We’re a full five days into Wimbledon with the top half of the draw completing three rounds and the bottom half playing its third round on Saturday.
Up to now, there have been some surprises — Felix Auger-Aliassime eliminated on Day 1, Nick Kyrgios played (and won) a full five sets against an opponent ranked just below No. 300 on tour and others have been forced to withdraw from the tournament due to COVID, including two-time grass champion this season Matteo Berrettini.
There have also been some positive surprises, namely 19-year-old phenom Carlos Alcaraz advancing to the fourth round after it was uncertain how his skill set would translate on a faster surface. It’s working out so far, having defeated two of his three opponents in straight sets.
Short of entering Week 2 of Wimbledon, is there any value left in the futures market or matches?
Current odds to win ATP Wimbledon
Novak Djokovic -200
Rafael Nadal +450
Carlos Alcaraz +800
Nick Kyrgios +1200
Stefanos Tsitsipas +1600
Jannik Sinner +3300
The risk on taking a futures wager now
Three players have had to withdraw from Wimbledon due to a positive COVID-19 test, two of which were withdrawals before the tournament began in Marin Cilic and Matteo Berrettini. The surprise withdrawal came prior to the second round with Roberto Bautista Agut after he won his opening match handily with a 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 scoreline.
Djokovic is still the rightful favorite to win with six Wimbledon titles, having won the last three straight. However, laying juice when a positive COVID-19 test could come into play is risky business, and of course not just with Djokovic but anyone left in the tournament.
Djoker’s next match on Sunday is an intriguing one as he faces Dutchman Tim van Rijthoven, who is definitely not a household name but is proving to be a contender on grass and not by fluke.
Rijthoven is on an eight-match win streak this grass season and it all started in the Libema Open when he won his first ATP match, defeated his first top-25 player in Taylor Fritz, beat his first top-10 player in Aliassime and then won his first title in defeating Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-1.
What makes Rijthoven so well suited for this surface? His style of player is a variant of Roger Federer, strong serve, solid forehand, good hands at the net, an all-around game complete with a wicked slice.
Why having a wicked slice is a huge weapon on grass..
Defensively: it controls the pace
Offensively: the ball just dies & there's nothing you can do
No one at Queens or Halle has as good a slice game as Tim van Rijthoven last week at Libema. pic.twitter.com/ALP2u9Rd1l
— Pamela Maldonado (@pamelam35) June 16, 2022
Am I ready to call for an upset over Djokovic? No, but I am hoping for a competitive match. It should be a test for Djoker though, one that I’m expecting him to pass.
Making the case for Nadal (+450)
Cilic, Aliassime, and Berrettini were all in Nadal’s half of the draw, which leaves two possible tough matches remaining. I expect Rafa to get past Lorenzo Sonego on Saturday. It should be competitive but Nadal is just too higher-caliber of an opponent. Nadal’s first true big test could be against an American big server in Taylor Fritz. These two are 1-1 head-to-head, with Fritz coming out victorious in this year’s Indian Wells Final 6-3, 7-6. Let’s remember though, that was the time Nadal was definitely not 100%. We later found out he had a fractured rib which kept him off the courts for six weeks after his match against Fritz.
Still, Fritz is coming into this winning his second title on grass in Eastbourne last week, while Nadal last won a grass title in 2015. This could be tough sledding but Nadal has an 88% win record in slams, 305-41. Not including this tournament, Fritz has played less than 50 matches in majors — in his career — with a 24-23 record. In a best of five, you always give the edge to players like Nadal and Djokovic.
If Nadal gets past Fritz, then he could face the winner of Stefano Tsitsipas or Nick Kyrgios. We know Kyrgios likes to show up to these high-profile matches as we saw in last year’s Australian Open when he lost a five-set thriller (and I do mean thriller) against Dominic Thiem. However, Nick K is 24-39 against top-10 players. Kyrgios has the skills to win a major but he lacks the mental and physical stamina — edge Nadal. If Tsitsipas gets the win over Kyrgios, I’m reluctant to have any conviction in him just yet. He lacks the grass experience (14-10) and lacks the big wins — 27-36 against top-10 players.
Backing Nadal at plus money is a good look as he is likely to reach the final. Yes, he'll still be an underdog against the best grass court player on tour in Djokovic, but Nadal is still worth a shot because there is no value at -200 or higher when COVID-19 is a factor.
Value on Carlos Alcaraz (+800)
We’re seeing continued progress from Alcaraz, who Djokovic could face in the quarterfinal. I’m still considering Carlitos a wild card and anything can happen. At Wimbledon, he has shown that his skill set translates well to grass. He has a good serve (and kick serve), power forehand, slice, drop shot and the all-around game. He would SHOCK THE WORLD if his first major win is the one no one saw coming ... on grass.
For fun, let’s say it’s Alcaraz against Nadal in the final. I’m still giving the edge to a man who knows how to win (22 times to be exact) in a best of five.
As a fan, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a rematch of the 2018 Wimbledon semifinal between Djokovic and Nadal, which Djoker won in five. Let the magic continue for Nadal in a chase for the calendar slam.