If you glance only at the four leading Vegas favorites for Wimbledon, you could be lulled into thinking that the Big Four Era is ever-rumbling along smoothly. Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray are the four leading favorites, in that order, but there are more question marks than exclamation points around each of the venerable contenders. Federer didn’t even play the French due to injury and made an early exit in his return from injury, raising some legitimate questions about his favorite status (and his ridiculously advanced, in tennis terms, age). Rafa Nadal ripped through the French Open with vigor, dropping nary a set in racking up La Decima. But 10 of his 15 majors are at Roland Garros. Grass is less friendly.
Novak Djokovic has been a far cry from his 2014-2016 self thus far in 2017 and Andy Murray, despite remaining the World’s #1 player, has looked anything but. The Big Four might be more a of “biggest four, I guess, since no one else has crashed the party” four thus far in 2017. In fact, just today Andy Murray lost his opening round match at Queen’s (as did Milos Raonic and Stan Wawrinka – what’s going on?!?)
There is no prohibitive favorite, which in some ways, makes the 2017 Wimbledon one of the most interesting in years.
The draw will be available on June 30th, so we will be back with a more in-depth preview looking at the bracket, updated odds, etc. But first, here’s an early look at some of the favorites, as well as a few new names who could crash the party.
Early 2017 Wimbledon Preview
The Gentleman Champion: Roger Federer +300
It doesn’t get much more beautiful than watching Fed slice one-hand back hands across the grass at Wimbledon. He has been doing it for so long, it is hard to remember what the event even looked like before he graced the lawns in London. We took his favorite status as an absolute, a forgone conclusion, for so long, but this year FEELS special. Three years ago, the articles were “should Roger retire?” Now, in 2017, after winning the first major of the year, the question is once again, “can anyone beat Roger on grass?” Three to one aren’t commanding odds, but they are easily the slimmest on the board.
There’s a lot at stake for Roger. First and foremost, a record-extending eighth championship at the All England tennis club, and a record extending nineteenth major – and easily the most improbably given his age in a game that is cruel to players past 30. If you are a “Roger guy” you likely already consider him the GOAT. If you are NOT, a win at Wimbledon makes your position nearly untenable. An eighth win, just a month shy of his 36th birthday, all but closes that argument. Crown him. Next story.
But WILL he win? There are some real obvious concerns, namely his recent injury. Some suggest he may have been more laying up for one more run in London than “hurt”, but either way, he sat out the French and didn’t look great in his most recent match returning. He hasn’t won Wimbledon since 2012. That’s a CAREER for many tennis players. Can it really just be a “slow half-decade” for Fed??
The French Open Champion and Two-Time Wimbledon Champ:
Rafa Nadal +550
Rafa looked AMAZING in Paris; as dominant as at any point in his historically-dominant career. His tenth French Open title was a thing of beauty, and he looked frankly unbeatable.
And what else is new? Rafa has looked unbeatable on clay many a time, only to return to the grass a few weeks later and find a different result. He hasn’t won Wimbledon since 2010, and has gone as far as the fourth round only ONCE since a Finals loss in 2011. So why should this year be any different?? He is healthy, but will it be enough to turn back time once again…
The People’s Champion: Andy Murray +300
There is little doubt whom the people at the All England Club will be pulling for, but will the fervent support be enough to jump start Andy Murray’s miserable 2017 season? Just when it looked like the bottom had been reached for Murray, he exited the first round at the Queen’s today by losing to Jordan Thompson in straight sets. If you are unfamiliar with Jordan Thompson, it is probably because you are not related to him. Entering today, the 23-year old Aussie was 8-7 this season and had career winnings of just $161,000.
So…yeah. It’s not great right now for Andy Murray.
Murray did make the Semi’s in Paris, losing in five sets to Wawrinka, immediately after exiting the prior tournament (also on clay) in the first round, so perhaps today’s loss simply means a few weeks to rest and recover. But you’d certainly like to see a few more signs of life before plopping down money on the co-favorite in Vegas.
