Wimbledon 2013: Best Bets to Win the Men's Championship
The media talk of the town regarding the upcoming Wimbledon Championships focuses intently on the men's top seeds as they head to London.
Each player presents compelling reasons to sway the tide of favoritism his way. But "sure things" do not exist in the sports world. That is why, as the saying goes, we play the games. Upsets are part of the sport.
The professionals lean heavily toward the top seeds going in. But remember, any bit of news can tip the scale as Wimbledon gets closer—now a few hours away.
Here’s how the following players currently stack up according to noted oddsmakers, compiled at the Wimbledon Betting Directory site.
Tommy Haas (99-1)
Grass Court History: Tommy Haas has advanced as far as the semifinals at Wimbledon, reaching the final four once in 2009. Most of his tournaments at the All England Club, however, have ended in the early rounds. His Wimbledon record stands at 20 wins against 13 losses for a winning percentage of 60.6. He’s played in 13 Wimbledon Championships, starting in 1997.
His overall grass-court record to date is 50 match wins against 25 losses for a winning percentage of 66.7.
Probability: Haas is enjoying a resurgence in his game at age 35. The current world No. 11 was ranked as high as world No. 2, achieving that ranking in 2002. Injuries have kept the German sidelined for a great part of his career. Haas is now fully healthy and playing some of the best tennis of his career. Regarded with only a 99-1 chance of winning Wimbledon, Haas remains one player no one wishes to see in his section of the draw. The German goes full out from the first ball struck to the last.
Areas of Concern: While Haas has the weapons to play on grass, he may no longer have the endurance to play for two weeks with possible five-set matches back-to-back. Still a favorite on tour, winning a major may no longer be a possibility for Haas.
Marin Cilic (98-1)
Grass Court History: So far in his career, Marin Cilic has advanced twice to the round of 16 at Wimbledon— in 2008 and again in 2012. He holds an 8-6 record at the All England Club, giving him a winning percentage of 57.1. In all, Cilic has played the tournament six times, the first in 2007.
He did win one grass-court title, victorious at the Queen’s Club in 2012. His overall record on grass stands at 29 wins against 15 losses, which results a 65.9 winning percentage.
Probability: Cilic’s odds are just slightly better than 100-1, as everyone waits for the main Wimbledon draw to be announced. Not many give the talented Croat much of a chance to win this major tournament. He did reach the finals at Queen’s Club in 2013, losing to Andy Murray in the championship match. The tall, lanky Cilic has real potential on grass, but generally fails to sustain his drive deep into draws of Masters and Grand Slam events. At age 24 and injury-free, Cilic has an opportunity to make significant inroads at Wimbledon this year. He definitely should do better than his previous best—the round of 16.
Areas of Concern: Cilic is a clean ball-striker with an outstanding back-hand. When his serve is on, he is difficult to counter. But he has a history of losing matches against players ranked above him. While he has potential to advance to the second week at Wimbledon, most would not favor the Croat making it all the way to the final.
David Ferrer (82-1)
Grass Court History: David Ferrer has never won the Wimbledon title in 10 tries. His furthest advancement was the quarterfinals, which he reached for the first time last year, losing to eventual finalist Andy Murray. At Wimbledon, Ferrer has won 20 matches while losing 10 for a winning percentage of 66.7. His first try at the Brit’s elusive brass ring came in 2003.
Ferrer has won two grass court titles, both coming at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Topshelf Open which he won in 2008 and 2012. Overall, Ferrer has won 34 matches on grass, losing 14, which gives him a winning percentage of 70.8.
Probability: Not regarded as a likely winner at Wimbledon, Ferrer’s average rests at 82-1. While not spectacular odds, the Spaniard's are better than most in the field. He remains one of the hottest players on tour in 2013, winning two titles plus reaching four more finals—including his first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros. What Ferrer has in abundance is confidence. The Spaniard, with less talent than the big guns in the game, never beats himself. It takes a player with superior talent who plays his best to beat Ferrer. That is why he is currently ranked world No. 4 and why he should never be taken lightly at any event held on a tennis court, regardless of the surface.
Areas of Concern: Ferrer returned to the Topshelf Open in the Netherlands this year for his grass court tune-up. He came back this year, seeking his third title there—but was unfortunately upset in the opening round by Xavier Malisse, 7-6, 6-3. The one surface which continues to plague Ferrer is grass. Even though he made his furthest inroad at the All England Club in 2012, reaching the quarterfinals, that is not enough to inspire most to select the feisty Spaniard to win it all.
