The futures betting board for the 2018 All England Lawn & Tennis Club’s annual Grand Slam tells a story almost by itself. Or actually, it tells 3 stories.
The first is that a popular pick at (+500) hasn’t competed on grass courts since 2016.
Form on different court surfaces is considered so important to Grand Slam competition that reporters flock to diddy-bump grass-surface tournaments to observe the pros before Wimbledon. But apparently, such analysis is not, like, a totally big deal this time around.
This popular pick whom I speak of is currently ranked #183 in the world and is seeded 25th in the London ladies’ singles bracket. Yep, you guessed it – it’s Serena Williams.
It helps that the last time Williams played at Wimbledon 2 years ago, she won. Not to mention that she owns 7 titles at All England Club.
But wait – there’s movement on the board. 28-year-old lefty Petra Kvitova has passed Mika for shortest odds-to-win with a (+450) futures line. Kvitova’s record at Wimbledon is nothing to sniff at. The Czech veteran has won twice there, and her current form couldn’t be hotter.
Finally, does it seem like tennis gets the short end of the racket in the media these days? Maybe the sport needs a little Madison “Avenue.” Madison Keys, that is, a 23-year-old sensation who is at 14-to-1 odds despite never having advanced beyond the quarterfinals.
Serena Williams and Madison Keys share a quarter of the draw and may meet in the 4th round. But that’s not the only intriguing potential match on the way to the final. Let’s take a closer look at a handful of the favorites likely to decide Wimbledon in 2018.
Petra Kvitova (+450 Odds-to-Win at Sportsbetting.ag)
Serena Williams has had to deal with domesticity, motherhood, and various controversies on and off the court. But she’s never spent a year recovering from a knife fight.
Petra Kvitova won her 2nd Wimbledon title in 2014 and looked to become a dominant Serena-type player at age 24. But she fell ill with severe mononucleosis in 2015, and was attacked by an armed robber with a knife at the end of 2016.
Last season was one of slow recovery and limited action for Kvitova. But since late winter ’18, she’s been playing as well as anyone in the world. Kvitova’s grass court season is going splendidly, and she is coming off a victory in the finals at Birmingham against Magdaléna Rybáriková.
In the reality-check category a minor hamstring injury prompted her to cautiously withdraw from the next tournament and wait patiently for Wimbledon.
The lefty has all the tools to be a dominant force on grass. She consistently delivers a powerful and precise serve. Her forehand and backhand allow her to hit heavy shots down the line to finish off an opponent. Petra hugs the baseline but her large frame allows for quick movement.
The baseline style is not orthodox in Wimbledon champions but it helps to conserve energy for occasional quick charges on crucial points. It’s just a matter of time before Kvitova rekindles her 2014 form, though for how long and under what circumstances is an open question.
Serena Williams (+500)
Mika’s draw is considered fortunate with 2 “gimme” matches granted at the start of the tournament. But the only good fortune Williams is experiencing is at the tennis club.
A fresh controversy has erupted over what the 7-time champ claims are overzealous anti-doping procedures by the US Anti-Doping Authority. After Serena complained on Twitter about the number of times she has been tested, Usada sent a man to her house at 8 AM who refused to leave until he extracted a blood sample from the tennis pro.
Oh, and there’s injury concerns for Williams too. She withdrew from the French Open while citing a “chest injury” that was never publicly expounded on.
But don’t worry, she’ll have plenty of ammunition for the fight. Her thunderous serve and precise groundstrokes allow her to control the pace of every game on grass courts, even on break attempts. WTA insider still ranks Serena #2 in their grass court power rankings.
Garbine Muguruza (+700)
Garbine Muguruza’s All England story is a perfect sports-drink commercial.
“She’s too tall to get around on the grass, they said.” (Cut to shot of Muguruza running quickly to hit the ball.) “She can’t bend down and reach those dead bounces, they said.” (Shot of Mugaruthless digging up a Wimbledon forehand-winner practically off the ground.) “She’ll never win here.” (Match point.) “It won’t happen.” (Holding the trophy and grinning.)
“Drink Change-Aid. It’s got copper, zinc, nickel, and sometimes silver and gold mixed in.”
The defending Wimbledon champion was thought to be a poor fit for grass courts until she won in 2017. But she didn’t just win. At just 23 years old, she lost only a single set in the entire tournament, almost matching the historic dominance of Roger Federer in men’s singles.
