With Wimbledon starting on Monday, I am getting asked for my tips as per usual. So, I have spread my chips and thrown a few arrows. I have done what I normally do, given my main selections and then given a few bigger prices for the punters who want a speculative bet. I will start with the Men’s 1st Quarter.
Federer probably really should win this quarter as the 4/9 suggests, but I am willing to take him on at short odds on, only for a small investment though. He won Stuttgart and played reasonably well, though he was extended Mischa Zverev and Nick Kyrgios. He didn’t play with the same fluency in Halle and that has convinced me to get against him. He was outplayed by Borna Coric in the final. I would love to put up Coric as my selection here but his lack of form over five sets means I’m finding it difficult. He still hasn’t got past the third round of a Slam. This will change but the top price of 12/1 in a quarter that includes Federer doesn’t tickle my fancy. Gilles Muller is usually a runner at this time of the year but he has been struggling on return from injury. I thought I might be talking up Kevin Anderson’s chances but I’m not sure he is over his loss to Diego Schwartzman at the French yet. Due to this and the lack of form around it makes it pretty difficult. Sam Querrey at 22/1 should give you a solid run with his grass court expertise, so I’ll have a small go there. Gasquet is playing well but you can never back him with full confidence. If you can get on the 33/1 or 40/1 it might be worth a tickle, should the Fed-Express slip up.
It is hard to see past Marin Cilic here, who you can back at 6/4. The winner at Queens Club recently and his general improvement over the last year means you expect him to get over the line for this quarter. Especially as last years runner-up at SW19 and having reached the final in Melbourne at the start of the year. It is obvious that Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov are dangers but Raonic cannot be trusted to stay injury free and Dimitrov hasn’t convinced me enough again. He also faces Wawrinka in the first round. It looks a bit early for Stefanos Tsitsipas to get through the kind of draw yet and Isner hasn’t been fit of late. All this should play into the Croats hands.
This is a section that contains, Sascha Zverev, Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic (favourite for the quarter) but it is Nick Kyrgios that I fancy here at 9/2 or 5/1. The Ozzy played well at Queens, making the semis losing to Cilic, he is also talking a very good game going into the event. I probably have too much faith in him here but if he plays to his level, I honestly think he can walk away with this quarter. Kei Nishikori has put me off by constantly talking down his grass court chances. Kyle Edmund has a half chance but it just looks a step too far at the moment. Three players at bigger prices worth keeping a look out on here are Karen Khachanov at 33/1, Frances Tiafoe at 66/1 and Ernests Gulbis at 100/1. More than likely throwaway bets but a bit of insurance if Nick doesn’t oblige.
A quarter that contains Rafa and Delpo. Muzza was in here until his withdrawal, just when I was starting to write this. It is difficult to strongly fancy the top two at the prices. Rafa is generally 6/5 and Delpo 3/1. Rafa has not got past the fourth round here in the last 6 years and Delpo has not gone past the third round since 2013, though he has missed it a couple of times as Rafa has once in that spell. Rafa in particular looks to have a good draw but I think it might be worth looking elsewhere, as much love as I have for him. I think this is another section not to get too heavily involved in. Smaller bets on Jeremy Chardy and Feliciano Lopez, both at 25/1-33/1 look the bets. Chardy has been tearing it up on the Main Tour and Challenger Tour on the green stuff and Lopez has always had a top grass court pedigree. These haven’t been two players to always trust though, hence smaller bets. I am tempted to say Alex De Minaur can be added to that list, but only if it is at 80/1 – 100/1 with Bet365, Betfred or Tote. It would be a huge ask for the 19-year-old Ozzy but the class is clearly there.
Federer is obviously rightly a clear favourite here at 2/1 but I just can’t bring myself to back it from what I have seen the last few weeks. It will be no surprise should he win this again but I’m not going to put my money there. So, from that I will take the 7/1 Cilic that is freely available and the 20’s Nick Kyrgios. Sounds very risky I know but Cilic might just be ready this time around. I like what I have seen from him and Nick has that ability just to turn the switch (plus you aren’t losing too much at 20/1). I just can’t justify backing the other players in the market around either of these. For the bigger price players out there take the 100’s Sam Querrey but I think it is too bigger ask for the American all in all.
Now for the Ladies.