Milos Raonic (81-1)
Grass Court History: The big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic has not won the Wimbledon tournament yet. In fact, he’s won no Grand Slam event so far in his career. Raonic participated twice at Wimbledon, but lost both times in the second round. At 2-2, the Canadian sits at a winning percentage of 50.0.
To date, all of Raonic’s titles have come on hard courts—none so far on grass.
Overall on the green lawns, the Canadian stands at 8-7, giving him a winning percentage of 53.3.
Probability: Raonic certainly has the game for grass but needs to work on his net skills and his lateral movement to improve his grass-court odds in the future. Raonic is one player on most tennis pundit’s “watch” list. With his huge first serve and aggressive game style, Raonic has mastered two important ingredients to win on grass. At age 22, the time has arrived for the big Canadian to step into the shoes many have seen him wear on court for short stretches. Working with new coach Ivan Ljubicic, Wimbledon may be the tournament where Raonic debuts new confidence and a fresh attack on grass.
Areas of Concern: Raonic’s inability to move and react quickly keep him dependent on his perch at the baseline. He must develop some net skills to complement the rest of game. His movement on court is primarily responsible for his previous lack of success on grass where the footing is often difficult. Once signs of improvement are visible, the Raonic stock will rise even higher.
Grigor Dimitrov (65-1)
Grass Court History: Grigor Dimitrov has played the Wimbledon Championships three times so far. The furthest he’s advanced is the second round. His record, therefore, is 2-3, leaving him with a winning percentage to date of 40.0. There is much left for the Bulgarian to accomplish on the pristine lawns of the All England Club.
Overall on grass, Dimitrov has won 13 matches while losing 12, giving him a winning percentage of 52.0.
Probability: Dimitrov has promise and that is what oddsmakers are betting on—the future, wondering just when this young player will rise up and establish himself at the top of the game. Currently sitting at 65-1 on average, the Bulgarian proved his ability to play on grass when he won the boy’s singles title in 2008. Since then, Dimitrov has been learning what it takes on tour to duplicate those kinds of results. He’s had some outstanding results in 2013. Many believe Dimitrov is primed, ready to move up. That means a major victory should come soon—maybe this year at Wimbledon.
Areas of Concern: Of course, Dimitrov has yet to prove himself on the biggest stages of the men’s game. That is a hindrance to oddsmakers, even though they suspect he will break through soon. It is unlikely that Dimitrov can currently perform at the level of the top seeds during a two-week, five-set format. But his time will come. Right now he remains a dark horse at the All England Club as the tournament gets underway on Monday.
Tomas Berdych (41-1)
Grass Court History: Tomas Berdych has never won the Wimbledon Championship, although he came close in 2010, losing to Rafael Nadal after a brilliant run-up to the final.
Winning 23 matches while losing nine, Berdych owns a 71.9 winning percentage on the Wimbledon lawns. He has participated in nine Wimbledon Championships, the first in 2004.
Berdych does own a grass court title, however, winning at Halle in 2007. His overall record on grass is 40 wins over 18 losses for a total winning percentage on grass of 69.0.
Probability: So far Berdych lists at 41-1 on average to win the Wimbledon Championship. With his big serve and his deep, accurate groundstrokes, the Czech has the ability to win it all. Grass suits him. He reached the final once in 2010. After defeating both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, however, Berdych ran out of gas when he had to do the same in the final with Nadal. It is a challenge facing anyone who dreams of winning a major championship, let alone getting past two, even three of the top seeds in order to win it all.
Areas of Concern: Berdych has proven he can play on grass and do so with great success. But he has never won the “Big One” even when he had the opportunity. Also, Berdych went out in the first round of this year's French Open to Gael Monfils and recently lost to Marin Cilic at Queen’s Club during their quarterfinal contest. With immense talent, Berdych often fails to deliver—taking that last step necessary to win. The culprits seem to be nerves and self-doubt.
Juan Martin Del Potro (33-1)
Grass Court History: Juan Martin del Potro has never captured a Wimbledon title, although he does own one Grand Slam trophy—the 2009 U.S. Open. Additionally, the tall Argentine has never won a title on grass. To date, Del Potro’s Wimbledon campaigns brought him nine victories while losing five times, giving him a winning percentage of 64.29.
He has appeared at the Wimbledon tournament five times, the first in 2007 when he exited in the second round. The furthest del Potro has advanced at the All England Club so far in his career is the fourth round.
Overall, his winning percentage on grass is 68.6 with 24 victories and 11 losses.
