Our bumper Wimbledon preview picks out seven potential winners!
Let the summer truly begin!
We don’t just have amazing football and cricket to get stuck into – there is of course the annual fiesta of tennis that is Wimbledon. I must admit, due to the World Cup, last year’s Wimbledon totally passed me by, but this year’s competition—both the men’s and women’s—looks fascinating.
I’ll kick-off with the gents, where my first 3pt tip for a winner is none other than Novak Djokovic. The Serb won three straight Grand Slams prior to Rafa Nadal’s customary French Open victory last month, and is clearly still the man to beat on any surface other than clay.
It would be unwise to count out the other big player in this market—of course I’m talking about the king, Roger Federer—and his eight Wimbledon titles speak for themselves, particularly because his last was only two years ago.
However, while Fed has every chance of winning a 21st career Slam, Djokovic clearly has the edge over his Swiss rival, winning eight of their last 10 meetings.
Third-favourite Nadal hasn’t appeared in a Wimbledon final since 2011—which he lost to Djokovic—and I’m not giving him much of a chance here, particularly because he’d likely have to beat Nick Kyrgios, Denis Shapovalov, Marin Cilic, Dominic Thiem and Roger Federer – just to set up a potential final with Djokovic! I’m sorry, but it’s not happening.
Novak is the tournament favourite for a reason, and Federer is the only man with a realistic chance of stopping him. Even so, the Serb is my man to lift the trophy for a second successive year.
Elsewhere, I’ve identified three men who present nice each-way value (to at least reach the final); two of whom lie in Federer’s side of the draw.
Dominic Thiem is the first man who has a realistic chance of getting to the final at the very least. The Austrian has reached the last two French Open finals, and while his grass court record isn’t quite as impressive (injuries have also played a part), at the age of 25, Thiem will continue improving, and it’s only a matter of time before he makes a serious splash at Wimbledon. He’ll win a Grand Slam within the next few years, mark my words.
Going back to Federer, and one style which he’s struggled against in recent years at Wimbledon is the big server. He blew a two-set lead against Big-Serving Kevin Anderson in last year’s quarters, as well as tasting defeat in the 2016 semis to Milos Raonic.
One big server in Federer’s half of the draw is Marin Cilic—who has been there and done it in Grand Slams—and at 40/1, he’s not a bad bet to sneak through into a fourth major final. He’s perhaps not the player he was a year or two ago, but Cilic’s style has been quite effective on grass – evidenced by the fact he’s reached at least the quarters of this competition in four of the last five years.
Finally, I’m taking a punt on 18-year-old Canadian sensation Félix Auger-Aliassime. Though he’s without a title, runner-up medals in Rio, Lyon and Stuttgart shows just what he’s capable of.
However, his run to the semi-final of this year’s Queen’s—before losing to eventual winner Feliciano Lopez—started to really get people talking. Auger-Aliassime is still raw, but with that comes bags of talent.
Looking at the Ladies now, and I have three tips – starting with the favourite and World Number One Ashleigh Barty, who is simply inescapable in this market.
The Australian won this year’s French Open, producing a string of dominant displays from start to finish, and a warm-up victory at the Birmingham Classic—without dropping a single set—makes her my favourite to win a second straight Slam.
6/1 is quite a big price for Barty, but that’s perhaps been influenced by the fact she’s only ever reached the third-round at SW19. Regardless, she’s playing the best tennis of her career, so expect a deep run this time around.
Angelique Kerber is another strong candidate. Last year’s winner has slightly struggled this season, but her experience at Wimbledon could be crucial. At the time of writing, Kerber is preparing for the Eastbourne final against Karolina Pliskova, so it’s clear she’s coming into some very impressive form at the perfect time.
A victory over Simona Halep in the quarters is a good indication that Kerber is back to her best, and she won’t relinquish her Wimbledon crown without a serious fight.
Finally, I think Caroline Wozniacki is worth an each-way punt at 80/1. Realistically, the Dane should be a lot shorter than that, but injuries have plagued her for a little while now. The former World Number One has reached three Grand Slam finals (winning once), and a respectable showing at Eastbourne suggests she is far from a busted flush.
I’d honestly be surprised if Wozniacki reaches this year’s final—considering she’s never made it past the fourth round at Wimbledon—but 80/1 is too big for a player that talented, so she’s still worth backing each-way.