Though I have never fully trusted Petra not to throw in a poor match I think she is at her most trustworthy right now. Halep maybe top-seeded but Kvitova is the clear favourite for this quarter and I would take the 15/8. She played well enough in Edgbaston taking the title and I am not concerned about the withdrawal in Eastbourne. It would have been with this in mind. A two time Champion at SW19 with proven pedigree on grass to prevail in this section. Jo Konta is in this quarter as are Jelena Ostapenko and Maria Sharapova. Konta and Sharapova’s form hasn’t been upto scratch for me, though the Brit should be gearing her year around this. I liked her last year but not so much this time around. Out of those three, I would probably side with Ostapenko but I won’t be investing. Instead of going for one of the boring options outside of this I would cover myself with the bigger prices of Sofia Kenin (200/1), Maria Sakkari (80/1) and Kirsten Flipkens (66/1). Kenin and Sakkari square off in their opener in what should be a close affair. Two players who have impressed me and have looked good on the surface. Flipkens is certainly proven on the surface and has had a runners-up spot in s-Hertogenbosch a few weeks ago and beat Katie Boulter in the ITF Southsea final this week. The Belgian was a semi-finalist back in 2013 at Wimbledon.
Though Garbine Muguruza is defending champion and a top, top player, she is never a price that I think is backable with her form coming into a slam. Her loss to Barbora Strycova in Edgbaston is proof of that. I like Angie Kerber here at 7/2 – 4/1. She played well in Eastbourne and it took a high-quality loss to Wozniacki to stop her. She will be kept on her toes by the draw from the word go, starting with Vera Zvonareva. I think this will keep the German focused, so Angie is my main selection in this quarter. Daria Kasatkina is in this section and I am a big fan but outside of Kerber, I would probably go with Ash Barty at 8/1 and Naomi Osaka, though still relatively unproven on the grass at as big as 20/1. I remember tipping up Anett Kontaveit this time last year and as with Kasatkina, I am a big fan. The Estonian doesn’t looked to have settled on the grass so far this season, making it difficult to tip her this time.
In this quarter I am going to side with Julia Goerges in a section that contains Sloane Stephens, Karolina Pliskova and Venus. The German has impressed me in the last year and she had a few results in the build-up here. Her big serve and heavy groundstrokes could see her go close. Around her, Sloane hasn’t played since the French and though I am sure she will have a big run here, I’m not sure it is going to be this year after her exertions in Paris. Pliskova always looks beatable, especially when she is having an off day on serve. Venus stands a great chance and if you are looking to go with the tried and tested then you can back her between 6/1 and 13/2. I just have a feeling it might not be her year. Obvious chances though and decent draw early on. Vika Azarenka is in this section too but isn’t in good enough form for me right now. Aryna Sabalenka shone on her way to the final in Eastbourne this week, where she lost to Caroline Wozniacki. Too many three-set matches might just catch up with her though. Other players at punter friendly prices are Mihaela Buzarenescu (33/1 – 50/1 and plays Sabalenka first round), Mona Barthel (50/1 – 66/1) and Donna Vekic (33’s – 50’s and plays Stephens). These are the three outsiders with a chance in my eyes.
Madison Keys is the second favourite for this quarter and though people think it is only a matter of time for her on grass, I’m not convinced this will be the year. Coco Vandeweghe also likes this time of year but she doesn’t seem quite right at the moment. Elina Svitolina is the fifth seed and highly rated on grass but I don’t think she is the same force on the surface. Caroline Wozniacki has every chance here but it is difficult to tip here up when she hasn’t been passed the last 16 yet. The reports from the practice courts sound like Serena is moving well and if you can get on at 5/2 it could be the (biased) bet. Williams does have a nice looking draw here though in my defence and you would think this was one of the two targets for the season (The U.S Open being the other). Maggie Rybarikova is once again worth a few quid in this section (16/1 – 18/1). Her run to the final in Edgbaston showed she is in decent form and I think she wanted a week’s break last week, as she has semi-final points to defend here. I am not too concerned about the pullout against Su-Wei Hsieh in Eastbourne. The quote of 80/1 Aleksandra Krunic is a very, very tempting bet here too. Bit of a ridiculous price that.
Out of the big three I have put up in the quarter’s, Serena, Kvitova and Kerber, I wouldn’t say there was much value floating about necessarily. I honestly, like the bookmakers, think that this could be a Serena/Petra final, so make of that what you will. You can back that at 10/1 (name the finalist market) and I’ll get involved there. Kvitova is the slight favourite at 5/1 with Serena second at 6/1. As it stands this represents a great chance for both of them. You know I am biased but I also think you know who I would choose here if I had to out the two. The 6/1 it is then. I honestly couldn’t respect Petra anymore as a Williams fan though. Kerber is 12/1 and should go close but I just feel she might come a cropper somewhere.
For the bigger price backers amongst you, Rybarikova is as big as 50’s with firms and 85 on the Betfair Exchange. The way she played over this period last year has convinced me it is worth parting with a few quid. Julia Goerges at 100/1 with firms and 150 on Betfair Exchange also looks big. Venus is also tempting at 50/1 on the outright for a cover. I would rather back her each-way here than for the quarter.
Happy viewing and hopefully you get a few winners.
Andy Del Potro