Wimbledon Men's Singles Pre-Draw: Federer still capable of contending

Swiss Tennis Player Roger Federer
Roger Federer is still an elite-level grass courter...

With the Wimbledon 2019 draw taking place tomorrow, anticipating is building for the coming fortnight and our tennis columnist Dan Weston gives his thoughts on who to watch out for...

"There is little doubt that grass is Federer's best surface, and given that he's available at a reasonably bigger price than Djokovic, a kind draw could mean Federer may represent slight value at prices."

Nadal seeding causing controversy

In around 24 hours time, we will know the Wimbledon draw for every player, and who they need to defeat in order to lift the trophy in several weeks time. In the men's event, however, we do already know one likelihood - Rafa Nadal is likely to need to beat both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in order to be victorious at SW19 for the first time since 2010, with the seeding committee giving the King of Clay the third seed spot, deviating from his world ranking of two.

There's been some speculation as to whether this was the correct course of action, with Nadal himself saying it 'doesn't seem right' but considering we already knew in advance that Wimbledon takes into account previous grass court success with their seeding, it does seem fair. Since reaching the final in 2011 Nadal has never got to that stage again and from 2012-2015 was knocked out each year by a player ranked outside the top 100. He missed 2016 before losing to Gilles Muller in 2017, and then in an epic semi-final, in 2018, was edged out by Djokovic.

On the other hand, we have to go back to 2013 to find a year that Federer didn't make the quarter-finals at least, and he's reached the final three times in that 2014-2018 period, winning the title once, in 2017. Just as Federer could have no complaints if he was seeded lower at the French Open (if such a rule applied), Nadal cannot here.

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Federer second in the outright market behind Djokovic

The market also has Federer as a stronger outright proposition than Nadal, pricing up the Swiss legend at 4.507/2, with Nadal back at 7.4013/2. Both are behind tournament favourite Novak Djokovic, however, with the world number one currently trading at 2.767/4.

Elite players have dominated men's draw in recent years

Realistically, it would be a shock if the tournament winner didn't come from this trio. The three of them, plus Andy Murray, have won every single Wimbledon title from 2003 onwards, and combining the implied percentage of these three players here in the current outright market, the market makes it a 72% chance for this trend to continue.

Statistically, Djokovic's status as tournament favourite looks reasonable. He has the best 24 month grass court combined service/return points won percentage on tour (114.4%), slightly ahead of Federer (113.9%). There is little doubt that grass is Federer's best surface, and given that he's available at a reasonably bigger price than Djokovic, a kind draw could mean Federer may represent slight value at prices. Given the seedings, and Nadal's grass court record, I'm not nearly as keen on the Spaniard at current market lines.

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Long-shot options could still provide some value

While history is on the side of the big three, this doesn't necessarily mean that there aren't opportunities to back a player at more long-shot prices with a view to trading out during some stage of the tournament, or potentially, after the draw, look at quarter winners. From the seedings, at least one quarter winner won't be Djokovic, Federer and Nadal, so we can assess that area post-draw as well.

Players that I have my eye on prior to tomorrow's draw include Matteo Berrettini, arguably the breakthrough player of 2019, as well as Grigor Dimitrov, who hasn't convinced of late but has an excellent grass court record, in addition to on quick surfaces in general. The improving Daniil Medvedev could also have a strong tournament, while Felix Auger-Aliassime, from a small sample, has also impressed on grass in the warm-up events. Marin Cilic, if fit and benefiting from a kind draw also has grass court pedigree.

I'll be back over the weekend to discuss the draw in further detail and finalise my pre-tournament outright selections, so check back over the weekend for that in advance of daily previews every day during the tournament across the next two weeks.


Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings

Watch Dan Weston in our Wimbledon podcast here

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