The Wimbledon draw took place on Friday so Dan Weston returns to give his thoughts on the draw and the best betting value in the outright market...
"Indeed, purely looking at grass court serve/return points won across the last 18 months, Cilic is the tour leader on the surface, and an early rounds draw against the likes of Yoshihito Nishioka, Guido Pella and Filip Krajinovic is unlikely to strike fear into his heart. "
Federer firms in outright market following generous draw
Earlier on in the week we discussed a wide range of contenders for the men's title, as well as the anticipated quick conditions and how these will suit big-serving players.
The player who is noted for enjoying quick conditions as much as any other - Roger Federer - has firmed up in the tournament winner market, moving from [3.20] to [2.95], at the time of writing.
This was following a draw that can certainly be described as generous, with a fourth round projected opponent likely to be Adrian Mannarino or Borna Coric, and it looks like he'd face either Sam Querrey, Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet, Gilles Muller or Kevin Anderson for a place in the semi-finals - Federer would certainly have taken that in advance.
Opposing vulnerable Federer makes sense
I mentioned in my column several days ago that I feel Federer is vulnerable at the top of the market, particularly given his waning powers on return, but laying him for the event with this draw likely to cause him the minimum of fuss doesn't seem to make a lot of sense at this stage - I have a plan to try and oppose him for individual matches, however, and I'll be keeping an eye on opportunities to do so when posting my daily previews.
The market has also found Novak Djokovic's draw a little positive, shortening the Serb into [7.4] from [7.8], while Rafa Nadal is into [8.8] from [9.4]. Nadal is certainly a player I'll also be keen to take on at some stage on grass, with his grass data not nearly at the level of Federer, Djokovic and even Marin Cilic.
Cilic the tour leader on grass over the last 18 months
That neatly leads us onto the Croat, Cilic, who comes into the tournament full of confidence following his defeat of Djokovic a week ago in the final at Queens Club. Indeed, purely looking at grass court serve/return points won across the last 18 months, Cilic is the tour leader on the surface, and an early rounds draw against the likes of Yoshihito Nishioka, Guido Pella and Filip Krajinovic is unlikely to strike fear into his heart.
Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov lie in wait for the later stages before a potential semi-final against Federer, but these are the type of players who must be beaten in order to win a Grand Slam, and my preferred way of opposing Federer in particular, in the top half of the draw, and to some extent Nadal eventually, is to recommend taking Cilic at the current [8.8] or at 15/2 each-way with the Sportsbook.
Nadal also benefiting from a kind draw
The King of Clay, Nadal, finds himself in the bottom half of the draw and could possibly find the grass-loving Mischa Zverev a banana-skin in round three, but he does have a very nice draw, with a clay-courter - Diego Schwartzman or Fabio Fognini in all likelihood - likely to be his round four opposition. A quarter final against either Juan Martin Del Potro or Andy Murray - if the Scotsman is fit - would be a very interesting prospect indeed.
Bigger priced contenders with much to prove against elite
Looking at some of the bigger-priced market chances, I don't mind Kevin Anderson as another way of taking on Federer in quarter one, with the big-serving South African very capable on grass yet priced at [75.0], but my worry is a very poor record against top 10 opposition in general and also on the surface (1-7).
This is also the concern for the Brit, Kyle Edmund, in his home Grand Slam. The Yorkshireman is priced at [130.0] on the Exchange currently, but a woeful 2-17 record across all surfaces against top 10 opponents makes it difficult to envisage a deep run into the tournament. Novak Djokovic awaits in round three.
Zverev's outright chances can be revisited
Alexander Zverev is another one worth a conversation about, but the young German didn't receive the kindest draw, with a very tough fourth round in prospect against either Nick Kyrgios, Bernard Tomic or Kei Nishikori, before a likely quarter-final against Djokovic. However, if Kyrgios in particular is eliminated early, then I might revisit Zverev's outright prospects in one of the daily previews.
I'll be returning with a daily preview for both the men's and women's action over the next two weeks, and I'm immensely looking forward to the start of Wimbledon 2018.
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