Wimbledon begins next week to cap off a brilliant few weeks of sport. The preparation for the third Grand Slam of the tennis season has been somewhat overshadowed by World Cup, One-Day cricket and Formula One action, but all attention will firmly be on southwest London come the opening rounds.
The weather is expected to be glorious – for the first few days, at least – as the only grass Grand Slam of the year becomes the focus of the world’s media.
Wimbledon is an event almost obsessed with tradition, from the all-white uniform requirement to the overconsumption of strawberries and cream, and it’s the traditional favourites who lead the field once again.
Fresh from his mid-season break, Roger Federer is obviously the man to watch. Federer has a claim to be the greatest active sportsman on the planet. So much of that is down to his Wimbledon dominance, which was exhibited once again as he cruised to the title in 2017.
The Swiss icon has lost just three of his 28 matches this season. One of those defeats, though, was his last outing.
World number 34, Borna Coric, got the better of Federer in three sets in the final at Halle, but it’s worth remembering that Federer also won the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart earlier this month, seeing off Milos Raonic in the final.
Just like with all iconic greats, Federer is the clear favourite at 6/4 here. His price is on the short side, but it’s hard to see anyone in this field beating the eight-time champion if he’s fully fit.
Speaking of icons, another of tennis’ oldest friends, Rafael Nadal, is a favourite to win the tournament.
Nadal hasn’t played a match since his French Open victory but has remained at world number one and is playing some of his best ever tennis. He hasn’t made it past the last 16 at Wimbledon since 2011, however, meaning there’s not much value in backing him.
Alexander Zverev is one of the intriguing bets in the market. The 21-year-old German sits just behind Federer in the world rankings and is at a decent price (13/1) for a player of his calibre.
His pre-tournament warm-up didn’t go all that well, though, losing to Coric in the first round in Halle. His net play is the main concern on the grass.
Up to fourth in the world, Juan Martin del Potro is a brilliant price to go all the way. He might just be the favourite if Federer has injury issues or a rare off day. Grand Slams are better with a 100% del Potro, and as we saw in he took Novak Djokovic to five sets in the semi-final in 2013, he has the game to be a force on the grass.
The British hopes for this year are no more than longshots. Kyle Edmund has grown immensely has a player in recent times, but even a trip to the semi-finals would be a shock.
Andy Murray has only just returned from injury and is set for a difficult draw. Edmund represents the best value of the two though Murray does have a real affinity with Wimbledon given his previous record in this event.
Grigor Dimitrov, who lost to Djokovic at Queen’s, Marin Cilic, who beat Djokovic in the final, and Djokovic himself, are all outside bets worth considering.
Dimitrov is one of most talented players on the tour, with a game that should suit the grass. Cilic has been there and done it, having made at least the quarters in his last four tournaments. And, for all his struggles this year, do you really want to write off Novak Djokovic?
Dimitrov is probably the best value but there’ll definitely be a few who back Djokovic after his exploits at Queen’s.
At some point, surely, someone will succeed Federer as the monarch of Wimbledon. Whether it’s this year is hard to tell. Personally, I’d be surprised to see anyone else hold the trophy aloft this summer.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*