Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams are the red hot favourites to take out the singles titles at the 2015 Wimbledon Championships, which will kick off in London on Monday, June 29.
Djokovic ($2.25 at Bovada.lv) has not played a competitive match since last month’s French Open final, where he lost out to Stanislas Wawrinka ($15) in four sets.
Wawrinka isn’t the only Swiss star among the favourites, with seven-time champion Roger Federer shortening to $7 in the Wimbledon futures betting after his win at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany last week.
But it is local hero Andy Murray ($3.75), fresh of a fourth career title at the Queen’s Club Championships, who looms as Djokovic’s strongest challenger.
Murray defeated the current world number one in the 2013 Wimbledon final, but has lost each of their last eight meetings, including the recent semi-final clash at Roland Garros.
However, Boris Becker – who has coached Djokovic since the start of 2014 – warned earlier this week that the Scot’s excellent record on grass should not be underestimated.
“He’s in great form, he’s four times Queen’s Open champion now, one of the favourites to win Wimbledon, but I’m in Novak’s corner so I have to support,” Becker said at a media event on Monday.
On Djokovic’s chances of retaining his crown, the three-time Wimbledon champ added: “We had a spectacular run last year, but it all starts from scratch again.
“First round will be first round for everybody, so it will be another very tough tournament.”
One player who could use that kind of support is Nick Kyrgios ($41), who is without a head coach after severing ties with Todd Larkham in the wake of a poor showing at the Queen’s Club.
But the fiery young Australian has plenty of not-so-secret admirers in the tennis world, and his stunning victory over Rafael Nadal in last year’s tournament remains fresh in the memory of one John McEnroe.
“He is close to being ready to make a big breakthrough if I had to pick one guy,” McEnroe, winner of three Wimbledon Men’s Singles titles, said in the UK press.
“I wouldn’t pick him to win. But I would think, if there was someone other than the obvious guys, he would be the guy that I would pick – more so than a year ago, when I would have said a Dimitrov-Djokovic final.”
Kyrgios, who withdrew from the warm-up event in Nottingham this week through illness, is one of several high-profile players looking to shake off fitness concerns over the next few days.
2014 US Open finalist Kei Nishikori ($26) is managing a calf problem, while French duo Jo-Wilfried Tsonga ($34) and Gael Monfils ($151) are also battling injury ahead of next Monday’s start.
But the biggest concern is in the women’s draw, with reigning Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova ($4.50 at www.Crownbet.com.au) in doubt after pulling out of the Aegon International in Eastbourne.
“I have a sore throat. I have to stay in bed, drink tea and rest,” the Czech star told the press.
“I didn’t feel well when I came here last Thursday, I had to make this decision [to withdraw].
“I hope to be fine for Wimbledon. I’ll stay here in Eastbourne and then slowly move to London.”
Kvitova’s health concerns would be music to the ears of Williams ($2.75), who is well on the way to a Grand Slam sweep after winning both the Australian Open and the French Open earlier this year.
It would also boost the chances of would-be challengers such as Maria Sharapova ($8), Victoria Azarenka ($10) and Simona Halep ($13), whose prices would surely drop if Kvitova withdrew.
That might not be the case for Samantha Stosur, who is now paying $101 after going down in straight sets to Tsvetana Pironkova in her opening clash at Eastbourne.
But despite an unflattering record at the All England Club, the former US Open champion seemed optimistic about her chances when talking to the media this week.
“You’ve obviously got to put it together in that first round, but I’m still confident I can play well and get some wins,” Stosur said.
“Who knows if that’s going to happen, but I’m at least confident that I can do that.”
Hopes of a classic British underdog story were piqued this week when 16-year-old wildcard Katie Swan secured a shock qualifying win against Kristina Kucova, ranked 118 in the world. Fellow Brits Katy Dunne and Tara Moore also progressed to the second round.
There were more good signs from local ladies Heather Watson ($201) and Johanna Konta at the Aegon, with the latter defeating world number eight Ekaterina Makarova ($51) to reach the third round.
2015 Wimbledon outright betting odds
$2.25 – Novak Djokovic
$3.75 – Andy Murray
$7 – Roger Federer
$11 – Rafael Nadal
$15 – Stan Wawrinka
$21 – Grigor Dimitrov
$26 – Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic
$29 – Tomas Berdych
$34 – Marin Cilic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
$41 – Nick Kyrgios
$51 – Juan Martin Del Potro
$101 – Bernard Tomic, Ernests Gulbis, Ivo Karlovic, Jerzy Janowicz, John Isner
$126 – Alexandr Dolgopolov, David Ferrer, Jack Sock
$151 – Feliciano Lopez, Gael Monfils
$201 – Fabio Fognini, Fernando Verdasco, Kevin Anderson, Nicolas Almagro, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Richard Gasquet
$251 – Mikhail Youzhny
$2.75 – Serena Williams
$4.50 – Petra Kvitova
$8 – Maria Sharapova
$10 – Victoria Azarenka
$13 – Simona Halep
$21 – Lucie Safarova, Madison Keys, Sabine Lisicki
$29 – Caroline Wozniacki
$34 – Agnieszka Radwanska, Eugenie Bouchard, Karolina Pliskova, Sloane Stephens, Venus Williams
$41 – Angelique Kerber, Gabrine Muguruza
$51 – Ana Ivanovic, Ekaterina Makarova
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