Probability: The Argentine sits at approximately 33-1 as Wimbledon looms. With his big booming serve and his powerful groundstrokes, he has the potential to do some real damage in his section of the draw. Del Potro has won a major—the only current player outside the traditional top four to do so since Marat Safin won the Australian Open in 2005. The Argentine has done what many others on tour could not—defeating the two top seeds back to back. That definitely adds to his appeal.
Areas of Concern: The fact that del Potro withdrew from the French Open this year, plagued by a long-lasting virus, puts a damper on the enthusiasm of those picking him as the potential winner of Wimbledon in 2013. Further, being upset by Lleyton Hewitt at the Queen’s Club during the quarterfinals lays down another layer of doubt. Add in del Potro’s lack of success at the All England Club and you are left with a huge amount of reserve concerning the Argentine’s ability to capture a title on grass, let alone the Grand Slam event at Wimbledon.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (17-1)
Grass Court History: The world No. 7, Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has never won a Wimbledon title—nor, for that matter, any title on grass. He did reach the finals at the Queen’s Club in 2011, but never at the All England Club. He has, however, advanced to the semifinals during the past two tournaments, losing to Andy Murray in 2012 and Novak Djokovic in 2011.
Tsonga has won 19 matches at Wimbledon, losing five for a winning percentage of 79.17. He’s made five appearances during the Wimbledon fortnight, the first in 2007.
Overall, his winning percentage on grass is 73.3—33 wins alongside 12 losses.
Probability: Averaging almost 17-1, Tsonga has the best odds to win outside the traditional top four—although Nadal will formally enter the draw as the No. 5 seed. Tsonga reached the semifinals of this tournament the past two years. Prior to that, the Frenchman reached the quarterfinals in 2010, losing to Andy Murray. This is his favorite Grand Slam event and the one best suited to his high energy game. With his great serve and his quick foot speed, the green lawns of the All England Club seem his best bet to break through and win a major. Tsonga reached a grand slam final once before at the 2008 Australian Open. Some believe he is ripe to do so again at Wimbledon.
Areas of Concern: While the charismatic Frenchman can reach the final rounds of majors, he has yet to close it out. He had a perfect opportunity at this year’s French Open to defeat David Ferrer in their semifinal match in Paris. Yet Tsonga seemed flat and listless during the match, even with the French fans waiting to roar their approval. Like Andy Murray, the only thing holding Tsonga back from winning the title at Wimbledon is Tsonga. Unlike Murray, however, the monkey is still on Tsonga’s back to win a big one.
Roger Federer (5-1)
Grass Court History: Roger Federer has won seven Wimbledon championships, the first in 2003. He won five consecutive titles from 2003-2007—then won the title again in 2009 against Andy Roddick and again in 2012, defeating Andy Murray. He also reached the final in 2008, losing to Rafael Nadal, who stopped Federer from surpassing Bjorn Borg’s record of five consecutive titles. A record six wins in a row would have given the modern record to Federer.
He has won 66 matches at Wimbledon, losing only seven, for a phenomenal winning percentage of 90.41. He first participated in 1999 and has appeared in 14 consecutive Wimbledon tournaments.
Throughout his career, Federer has won 121 grass court matches, losing 17, for an overall winning percentage on grass of 87.7. He owns 13 grass court titles, including seven Wimbledon Championships and six from Halle at the Gerry Weber Open.
Probability: Federer currently sits at a little over 5-1 odds of winning it all again in 2013. The owner of seven titles at this event, chances are that Federer knows how to win on grass and is, no doubt, the greatest player on grass in the history of the game. Wimbledon is by far his favorite of the Grand Slam events—where he won his first major title in 2003. Sitting with 17 Grand Slam wins, Federer will be reaching for No. 18 at this year’s tournament, inspired by his recent win at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle. Federer remains one of the favorites.
Areas of Concern: After winning six titles in 2012, Federer just managed to win his first title of the season last week in Halle. His back was a major problem for him most of the clay court season, bothering him since early in the year. Has he returned to full health? His prowess at the Gerry Weber Open seemed to indicate he has. Although Federer can still produce magic on the court, there are matches when his game seems to desert him, leaving him indecisive and a step slow. This inconsistency has crept into his game in 2013—perhaps the product of a lingering injury or something else. It is of concern for Federer’s fans and his entourage. Regardless, Federer will be ready to compete full out, as always.
Rafael Nadal (3-1)
Grass Court History: Rafael Nadal has won the Wimbledon Championships twice. The first time was in 2008 during an historic match against defending champion, Roger Federer. He took the title again in 2010, this time battling Tomas Berdych on Centre Court. Nadal also reached the men’s final in 2006, 2007 and 2011.
