Federer Seeks to Regain Crown as King of Wimbledon

By Lew Ford  () 

Once again, the Big Three of men’s tennis — Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic — will dominate the spotlight in a major.

Tennis goes from the red clay of Rolland Garros, which was owned by Nadal, to the green grass of Wimbledon, where Federer can lay the same claim. Federer has won a record eight Wimbledon titles, has reached the final 11 times and has lost only once before the quarterfinals since 2003.

Nadal now has 18 majors (two Wimbledons), Federer has 20 and defending champ Novak Djokovic has 15 (four Wimbledons). Djokovic, on a 26-match winning streak at majors before losing in the semifinals in Paris, is the 3/2 betting favorite at the Westgate SuperBook, followed by Federer (3/1) and Nadal (5/1). There is historic significance as each major passes as each of the three men could make a statement as the greatest male player of all time. There never has been an era when three players have won so many majors. Everyone should appreciate what we are seeing from these great champions, because it will likely never happen again.

It looks like another battle of the Big Three versus the field. There is not much value in the futures outside of the Big Three to win outright. Look at some players who can win a quarter of the draw that doesn’t feature one of the three stars.

The first serve is the ultimate shot on the grass surface and there are some big-serving youngsters who could reach the semis. American players capable of winning early-round matchups are John Isner, Reilly Opelka and Sam Querrey.

Contenders

Felix Auger-Aliasime (20/1)

The teenager from Canada is a rising star and has an impressive all-around game. He has had success on grass this year and will be a dangerous opponent in his quarter of the draw.

Matteo Berrettini (40/1)

The Italian has been a big surprise by winning his first grass title this season. He’s playing with a lot of confidence and looks to continue his winning ways with his first deep run in a major.

Long Shots

Daniil Medvedev (50/1), Karen Khachanov (50/1) and Borna Coric (100/1) are all players under the age of 23 and ranked in the top 15. They are part of that “next generation” of players who have the talent and experience, but none has made it to a major semifinal. If the draw falls right, one of these guys should have an opportunity to prove the time is now.

WOMEN’S FORECAST

Ashleigh Barty is having an incredible year and is the 4/1 betting favorite heading into Wimbledon. The 23-year-old Australian has won the French Open and two other titles and is now the No. 1 player in the world. It will be interesting if she develops rivalries with any of the other top players. The WTA pool of talented players is so deep that the top players rarely face each other because they can’t consistently get through the draw. It shows the depth and how difficult it is to win on a consistent basis and makes for another wide-open tournament.

Identifying the players who have a big first serve and can get that serve in on a consistent basis is a big key to finding the eventual champion. Grass is a unique surface and points are typically shorter, allowing some of the older players a great chance to win. Defending champ Angelique Kerber (14/1) and past champions Petra Kvitova (12/1), Maria Sharapova (50/1) and Serena (6/1) and Venus Williams (50/1) will be in the mix.

Wimbledon has trended toward veteran champions over the past few years as only two players under age 24 have won. Serena (seven titles) and Venus (five) have dominated Wimbledon since 2000, with one of them either winning or in the finals 16 times. Watch for American players Sofia Kenin, Jennifer Brady and Allison Riske to win early-round matchups.

Contenders

Karolina Pliskova (16/1)

Pliskova is arguably the most talented and experienced player on tour without a major. She has the big serve and all the physical tools to win, but is she mentally tough enough to win the big one?

Kiki Bertens (30/1)

It’s surprising to see the odds this high for a player so talented and she is the best value on the board. Bertens was the second favorite at the French Open and had to withdraw in the first round due to illness. Her record in majors isn’t great, but she has the game to win on grass.

Long shots

Madison Keys (20/1)

Keys had a good showing in Paris and she was knocked out by Barty in a competitive match on her worst surface. She should be strong on grass with her big serve and ground strokes.

Amanda Anisimova (30/1)

The teenager showed she was ready for the big stage by reaching the French Open semifinal and losing to the eventual champ. She has the potential to be a superstar on and off the court and will have to deal with being a favorite, not the underdog.

Donna Vekic (50/1)

Vekic is coming off a final on grass and has been very consistent this season. She has the experience and physical tools to break through in a major.

Julia Goerges (60/1)

Goerges is a veteran player who reached the Wimbledon semis last year. She has the big serve and ground strokes necessary to win on grass and will be a dangerous player in her quarter of the draw.

Follow @sweetlew23 on Twitter for daily best bets on Wimbledon.

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