The world of men’s tennis has been dominated by four players over the last five years, with Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray winning all but one of the Grand Slam titles since 2010. The obvious strategy here, it seems, is to just stick to backing one of those four with a straightforward 'outright winner' bet. However, there is much more to consider when making a wager on a tournament.
The first issue to be aware of is the form of the individuals going into the event. Take Andy Murray’s unsuccessful defence of his Wimbledon title at the 2014 competition. The British number one arrived at SW19 having lost out at Queen’s to the unlikely Radek Štěpánek in the third round. He subsequently went on to lose in straight sets at Wimbledon's quarter-final stage to Grigor Dimitrov, thereby relinquishing his crown.
The eventual winner was, of course, Novak Djokovic. He entered the tournament having already triumphed over Nadal on more than one occasion, and against Federer once. It was no coincidence then, given the strength of Djokovic's form in the months leading up to Wimbledon, that he went on to become the champion.
Arguably as crucial as form to a player's win potential is the surface that the tournament is played on; tennis pros will usually have a specific surface on which they perform better. Nadal, despite having won five Grand Slam titles on other surfaces, famously excels on clay. The Spaniard has won on the French Open's clay courts a record nine times, losing just one match on the dust of Roland Garros in 10 years.
Between 2005 and 2013 the 14-time Grand Slam champion lost just 11 matches on the red stuff. Nadal is a tennis bettor’s dream when playing on the surface he's made his own and his consistently short odds should do nothing to deter backers.
For many players, it is the venue and their history with it that has the greatest impact on their chances. Roger Federer is the most decorated player in modern tennis, but will always be particularly associated with Wimbledon's Centre Court. The Swiss superstar has lifted the famous gold trophy on seven occasions and reserves his best performances for the English summer. This means that Federer is always worth an outright punt despite his advancing years, as he showed in the 2014 tournament when Djokovic narrowly edged him out of the final.
Tennis betting often throws up short odds, but keeping form, surface and history in mind is an almost foolproof way of improving your profits. If you choose to support one of the top four, then the prices will always be short. However, those looking for a potentially large return for a small stake can apply the same principles to players at heftier prices. Backers should place an each-way bet that will see them claim half the odds should their player make the final, and half if they win the tournament.