Wimbledon 2019 WTA Preview

The oldest tennis tournament in the history of the world is back again, it’s Wimbledon time!!! Starting in 1877 they’ve played this event every year except a few years during the World Wars. Although the grass season is short, it’s full of memories, and most have happened at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. We have a fortnight of ladies in white hitting big serves, trying to create spin, and headed for the net. Looking back through history the tournament’s winners are a list of the very best the sport has to offer, but lately it’s been dominated by 2 women. Besides playing tennis, one is well known for her mothering, the other is well known for being her sister, and both like to design clothes. The Williams sisters have dominated this event since 2000. Take a look:

15 of the last 19 Wimbledon finals featured either Venus or Serena. Combined, the 2 have won 12 of the last 19 Venus Rosewater Dishes (how weird is it that they get giant platter and the men get a trophy?). Serena has 7 and Venus has 5. They’ve even played each other in the Wimbledon final 4 times, Serena winning 3. Admittedly, neither has looked even close to their former selves this season, but let’s take a moment to acknowledge that dominance because it’s truly staggering. Like I mentioned, it’s going to be quite a feet if either can raise their current level, find some former glory, and make a long run at this event, but what an era we’ve been lucky enough to witness.

Before we jump into the draw let’s look at past winners and some historical data. We have to be careful because grass season is very short and a lot of players only 1 or 2 events but playing at least one grass event before Wimbledon is a good idea. In fact, unless your last name is Williams, if you made the Wimbledon final you played a warm up event on grass and most the week just before Wimbledon.

This next table looks at historical totals and how often matches have gone over certain totals at Wimbledon and on your average grass court tournament. Start by comparing the bottom row which shows the averages for all rounds. In general, it looks like Wimbledon matches are shorter than average, but there’s not enough of a variance to confidently say we should bet unders the next two weeks. Matches are anywhere from 1% to 5% shorter at the All England Club. Again, not enough to say only bet unders, but keep that in mind as you handicap this tournament.

Now let’s take a look at how close matches at Wimbledon tend to be. The table below shows how often matches exceed certain game spreads. The top shows us just Wimbledon and the bottom averages for all grass court events. For example, for all rounds at Wimbledon, on average, 36.3% of matches have a game spread less than 4.5. Looking at the differences matches at Wimbledon are not as close as your average grass court match. We see a 5% to 7% variance at the 3.5, 4.5, and 5.5 marks. Don’t be too afraid to lay the games this fortnight.

On to the draw…….

Quarter 1

Wow, just, WOW. What an incredibly talented group we have in the first quarter. Ashleigh Barty is the favorite to win the event. Garbiñe Muguruza won the event in 2017 and finished second in 2015. Belinda Bencic is one of the hottest players on tour and has a great game for grass despite her lack of past experience. Serena Williams (see above). Julia Goerges who over the past 2 years has a hold+break above 110 on grass. Finally we have Angelique Kerber who is the defending champion. My apologies to several other women in this quarter who would have been fantastic underdog plays, but there just isn’t enough time to touch on all the talented women we have. Given all that, it would be foolish to wager on a tournament outright in this quarter. Barty & Kerber are in the top 5 favorites, but they have such big landmines along the way it’s hard to invest at those prices. I do, however, see some value in the to win the quarter market. Angelique Kerber sits in the bottom half of the quarter and shouldn’t really have a tough match until she meets Serena or Goerges to make the quarterfinals. Kerber has beaten Serena here and it’s tough to trust that Williams is healthy enough to play this much tennis. Kerber would be a favorite over Goerges. Given all that I expect her to make the quarterfinals. At 3-1 to win this quarter you’d be in an excellent spot come the quarterfinal. Worst case she faces Barty and you can hedge with a close line. Half of a unit on Kerber to win the quarter at 3-1.

