Following two weeks of extraordinary tennis, only two men remain with a shot at winning the 2017 Wimbledon Championship (9am ET Sunday).
One of them, (#7) Marin Cilic, is a 28-year-old Croatian who has been on the tour since 2005 but prior to this year had never reached the final at any other major with the exception of the U.S. Open which he won in 2014. The other is (#3) Roger Federer, the 35-year-old Swissman who has been on tour since 1998 and who will be looking for his record-breaking eighth Wimbledon title come this Sunday. Needless to say, Federer is the hot favorite.
Federer is the No. 5 ranked player in the world but that standing doesn’t do justice to the career renaissance year he has been having in 2017.
Following a 2016 season which saw Federer lose his first ever Wimbledon semifinal as well as miss the Summer Olympics and U.S. Open due to recovering from knee surgery, Federer came out of the gate strong in time for the start of the 2017 season. At the year’s first grand slam, Federer defeated top-10 players Tomas Berdych and Kei Nishikori en route to the quarterfinals where he defeated Mischa Zverev and the semis where he defeated countryman Stan Wawrinka. At 35, this made Federer the oldest man to reach a grand slam final since Ken Rosewall in 1974. Matched up against longtime rival Rafael Nadal, Federer won his 18th major title, defeating Nadal for the first time at a major that wasn’t held on Wimbledon’s grass courts.
Taking this momentum into the clay court season was not the smart long-term move and Federer wisely decided to skip his worst major to prepare for his best. By the time the season returned to the grass, Federer was well-rested, winning the Halle Open for a record-extending ninth time without even dropping a set. This was one of several grass court performances in which Federer shone, all of which helped him enter Wimbledon as the favorite with the major USA online sports betting sites.
Federer opened his campaign for a 19th grand slam championship with a two set victory over Alexander Dolgopolov who was forced to retire with an injury. He then defeated Dusan Lajovic and (#27) Mischa Zverev in short order to reach the round of 16, where he faced and won in straight sets, against Gregor Dimitrov. He proceeded to defeat (#6) Milos Raonic and (#11) Tomas Berdych in straight sets to set up this championship showdown with Cilic.
The scary part for Cilic is that Federer hasn’t dropped a set this entire tournament and more than that, he hasn’t even been in danger of doing so, nor has he looked particularly vulnerable. Federer is playing some of the best tennis of his career at the age of 35. That’s definitely a prospect that won’t inspire much hope in other members of the tour, even Cilic, who is the only man not named Federer, Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray or Stan Wawrinka, to win a major since 2010.
Can Cilic Pull an Upset?
When I wrote my preview prior to the start of the tournament regarding who would be the best bet to take home the trophy, I chose Federer because of the way he was playing and the fact that no one has been as successful at Wimbledon.
However, I also made sure to note that Cilic was a real dark horse but one who had been playing an excellent grass court season, having dropped serve just once in his two tournaments prior to Wimbledon. Cilic was someone to watch even if he hadn’t made it out of the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in his career, despite reaching that stage each of the past three years.
Turns out there is a first time for everything as Cilic is in the finals this year following a quartet of straight set victories over Philipp Kohlschreiber, Florian Mayer, (#26) Steve Johnson and (#18) Roberto Bautista Agut. Cilic’s first real challenge came in the quarterfinals in a tough five-setter against (#16) Gilles Muller, who had also been playing a solid grass court season with a victory in one of the tune-up tournaments. Cilic then faced another tough opponent in (#24) Sam Querrey, who like Cilic was playing in his first semifinal at Wimbledon. The two hard servers battled in four tight sets but ultimately Cilic was just a little better and booked his trip to the finals.
Over the course of his career, Cilic has beaten Federer just once in seven tries. That win however could be confidence boosting as it happened in the semifinals of the U.S. Open in 2014, the major Cilic went on to win. Their most recent meeting however is less inspiring as Cilic lost to Federer in a five set thriller at last year’s Wimbledon.
The takeaway from both of these matches however is that Cilic can play Federer tough. In fact, the three times these two have met in grand slams, Cilic has never once lost to Federer in straight sets. It’s a small sample size but given the way Federer has been playing, one that Cilic could hang his hat on for a glimmer of hope at the upset.
Our Preview’s Men’s Wimbledon Final Betting Predictions & Picks
Given the way Federer has been playing, and I mean no disrespect to Cilic, but it’s hard to see any other outcome than a Swiss victory. This is Federer’s major. These are his crowds, and come Sunday, this will be his moment and just another chapter in what truly has been a year to remember for the 35-year-old father of four.
- I expect Federer to win, as I predicted at the start of the tournament, but I like the idea of taking Cilic to best the 2.5 set spread that Federer is favored to have. To win that pick, Cilic needs to win at least one set. But the total can be bet over 3.5 sets, and that would be won if Cilic loses 3-1 or does even better than that. So rather than doing two wagers that collect for almost identical outcomes, just go over 3.5 sets @ -120 betting odds with Bovada Sportsbook. It gives you more options to win.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.