While it’s true to some players are more adept on grass than others, the differences are far less pronounced than in the past. With reduced ball pressures, gone are the days when clay court specialists consistently went out in the first week at SW19. With clay courts playing quicker than in the past, there are now very few reasons why clay courters should not be able to perform just as well on grass as they do on the dirt.
That said, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray still look a class apart at present especially with Roger Federer struggling for form and fitness. With Ivan Lendl back in Murray’s corner, the Scot’s chances of a second Wimbledon title are improved but it will take something special to derail the Nole Express as he chases a calendar Grand Slam. I would have been tempted by a ‘Name The Finalists’ bet but 15-8 is a bit skinny for my liking.
I can’t get excited about anyone in the outright market but the second quarter and third quarters look open. I’m surprised Roger Federer is odds-on for the second quarter given his struggles of late and Kei Nishikori is, by his own admission, not quite 100 percent fit. There are plenty with doubts so I’m going to advise a small wager on Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller who is playing well on the grass. Muller is a big server who is in good form and a fair price.
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Grigor Dimitrov has not won since losing the plot and smashing his racket against Diego Schwartzman in Istanbul. He is one to be opposed and Bjorn Fratangelo is learning quickly on the grass. The American broke into the top 100 too late to gain automatic entry to Wimbledon but he came through the qualifiers in good style. I like his attitude to the game and I think he is a big price to win his opener and a huge price to win his quarter.
The third quarter is also interesting with Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem players who have yet to show their best on grass. Former US champion Juan Martin del Potro is interesting but 14-1 about Bernard Tomic looks far too big. The Australian showed decent form at Queen’s Club and there are no scary prospects in this quarter.
Obviously, big servers have a hefty advantage on grass with breaks at a premium. Kevin Anderson and Denis Istomin are two players who hold serve with great regularity. I remember Istomin playing Leonardo Mayer at Nottingham last year and it was one of the most boring matches I have ever seen - scarcely a winner in sight and players holding serve with little chance of a break. So while I certainly wouldn’t watch this match, I would definitely have a bet on the first set going to a tiebreak.