fears of a loss of form.
Sharapova’s momentum is running in the opposite direction, having regained the head of the rankings with her French Open victory, making her only the 10 woman to achieve a career Grand Slam. The aggressive Russian is seeded no.1 at this year’s Wimbledon for the first time in her career, and her mental toughness combined with consistently deep and powerful ground strokes make her equal favourite status (at 11/4 with Serena Williams) difficult to dispute. But her serve is vulnerable, and her recent renaissance follows a long slump, around which question marks remain.
A promising outside bet in the women’s, like Tsonga, at 25/1, but in fact an even better shout, due to the greater uncertainty of women’s tennis at present, is top Chinese player Li Na. The 2011 French Open champion is the first Asian woman to win a Slam and, with a decent record against Sharapova of late (four victories in the last five, all of which in straight sets), she must fancy her chances of chalking up a second Grand Slam victory.
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