Quarter 2

The second quarter features some big names, but some of those names have a lot of uncertainty. Petra Kvitova would be a great pick, but she mentioned even days ago she was unsure she was healthy enough to play the event. Kiki Bertens has a great serve, but lacks success at this event and has looked rough the past few weeks. Sloane Stephens continues to be as Sloane Stephensy as she can be (this is not a good thing). The other problem is that the winner of this quarter has to play the winner of quarter 1 and if you recall that quarter is loaded, so I will again be staying away from any outright picks to win the tournament. The good news is that all these questionable big names offer us some great prices on to win the quarter bets. Let’s focus on the top of the quarter that lacks Konta, Anisimova, and a potentially healthy Kvitova. In the top half there are 2 names with big odds that I think can make it to the quarterfinal and even win the quarter. Elise Mertens at 22-1 and Babora Strycova at 40-1 will each get a quarter of a unit. They are grizzled veterans with good grass court numbers and the mental fortitude to navigate 2 weeks of highs takes tennis. Mertens first 3 matches should go very smoothly and Strycova will be waiting for Kiki Bertens in round 3. If either can beat a less than great Kiki Bertens then we have a big underdog in the quarterfinals.

Quarter 3

Boy, if Karolina Plisova doesn’t make a long run this year then I’m not sure she ever will at this event. She is coming off her 2nd title in Eastbourne and was absolutely incredible all week. She won all 10 sets she played and averaged a 2 & 2 win. Pliskova has a perfect game for grass, but has only ever made the 4th round at the All England Club. This year she has a perfect draw. She should walk into the 4th round where she’ll likely face Vondrousova who’s great, but not on the same level as Pliskova on grass. To the win the quarter she’ll probably face Sevastova or Martic (sorry Svitolina). Karolina will be the favorite in that match. She’s the 2nd favorite to win the event at 7-1 which means I won’t be betting on her, but I will be watching her performances closely. Her presence does make it again hard to pick any outrights, so let’s look to the quarter market again to see if we can get an underdog to the quarterfinal match. Let’s circle back to that list from earlier. Martic is priced at 8-1 and Sevastova is priced at 14-1 to win the quarter. The 2 will meet in the 3rd round which makes me surprised to see Sevastova at bigger odds than Martic. I would line that match evenly and Sevastova has an easier first 2 matches. I’ll put a quarter unit on her to win the quarter. There is one other flyer I’m going to take. Margarita Gasparyan is 100-1 to win the quarter. She’d have to beat Svitolina (not that difficult on grass), then Sakkari (another less than stellar grass player) followed by the winner of Sevastova/Martic to make the quarterfinal. Gasparyan has had a solid grass season and her serve, backhand, and slice play well on the surface. Her odds to win this quarter should be in the 25-1 range, not 100-1. .1 units on Gasparyan to win the quarter.

Quarter 4

Winner of 2 of the last 3 grand slams, Naomi Osaka, sits in the bottom of this quarter. She’s had some success on grass, but she’s had a rough stretch these last few weeks. She hasn’t won more than 3 matches at one event since the Australian Open. Last we saw her she got smoked by Yulia Putintseva 2 & 3 and guess who she plays in round 1? It’s just hard to trust that she’ll do well even though it is a grand slam. Simona Halep is at the top of the quarter and I think I’ve finally found a bet to win the tournament I like. Most people think of her as a clay player, but she has a hold+break above 110 on the surface and has made the semifinals once and the quarters twice here. I’m seeing her at 20-1 to win the whole tournament and I love that number. I’m not expecting Osaka to be in the quarterfinal, so Halep should be favored in all her matches. Half a unit on Halep to win Wimbledon

Recap

Outrights

·         Half unit - Kerber to win the 1st Quarter at 3-1

·         Quarter unit - Mertens to win the 2nd Quarter at 22-1

·         Quarter unit - Strycova to win the 2nd Quarter at 40-1

·         Quarter unit - Sevastova to win the 3rd Quarter at 14-1

·         .1 unit - Gasparyan to win the 3rd Quarter at 100-1

·         Half unit – Halep to win Wimbledon at 20-1

My Bracket

·         1st Quarter – Barty over Kerber

·         2nd Quarter – Konta over Mertens

·         3rd Quarter – Pliskova over Sevastova

·         4th Quarter – Halep over Garcia

·         Final – Barty over Halep