That said, he is 53-9 career at Wimbledon and has failed to make the semi’s only once since 2009, falling in the quarters in 2014. He is the reigning champ at the All England, and has won two of the past four crowns. His play suggests no chance, but in this wide open field, I wouldn’t count Murray out just yet in his quest for a triumphant homecoming and defense of his Wimbledon crown.
The Best Player in the World, Right… Right? : Novak Djokovic +600
I don’t care that Novak is just 14-4 this season and was humiliated in the quarterfinals in Paris in straight sets by Dominic Thiem. Seeing this guy at +600 in this soft a field makes my eyes light up. Djokovic is 24-11 against Murray in his career, and yes, Andy owns a 2-0 grass edge, but by no means “owns” Novak on any surface.
Novak left disappointingly early last year; getting stunned in the third round. Prior to that, he had won three of the last five Wimbledon Championships, lost in one final and made another semi. His excellence in this tournament has been long sustained, and despite a less than Nole-like 2017, he should still be considered a strong favorite in this tournament. I’d be very surprised is Djokovic is gone before the semis, though I will wait to see the draw next week.
The Always Underrated Great Hedge Play: Stan Wawrinka +2500
Here we go again. NO one ever respects this guy despite having won more majors than anyone other than Djokovic over the past three and half seasons. More than Rafa, more than Federer, more than Murray. He was a great hedge play in the French, advancing all the way to the Final. He should be a solid hedge play here as well.
Here’s the caveat. Wawrinka, for all his Major excellence, he has only made it to the quarterfinals twice in his Wimbldeon career, and never advanced any further. He is just a paltry 18-12 in his career, suggesting grass may not be an ideal environment for The Stanimal.
The flip side is that the field is weaker than in most of his career. The Big Four all have holes; age, injury or simply bad play, and the next generation hasn’t yet emerged as solidly legitimate threats to unseat the old hierarchy. If Stan was ever going to sneak in and make a run in England, this is the year.
Young Guns with a Fightin’ Chance
Alexi Zverev: +2500
Most books have the young gun at +2000, but +2500 can be had if you shop around a little bit. If this is the year someone is breaking through, Zverev feels like a great value wager. The twenty- year- old German has already defeated Marin Cilic, Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic, and Novak Djokovic this season. That is like taking a marker to every poster he likely had hanging in his room over the last decade and crossing them off one by one. He is 29-11 this season and has won three singles titles – and beating an (obviously) impressive roster of people in doing so. If he gets a chance against Federer, Nadal or Murray in a few weeks, can he add another head to his mantle??
Milos Raonic: +1400
This is another nice hedge play. Raonic doesn’t really fit the “young up and comer” mold at this point, having turned 26 and been on the big stage for more than half a decade, but he is still significantly younger than the Big Four + Wawrinka and could be poised for a breakthrough. He was a Finalist last year at the All England, losing to Andy Murray in straight sets but with two tie breakers, and was a semi-finalist in 2014. He is 22-7 this season and hasn’t won a singles title, but is still a dangerous matchup for one of the veteran big names in the quarters.
Dominic Thiem: +2500
The 23-year old Austrian has played a lot of tennis this season, but he has played it very, very well. He is 34-11 in 2017, with wins over Rafa Nadal on clay, a straight-set win against Djokovic at the French Open and a win over Andy Murray two months ago in Barcelona. SO who CAN’T this guy beat?? Maybe Federer? But you can bet Thiem would envy the opportunity a bit more than Fed…
There are some other names on the wagering board; Tsonga, Nishikori, Krygios, but I’ll pass on all of them. The three young guns all have a ton of value, but perhaps it is sentimentality or foolishness, but this tournament still feels like Roger’s to win. The draw comes out in nine days, so be sure to check back in a few weeks for a complete Wimbledon breakdown, matchups and all.
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