The draw has been made for the 2012 Men’s Singles Championships on the grass of Wimbledon’s All England Club. With another great fortnight in store, I take a look at the value of the contenders for this year's title.
The defending champion has definitely struggled to repeat his amazing 2011 form this year, but that’s not to say that he can’t find it this fortnight. His draw doesn’t look the toughest, but he could face a challenge from Tomas Berdych, who beat him here in 2010, at the quarter final stage. If he gets through that, he’ll most likely meet Roger Federer, over whom he has had the edge lately, so another final looks a distinct possibility. The 2.90 is too skinny for me though.
Rafa’s early loss to Philipp Kohlschreiber in his warm-up in Halle came as no surprise given his exertions once again at Roland Garros. Expect him to be firing on all cylinders when he hits the lawns of SW19. Many overlook the fact that he’s made the final on his last five visits to Wimbledon, but he does have a tricky draw. He should face Kohlschreiber or Tommy Haas, while Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Bernard Tomic also lurk in his quarter. At 3.25 you won’t get rich backing the Spaniard, but don’t be surprised if he takes the trophy home again.
A very handy draw featuring run-of-the-mill opponents means that Federer is a live contender once again this fortnight. I’d be very surprised if he didn’t make the semi-finals at least, but I get the impression that his intensity has dropped just a fraction, which might mean he falls short against Djokovic or a Nadal. A loss to Tommy Haas on grass in Halle was his warm-up for Wimbledon, but expect a strong showing again. He’ll always be worth a bet at odds of around 5.00.
At first glance, it would appear that the Scot faces a tough task reaching his first Wimbledon final. An opener against grass-hating veteran Nikolay Davydenko, however, and a likely second round against fading force Ivo Karlovic should be straightforward. In fact, Murray will probably enjoy the challenge of facing the big men like Karlovic, Cilic, Del Potro and Raonic, as it gives him a chance to show them up with his return game.
Current form is a concern, though, and I still don’t think he’s 100 per cent fit. For me, the story remains the same with Murray: he’s good, but not good enough against the very best in the world. His link-up with Ivan Lendl is yet to have any impact on his game whatsoever, other than the initial short-term boost that is now long gone. If you fancy backing Murray this fortnight but you don’t like the draw, Unibet are offering a money-back special if he fails to reach at least the semi-finals. Check out the offer here.
The big Canadian has the tools to be a big hit on the grass, but I don’t think his return game is good enough to really trouble the top players over five sets at the very top level. He’s yet to get past the quarter-final stage of any grass court event, and this won’t be his year.
The talented Aussie continues to frustrate with his lackadaisical on-court demeanour, which was in evidence again in Eastbourne when he lost to Fabio Fognini. A quarter-finalist last year, he’ll do well to repeat that and a potential clash with Tsonga could be interesting.
In the same quarter as Tomic and, for me, the biggest threat to Nadal if he’s recovered from the injured finger sustained at Queen’s last week. The win over Federer here last year will give him belief and if he can bring his ‘A’ game to the lawns for the whole fortnight he’s got a shot. Tsonga can be backed at around 35.00.
A similar price to Tsonga reflects the fact that the Czech has all the weapons to go very deep again this fortnight. Having beaten Federer (and Djokovic) here and reached the final two years ago, the Berdman will probably have to beat both again this year. That may be just beyond him, but he’s unplayable on his day and worth an outside wager at a big price.
Best of the rest
Of the other competitors, Juan Martin Del Potro has plenty to do on grass, a surface on which he still doesn’t trust his movement. Tommy Haas could go deep, but I doubt his body will last over five sets for two weeks. John Isner is in a real slump at the moment and, other than a bloodless win in Newport, has done nothing on grass so far in his career. David Ferrer has never been past the last 16. Marin Cilic is interesting at 250.00 after winning Queen’s, though.
I think we’d all like to see someone other than Djokovic and Nadal feature in a Slam final. Could this be the tournament? Tsonga and Berdych are the best outsiders by some distance and they are worth backing at big prices as an alternative to the short-priced favourites this fortnight.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga each way at 35.0
Tomas Berdych each way at 35.0