Muguruza’s win only received an obligatory amount of press coverage in the United States and greater Europe. It was the quietest Tiger-Woods-in-2000 type of performance you’ll ever (not) see.
It’s true that the tall, wirey Venezuelan’s style is not a classic fit for grass courts. It’s also true that she took all of the court surface-centric punditry and sliced it apart along with the field in ’17. But Muguruza’s more recent story is one of mixed results. She’s changed coaches, withdrawn from matches over a nagging back injury, and made only a single finals appearance in her last 5 tournaments.
Angelique Kerber (+1000)
Another example of a player for whom the Wimbledon ’18 bookends are there, but the plot has been dragging cover-to-cover.
Kerber’s game is naturally suited for grass surfaces. The lefty is a fierce counterpuncher who relishes the chance to turn defense into offense. She enjoys the fast pace of short grass-court rallies and is at home reaching and clawing for balls bouncing in dull fashion on the real turf.
She has struggled to put together consistent serves and has had serve broken in too many games. Though she is a defensive genius, she hasn’t displayed the kind of creative, incisive finishing volleys and cross-court winners that All England winners must possess.
Kerber has played well at several recent tournaments, including the Sydney International which she won. But a lifetime 24-11 record at All England doesn’t inspire confidence in a 10/1 wager.
Madison Keys (+1400)
Madison Keys played Serena Williams in a match in 2015. Afterward, Williams said it was an honor to play against someone who would be World #1 eventually.
Maybe a #1 ranking is in Madison’s future. But it’s not coming quickly. She still consists of a world – nay, a universe – of not-quite-realized potential.
The rising American star’s game is highlighted by an excellent serve and arguably the most powerful forehand in women’s tennis. She compliments her serve and forehand with a lightning quick groundstroke. Her tall frame and ample power are well suited to grass courts.
Keys has yet to play on grass in the 2018 season. Her form is rounding into shape, but would she have a chance to hold off a healthy Mika in the 4th match?
Handicapping the Ladies Singles Tournament at Wimbledon
Legit Gambling Sites blog readers know that one of my favorite tactics is to imagine making a bet as many times as you want and letting the event play out again and again. How many 2018 Wimbledons would each of the above competitors win if they got to start over 10 times?
Suppose we think a player at (+500) would win Wimbledon 2 times if given 10 cracks at it. Making 10 $100 bets in a row at 5/1 odds and winning 2 of them puts you right back at even. It’s not a value bet. But if a player at (+500) would likely win 3, or 4, or 5 times out of 10, then the wager is a smart one.
Serena is distracted and physically 85% or 90%. I can see her putting it all together and winning, but not without luck and drama. She’s not a safe futures pick at 5-to-1 payoff.
Kerber has lost almost 1/3rd of her matches at All England and the record includes many average tour players. I’m not buying her as at least a 2-in-10 winner at (+1000).
Muguruza (+700) is going through a revamping and healing process similar to what Novak Djokovic has endured. She wouldn’t be likely to win more than once in 7 tries.
She’s a sensation and a lot of fun to watch. More importantly, she’ll win Wimbledon someday, so the (+1400) line isn’t the worst market out there.
Those who can use process-of-elimination have already figured out my pick. But it’s still time for another headline right about now.
Wimbledon Ladies Singles: Winner Prediction
Petra Kvitova (+450) has the least downside as a pick to win Wimbledon. She may have a few nagging aches and pains, but compared to others in the field, her form and physical health are each excellent. She has won twice at All England and can be forgiven for not winning again through 3 tumultuous years.
Is it Kvitova’s time to put the past behind her while (ironically) playing like it’s 2014? I can’t actually tell you. That’s handicapping! It’s not the science of prediction, but the science of making “real” odds of things happening, or not, to compare with the bookie’s odds of them happening or not.
The Czech baseliner’s next Wimbledon crown may be happening, or not. But I assure you if she played the tournament 4 or 5 times, finals appearances would be numerous.
Kvitova’s life on and off-court is simpler than the lives of Serena Williams and Garbine Muguruza at this moment in time. That translates into a better chance to win. Take the odds-on favorite at (+450) and don’t strain a hamstring worrying about hers.