At Wimbledon, Nadal has won 36 matches, losing six, for an 85.71 winning percentage.
In addition to his two Wimbledon titles, he won the Queen’s Club title in 2008. In total, Nadal has won 50 grass court matches, losing 12, for a winning percentage of 80.6.
Probability: Currently Nadal is sitting at 3-1 odds to win the title for the third time. His recent return to form has been impressive after an extensive lay off starting after last year’s Wimbledon tournament when Nadal made an early exit—during the second round at the hands of Lukas Rosol. After capturing his eighth French Open crown, Nadal seems to be a man reborn and ready to do battle with the very best in the game.
Areas of Concern: Although Nadal has shot back up the rankings and re-established himself as a man to beat, during the past three seasons, almost all of Nadal’s titles have come on clay. The exception was Indian Wells on hard courts in 2013. Prior to that you must go back to 2010 when Nadal was winning on all surfaces. After exiting Wimbledon early in 2012, Nadal, it seems, is often vulnerable in the early rounds. He even appeared so in Paris before finding his dominance in the second week. The question remains—will he be able to keep himself confident and ready for the fast-paced and low bounces of grass court tennis?
Andy Murray (3-1)
Grass Court History: Andy Murray has never won a Wimbledon title, although he did win Olympic gold in 2012 on the same historic Centre Court, defeating Roger Federer in the final. Brits consider that almost as good as owning the official title. Murray did reach the final at the All England Club in 2012, losing to Roger Federer for the official title. It was the furthest he’d ever advanced in seven tries.
Murray has won 30 matches at Wimbledon, losing seven, sporting a winning percentage of 81.08. He participated for the first time in 2005 at the All England Club.
Throughout his career, Murray has won 66 grass court matches, losing 14, for a total winning percentage of 82.5. He has won four grass court titles—the Queen’s Club three times plus the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Probability: Averaging a little better than 3-1 odds to win it all, Andy Murray comes in second. No male tennis player has excited the Brits as much as Murray since Fred Perry roamed the storied green lawns in the 1930s. Last year the Scot won a title on grass here on Centre Court defeating the greatest grass court player of all time—Roger Federer. Of course, it was not Wimbledon. It was the 2012 Summer Olympics—but it gave Brits everywhere great hope. He followed that victory by defeating Novak Djokovic for the U.S. Open title at Flushing Meadows. It was an excellent year for Murray. This year—after reaching the Wimbledon finals in 2012, plus winning the Queen’s Cup this past week—many feel Murray can win it all this year on Centre Court.
Areas of Concern: Murray skipped the French Open in 2013 with a back injury. He had to retire during his first round match in Rome. That had many wondering about his ability to bounce back from that injury. But Murray won the Queens Club Tournament, so perhaps that will quell any anxieties the Scot generated going in. The only thing stopping Murray in his quest to win this tournament is Murray. Will his nerve and self-belief allow him to take that final step? Many think so if he is fully fit and ready to win.
Novak Djokovic (2-1)
Grass Court History: Novak Djokovic won the Wimbledon title in 2011, defeating Rafael Nadal in the final. He has won 47 matches on grass while losing 14 for a winning percentage of 77.0. The Wimbledon Championship in 2011 remains his only grass court title. The majority of the Serb’s successes have come on hard courts, which is understandable since most events are played on synthetic surfaces. Djokovic has won 32 matches at Wimbledon, losing seven, for an overall winning percentage there of 82.05. His first tournament at the All England Club occurred in 2005. He has played the event eight times.
Probability: According to oddsmakers, Djokovic has greater than a 2-1 shot of winning the whole thing. Those are mighty impressive odds based on the fact that Djokovic won the Australian Open and advanced to the semifinals of the French where he lost a five-set match against the eventual champion, Rafael Nadal. He is the current No. 1 ranked player in the world and shows no lingering hangovers from his earlier ankle injury. He has won this title and is a player to be feared on all courts. Although not enjoying the kind of season he had in 2011, Djokovic, at this point, is the player to beat.
Areas of Concern: Djokovic was aiming for a 2-0 start to the season in Grand Slam finals when he arrived at the French. A win in Paris would have given him a career Grand Slam, the French Open being his only missing jewel. But he had to face Nadal in the semifinals because the defending champion, after being out with injury for months, was the No. 5 seed. Nadal, unfortunately, fell in Djokovic’s half of the draw. After losing that five set epic match, most wonder if the Serb can bounce back or if the loss will affect him mentally and physically at Wimbledon. Certainly, the Serb will give it all he's got on court, trying to capture three Grand Slam titles in one year, just as he did in 2011.