It’s two majors down and two to go, as Novak Djokovic stands halfway towards completing a calendar Grand Slam for the first time in his career.
Betting sites make him odds on to win Wimbledon and the clear favourite to regain the US Open at Flushing Meadows too, but can anyone derail the Serb?
It’s fair to say the stars are aligning in favour of Djokovic securing his eighth Wimbledon title. He hasn’t lost at SW19 since being forced to retire with injury against Tomas Berdych in 2017 which means he’s on a run of 28 wins in a row at Wimbledon.
He hasn’t lost on Centre Court since 2013, an astonishing fact that even chief rival Carlos Alcaraz is well aware of. He no longer needs to think about the presence of Rafa Nadal or Roger Federer. And, if we’re honest, virtually every potential contender to his grass court crown is either out of form or has a significant question mark next to their name.
The betting sites on bookmakers.tv have reacted accordingly, by cutting Djokovic’s odds for the title. He could have been backed at 6/5 as recently as April, but has gradually shortened and is now no bigger than 8/11.
Of course there’s no such thing as an absolute certainty in tennis, and a case can be made for some others.
Carlos Alcaraz headed to Queen’s last week with very limited competitive grass court experience under his belt. The Spaniard started slowly, needing a deciding set tie-break before eventually scraping past Arthur Rinderknech, but found his form as the tournament progressed to see off each of Grigor Dimitrov, Sebastian Korda and Alex de Minaur in straight sets.
Winning at Queen’s has resulted in Alcaraz regaining the world number ranking, and betting sites evidently liked what they saw too, trimming his Wimbledon odds from 5/1 to around 7/2.
Alcaraz’s run at Queen’s will quite possibly lead to him becoming a crowd favourite at Wimbledon with the casual tennis fans who only tune in for the BBC events, but Djokovic has silenced the crowd on many an occasion and would surely be a huge favourite if up against Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final.
Of the others that were in action at Queen’s, Alex de Minaur is worthy of a mention. His final appearance was his second on grass, after winning the 2021 Eastbourne title, and picking up the scalp of an in-form Andy Murray will have done wonders for the Aussie’s confidence too. A kind draw could well see him go deep at Wimbledon but it’d take a brave bettor to back him in a direct match-up against Djokovic.
There are few obvious champions-in-waiting to emerge from Halle either. An early defeat at Roland Garros gave Daniil Medvedev plenty of time to acclimatize to a different surface, but the former world number one was disappointed at both Hertogenbosch and Halle. The reaction from bookies was predictably negative, with the Russian pushed right out from 8/1 to 16/1.
It has been a similar story for Stefanos Tsitsipas (50/1). The two-time Grand Slam finalist was another to struggle in Germany this month, although he’ll hope to gain confidence and form when he returns to Mallorca this week as the defending champion and number-one seed.
A better bet off the back of Halle maybe Alexander Bublik. Victories over Jan Sinner and Alexander Zverev were highlights from the Kazakh’s run to the final, and it is actually the third time he’s made it to a final on the green stuff. His exploits have seen his Wimbledon odds trimmed to 66/1 in places, but look hard enough and the 250/1 still on offer is surely worth a second thought, even if a tussle with Djokovic proves a bridge too far.
If we look at previous Wimbledon finalists, there’s little to worry the Djokovic camp there either. Matteo Berrettini has just started on the road back from a stomach muscle tear and was on the wrong end of a heavy defeat in Stuttgart. An abdominal concern forced him out of Queen’s too and has culminated in him missing out on being seeded for Wimbledon. The likelihood of Berrettini repeating his run to 2021 Wimbledon final is receding by the day, as his odds have tumbled from single figures to as big as 100/1.
There’s surely limited hope for fans of Nick Kyrgios too. The man that many love to hate has had six months to forget, first pulling out of January’s Australian Open to undergo knee surgery before eventually returning to action in Stuttgart earlier this month. The comeback resulted in a straight sets loss though, and Kyrgios has since been forced to pull out of both Halle and Mallorca to give himself the best chance of competing at Wimbledon.
His likely spot as the 31st seed leaves open the mouthwatering prospect of a third round encounter with either Djokovic or Alcaraz but it’s hard to justify backing the Aussie, even at odds of 40/1.
That leaves just three names truly worthy of a mention. Andy Murray may have a metal hip but he has been reeling off straight sets wins at Challenger level, forcing bookmakers to trim his Wimbledon odds from 100/1 to as short as 33/1.
His early defeat at Queen’s to Alex de Minaur may have scuppered plans to secure a seeding at Wimbledon, but he remains a dangerous opponent and is certainly someone the rest of the field will be desperate to avoid in the early rounds.
Whether Murray’s body can carry him through up to seven five-setters is the million dollar question though. While the heart would love to say yes, the brain has to say no, even at 70/1 where his odds have now settled.
Jan Sinner enjoyed a run to the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2022 where he found a way past both Alcaraz and the big serving John Isner before giving Djokovic a huge scare. He has bounced back from an early defeat at Roland Garros with wins at ‘s-Hertogenbosch and could outperform odds of 18/1 and could justify his position as fourth favourite.
Similar can be said for Taylor Fritz, who also made the last eight a year ago and will hope to carry real momentum into Wimbledon by playing Eastbourne this week. His results as top seed on the south coast will be worth keeping a tab on, and there are worse 33/1 shots for sure, if you’re really looking for someone to take on the big two.
So where does that leave us? All in all, the most likely scenario that could see Djokovic fall short at Wimbledon would be getting caught cold in an early round, given he’ll come to the tournament without any competitive grass court matches. However, get through those matches and the trophy engraver can probably get their work done early.