Anyone For Tennis? Will Wimbledon Serve Up Drama On Or Off The Court?
This coming Monday, one of the great British sporting institutions of the summer will get underway at the famous All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, SW19.
Better known as the Wimbledon Championships, the tournament is the highlight of the short grass season and for many tennis stars, it remains the pinnacle of their sport to be able to call themselves the Wimbledon Champion.
With the qualifiers for the tournament going on this week for the last few places in that first round draw, there is plenty of great betting opportunity coming up over the following fortnight as the field of 128 players in the men’s and women’s draw are whittled down to the last player standing, who will hold aloft their respective trophies.
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Pre-Tournament News Snippets And Build Up
We have already had one of the most tumultuous years in tennis history and that is only going to continue as we head into Wimbledon fortnight starting on Monday.
- Bye Bye Barty As Swiatek Comes To The Fore
At the first Slam of the year, Ashleigh Barty landed the Australian Open and the women’s World Number 1 and Wimbledon Champion last year retired from the game in stunning fashion at the age of just 25.
This seemed to leave a void in the women’s game at the top of the rankings, but Poland’s Iga Swiatek has stepped in to fill that void on the back of a truly sensational run of form.
Wins at the Qatar Total Open, Indian Wells, Miami Open, Stuttgart Open, Italian Open and French Open have seen her win six tournaments in a row, cementing her status as World Number 1 and she has now not lost in 35 games ahead of Wimbledon.
The 21-year-old Polish star has won the French Open twice but will be hoping to improve on her best performance at Wimbledon which came in 2021 when she reached the fourth round.
Swiatek’s ascendancy to the top of the women’s game has also coincided with a great start to the year for Rafael Nadal in the men’s game.
The Spaniard has won both Slam events so far this year in Australia and at his beloved French Open, his 14th win in that particular tournament, and he now holds the record in the men’s game of 22 Grand Slam titles, two ahead of his rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
- Controversial Ban On Russian & Belarussian Players
However, the big talking points in the game ahead of the tournament has been the ban imposed on Russian and Belarussian players for this tournament, as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The ban has been met with anger by a number of male and female players, especially with the news that Wimbledon would now not offer any ranking points to the winner as a result of the ban.
Five players in the top 50 in the men’s draw will be absent including World Number 1 Danill Medvedev, Andrey Rublev (8), Karen Khachanov (26), Aslan Karatsev (34) and Ilya Ivashka (48).
In the women’s tournament, a large number of players inside the top 100 will be absent including Aryna Sabalenka (4), Anatsasia Pavlyuchenkova (15), Viktoria Azarenka (17) plus the likes of Darya Kasatkina, Veronika Kudermatova, Ludmila Samsonava and Ekaterina Alexandrova to name but a few.
- British Stars Beset By Injury Issues And Serena Makes Her Return
Home fans hoping for British success have been stymied by the news that the two biggest hopes, Emma Raducanu and Andy Murray, have both been injured in the lead up to the tournament with both questionable to play at Wimbledon this year.
Even if they do play, and Murray seems the more likely of the two to make it onto court, then how fully fit they are remains to be seen.
However, there is some good news for fans of tennis legend Serena Williams as the greatest female player of all time, in my view, will make her return after a year out at Wimbledon this year, after injuring herself in the first round of the tournament last year.
Men’s Tournament Tips
Last year’s champion Novak Djokovic is the 4/5 odds on favourite to retain the title with Matteo Berettini at 11/2 and Rafa Nadal a 13/2 chance to land his third Slam event of the season and to keep his hopes of a Grand Slam alive.
Clay court specialist Carlos Alcaraz is 8/1, and then the odds in the men’s tournament start to drift quite markedly after that, Andy Murray being a 25/1 shot the best British hope according to the bookies.
It’s hard to see Nadal and Djokovic not dominating this event in the absence of a number of top players from Russia and Belarus and I think a final between the two could well be on the cards and once again, I think Djokovic will come out on top.
Women’s Tournament Tips
Unsurprisingly, it is Iga Swiatek who is the 6/4 heavy favourite to win the women’s event as she seeks to extend her 35-game unbeaten run across six tournaments at Wimbledon.
The Pole has only got to the 4th round at Wimbledon previously and grass is not her favourite surface and the return of Serena Williams (16/1), plus the emergence of Cori Gauff (10/1) and the return to form of Simona Halep (12/1) does make this look a tough task for the Pole.
Williams will be the name all the seeds want to avoid in the draw as the American legend will be a wildcard in this event, meaning she could draw any of the top 32 seeds in the first round.
Britain’s Emma Raducanu is 16/1, but injury may mean she does not play in the event and even if she does, her form means she doesn’t really warrant consideration here.
For me, Iga Swiatek is the pick here. Her price is very short, but there is a very good reason for that – she’s been pretty much unbeatable for the last few months. The grass court may give others a chance, notably Gauff, Halep and Williams if she is at her best, but I still think Swiatek is the smart bet here.