One can summarise The Championships women’s singles draw succinctly as thus: the top half is a lot softer than the bottom half. Karolina Pliskova is seeded to run into Shuai Zhang, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Caroline Wozniacki in her quarter of The Championships women’s singles draw, with struggling world number one Angelique Kerber her most probable semi-final opponent. The Championships women’s singles draw contains a number of dangerous unseeded floaters and most of them, including Victoria Azarenka, Asheleigh Barty and Sabine Lisicki, find themselves in the bottom half – the fourth quarter is particularly brutal because it houses Simona Halep, Johanna Konta, Petra Kvitova, Azarenka and some other talented players.
The Championships women’s singles may get under way with Pliskova as the title favourite so she rates as one’s headline pick at second favourite odds of +550 with many bookmakers, including 32Red, Paddy Power and SkyBet.
Pliskova is one of the biggest servers in women’s tennis – she and her sister, Kristyna, have sent down the highest number of aces this year – so The Championships should be her favourite Grand Slam tournament. Pliskova has not got past the second round in five appearances in the main draw of The Championships but her grass-court results away from south-west London have been good, including reaching the Birmingham final in 2015, qualifying for the Nottingham title decider in 2016 and making the Eastbourne last two in 2016 and 2017. Pliskova’s statistics in The Championships women’s singles are anomalies and, having progressed from the French Open first round in 2016 to the semi-finals in 2017, she has demonstrated that she is on the rise. Furthermore, Pliskova partnered Julia Gorges to reach the women’s doubles last four in The Championships last year.
The Championships women’s singles is wide open due to the absence of Serena Williams but Pliskova will never get a better chance of making her first Grand Slam final and, if she gets to the championship match, she may encounter an opponent that has exhausted themself making it that far.
Andy Murray is the hero of The Championships crowd but he should not be trading at odds on to be the men’s singles quarter-finalist from the first quarter of the draw.
A sore hip forced Murray to pull out of his final warm-up match ahead of The Championships men’s singles and he lost 6-7 2-6 to Australian youngster Jordan Thompson at the Queen’s Club a fortnight ago. It is another Australian player in whom one is interested in The Championships men’s singles first quarter market and that man is Nick Kyrgios.
Never will Kyrgios be popular with tennis fans – both in his home country and overseas – because of his on- and off-court antics but he does possess more natural ability than almost everyone else in the men’s singles rankings and grass is his best surface. Kyrgios has reached the last eight (once) and the last 16 (twice) in his three appearances in The Championships men’s singles and, while he lost 5-7 1-6 4-6 to Murray at Wimbledon last year, the Briton is not close to the form that he produced in the second half of 2016.
Coral and Ladbrokes are offering odds of +600 about Kyrgios winning the first quarter of The Championships men’s singles and he represents the value play in opposition to Murray, Stan Wawrinka, who has a terrible record against highly ranked opponents on grass, and perennial underachiever Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Kyrgios is going to go a long way in a Grand Slam event sometime soon and he may excel in London.
Karolina Pliskova to win the women’s singles
Wimbledon, 3rd July – 16th July
Nick Kyrgios to win the men’s singles
Wimbledon, 3rd July – 16th July