The summer tennis showpiece is cranking up through the gears, and at last we know the identities of the four players who will make up the semi-final places on the men’s side of the draw.
The identity of the last four may surprise you somewhat. There’s no Novak Djokovic, disposed of in the last 16 by lanky American Sam Querrey, although home (ish) favourite Andy Murry remains, as does seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer. They are joined by big-serving Milos Raonic and consistent Czech ace Tomas Berdych.
The upshot is that Andy Murray has become a heavy favourite for the title – he does have the slightly easier draw against Berdych – while Federer must see off the challenge of Raonic if he is to reach a historic eleventh final at SW19.
Here is the best of the betting value to be enjoyed as Wimbledon 2016 reaches its final furlong:
Andy Murray – Wimbledon Winner (8/13)
Hopefully most of you got on the 7/2 we recommended on Murray before the tournament began, but if not there is still value enough to be had in the 8/13 currently available.
As we will discuss later in this article, he has a handsome record against Berdych and should have the firepower to see him off inside four sets, while on the other side of the draw Federer and Raonic could be in for another punishing five set match. That will play into the Scot’s hands.
He has won both of his ‘finals’ at SW19: the Olympic Games of 2012, followed by Wimbledon itself in 2013 when he achieved his destiny in beating Djokovic on the famous lawns. So, is record is good in finals; especially when the Serb isn’t around.
Murray-Berdych – Over 3.5 Sets (11/10)
The tale of the tape here is that we expect Murray to win comfortably enough, but expect the Czech to get at least one chance to win a set via a tiebreak.
Murray leads their head-to-heads 8-6, winning the last four encounters and three of those in straight sets. They have never met on grass before, but Murray leads 2-1 in grand slam matches – although the most recent of those saw Berdych nick a set to take it past the 3.5 mark.
What makes the Scot’s task harder is the route he has had to endure to reach the last four. He has already beaten Nick Kyrgios and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga in two energy sapping outings, while Berdych has enjoyed the life of riley with his draw: the highest ranked player he has faced is world number 30 Lucas Pouille, who he despatched in straight sets.
Expect Murray to win, but it may not be pretty.
Raonic to beat Federer (8/5)
Given that Federer boasts a 9-2 head-to-head lead on Raonic, this wager might seem slightly counter intuitive. But there was a tangible sense of fragility in the Swiss star’s game in the quarters, and if anybody can take advantage it is the relentless and hungry for success Raonic.
That h2h record is put into perspective by the Canadian’s win last time these two met in January, and in matches played since Raonic’s maturity as a top flight player early in 2015 the set score is just 4-3 in Federer’s favour. This match will be a lot closer than the bookies are insinuating.
Federer’s clash with Marin Cilic in the quarters was the first time he had met any player of repute at Wimbledon 2016: and he nearly paid the penalty. The Croat blew him off court in the first two sets with some brutal serving and forehand drives, and it was only when the former world number one switched to Cilic’s backhand side during their rallies that he enjoyed any success.
Admittedly Raonic was nearly dumped out of the competition against David Goffin in the last 16, but he showed incredible fortitude – no doubt helped by John McEnroe’s tutelage – to fight back and claim the match in five. He will have no fear heading onto centre court on Friday.
If the Canadian plays as he did in the final of Queens against Murray – where he took the first set despite a partisan home crowd – he will go close. Federer will have the support of SW19, but Raonic won’t give a monkey’s.