It is all eyes on the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club for the 131st edition of the Wimbledon Championships (Monday July 3 – Sunday July 16).
The oldest tennis tournament in the world and one of the most prestigious sporting events throughout history, Wimbledon is the only major played on grass courts. This year Andy Murray, the current world number one, enters as the defending champion on the men’s side, but beyond Murray remains tennis’ Big Four, who have had a stranglehold on the Wimbledon title for the past 14 years.
Roger Federer won the year’s first major, the Australian Open, defying tennis’ age gap by becoming a champion at 35 years old. Federer also made a strategic choice to skip the French Open this year so he could focus on Wimbledon, the major which has been incredibly good to him throughout his career. Federer will be looking for his record-breaking eighth championship at Wimbledon and 20th grand slam title overall.
Rafael Nadal is coming off winning that 2017 French Open that Federer opted not to play in, marking his record-breaking 10th title at the year’s only clay court major. Nadal also reached the finals of the Australian Open and while grass is not particularly his favorite surface, he has been playing some of his best tennis in quite a long time this year. Nadal last won at Wimbledon in 2010 and will be looking for his 16th grand slam title.
Then there is Novak Djokovic. The former unbeatable superstar of just a few years past, Djokovic has had very much an up-and-down year. He hasn’t won a major since last year’s Australian Open, marking the last eight grand slams going by without the Serbian lifting a championship. Considering Djokovic won three titles in 2015, it’s hard to believe just how much he’s suffered as of late. That being said, he still has the potential to win any major he participates in. Djokovic last won Wimbledon in 2015 and will be looking for his 13th grand slam title overall.
As for Murray, he is another guy who is in the midst of an up-and-down year. The 30-year-old, who finished 2016 on a torrid pace, reaching the finals in three of the four majors, has yet to win a major title in almost a year. He’s still the best player in the world as far as his ranking goes but he’s shown vulnerability this year and with how some of the others are playing, back-to-back championships might be harder for Murray than it seems. He’ll be gaining just his fourth grand slam title, and third at Wimbledon, if he happens to win.
It’s likely one of these men walks away with the championship, but there are a few others in the field that could surprise and claim the title.
This includes guys like Canada’s Milos Raonic, who was last year’s Wimbledon runner-up and who has been playing well this year too. Raonic defeated Federer in an absolutely brutal five-set thriller to advance to the finals, marking the biggest victory of his young career and one that helped catapult him as the number three ranked player in the world. He is seeded sixth for this year’s Wimbledon.
If not Raonic, Wimbledon’s fifth seeded player Stan Wawrinka is also one to keep an eye out for. After years of being the “other” Swissman, Wawrinka broke out of Federer’s shadow and began carving out a nice major track record of his own starting in 2014. In that time, Wawrinka has won three majors, the most recent at last year’s US Open. The only major Wawrinka has yet to win is in fact Wimbledon, where the best he has done is the quarterfinals, which he did back-to-back in 2014-15.
It is very likely one of these men will win, but which one is still very much up for debate.
Recapping the Grass Court Season and Handicapping the Favorites
One of the biggest indicators for any major is how the pre-major season shakes out as it gives the competitors a chance to test their mettle on the surface that is in play. In this case, it was the grass court season and unsurprisingly, it was Federer’s for the taking.
Federer won his title in Halle, helping him secure the third seed for this year’s Wimbledon. Djokovic meanwhile won the last tournament of the season at Eastbourne, which was just his second title on the year. This is definitely going to be a confidence booster as it will be for Feliciano Lopez and Gilles Muller, two grass court specialists who also picked up wins this season.
In light of these tournaments, Federer starts Wimbledon as circa 2/1 favorite with the United States’ online bookmakers. Nadal sits second (9/2), Murray third (5/1) and Djokovic (11/2 with Intertops Sportsbook) fourth, which is pretty much exactly how anyone could have expected it given the Big Four reputation.
Perhaps surprisingly is sometime big five competitor, Wawrinka, all the way down at 10th (33/1). But, given his lack of success at Wimbledon and no big results this year to boast, it does make sense he’d fall below someone like Raonic (16/1) or even Marin Cilic (16/1), who dropped serve just once across two grass court tune-ups. Cilic is a one-time major winner himself, breaking up a string of “Big Four” dominance when he won the US Open in 2014. Like Wawrinka however, Cilic has never made it out of the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, despite reaching that stage in each of the past three years.
Our Preview’s Men’s Wimbledon Predictions & Betting Picks
No one likely expected Federer to win another major at 35, especially considering he hadn’t reached the finals at all in 2016. But at this year’s Australian Open, all of the pieces fell into place and Federer lifted the trophy. With Federer on his game and playing fantastic tennis as of late, he is the favorite and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him win at all. In fact, it would be more surprising if he lost.
- For that reason, taking Federer to win isn’t exactly providing the best opportunity to make some cash, but it is certainly the safe bet. Wawrinka, Cilic or even Djokovic would be a good value bet but at the end of the day, expect Federer to win his second major in as many tries this year @ 2/1 with Intertops.