Wimbledon 2021 Preview and Picks

Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world and the most prestigious. Roger Federer has won the most titles—eight—and also has the most wins, 101. In 2019, the last time the tournament was held, Novak Djokovic (below) won a tight five-set battle that required a tie-breaker at 12-all, winning his fifth Wimbledon title.

Cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the tournament is now back in full swing. Let’s look at some of the contenders, including favorites, top seeds, and dark horses.

First Quarter

Djokovic leads the pack in a quest for his sixth Wimbledon crown and a chance to tie Federer’s and Rafael Nadal’s Grand Slam records (20). The Serbian defeated Nadal in the semis, and Stefanos Tsitsipas in the French Open final just two weeks ago. He’s now just a title away to match the record.

Given the competition around him, Djokovic has a good chance to claim all four Slams in a calendar year. But it’s worth noting that last time, when Novak defeated Nadal on the road for a French Open win, he then lost in the third round at Wimbledon, in one of the all-time biggest upsets to Sam Querrey. At -110 for the title, the Serbian offers zero value.

Although he’s struggled with injuries and isn’t in any sort of form, Kevin Anderson offers an interesting match-up to the defending champion in the second round. A finalist in 2018 who lost in straight sets to Djokovic, Anderson defeated Federer 13-11 in the fifth and Isner 26-24 for his only Grand Slam final to date.

No. 5 Seed Andrey Rublev made it to the final in Halle last week, but dropped it to Ugo Humbert, and is the only player with any sort of grass form or good record on that surface in the first quarter. It’ll be interesting to see how a guy like Jannik Sinner fares here, as the Italian hasn’t developed experience yet, but is a young and exciting prospect to say the least. So pay attention, he may throw a bomb here or there.

Final prediction – Novak Djokovic vs. Andrey Rublev     

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Second Quarter

No. 3 seed Tsitsipas hasn’t played any tune-up tournaments on grass since an emotional loss to Djokovic in the French Open two weeks ago. It’s hard to gauge his mental state, but this loss could have a prolonged negative effect on his performance. The Olympics, a month away, could be a better time for him to regain his form. With a 12-9 record on grass, he’s a good candidate to pack the bags early.

Stefanos’ draw isn’t doing him many favors, with Alex De Minaur (l.) a projected opponent for him in the fourth round. The Aussie lost in the semis in Queens to Berrettini and won the title in Eastbourne. With a 31-14 record on grass and a feel for this surface, he could see an extended run here, despite the presence of Feliciano Lopez. I have concerns about the Spanish veteran. Lopez has performed well in the events on grass, but if we consider only his 35-19 record in London, then his record gets slaughtered. He hasn’t made it through the third round since 2014.

Andy Murray accepted a wild card and it’s always fascinating to see what the Scot can do on grass. Fighting injuries and surgeries and attempting numerous comebacks, he still has lots of desire to compete and falls into an interesting bracket with Nikoloz Basilashvilli, with a Denis Shapovalov encounter possible in the third round. A two-time Wimbledon champion with one Olympic title taken on grass, he’s one of the best when he’s on. But those injuries and setbacks, which have come in waves, are hard to overlook. Especially in a Best of 5, Murray could have a problem with fitness.

I can’t overlook No. 8 seed Bautista Agut. Although his preparation for the grass Grand Slam hasn’t been ideal, he has a SF in Wimbledon to his credit in 2019. But a 39-20 record and minus 0.5 ROI doesn’t inspire confidence that he’ll make another deep run.

Final prediction – Alex De Minaur vs. Denis Shapovalov

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Third Quarter

It’s the bottom part of the draw that I’m personally most excited about. No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini (l.) is the deserved favorite here. The Italian caught the title in Queens Club with only one dropped set in the final to Cameron Norrie. His groundstrokes and big serves made the difference that week, as he went four matches in a row without being broken. With 22-7 on grass and +19.1 ROI, no wonder he’s a favorite and priced at +187 to win the quarter.

While I’m high on the Italian to make it deep, I don’t underestimate the chances of some guys around him, starting off with No. 28 seed John Isner. The American showed great form on the clay court, usually his least favorite surface because of movement limitations and his overall game.

Even with only a 5-2 record on clay, he was able to have +101% ROI. It’s compelling what he’ll do here, as he’s managed to gather a respective 49-24 record on the surface, but only 19-11 at Wimbledon.

Kei Nishikori, who is unseeded, has two QF’s in Wimbledon and falls between Aslan Karatsev and Casper Ruud in the draw, which could help him get on some sort of roll before he faces Berrettini. Nishikori played only Halle and lost in the second round, but in his last appearances in London lost to Djokovic and Federer (2018-19). He can surely make something happen again, as he’s avoided drawing a stronger opponent early on.

Felix Auger-Aliassime and Ugo Humbert are two of the best in-form players on grass this season, and it’s bad for both that if they win their matches they’ll meet very early in the third round. Felix is 15-5 on grass, with +30.3% ROI and a final in Stuttgart and SF in Halle this year.

The young Canadian has only one appearance in Wimbledon so far, but if his play in recent weeks is any indicator, he should see plenty of chances going deep into grass court tournaments—if not this year, then in the next decade.

On his path, however, is Humbert, another promising young player who found his groove on this turf. Humbert withdrew from Mallorca with food poisoning, giving Querrey a walkover to the third round. That derailed his form after a QF in Stuttgart (he lost to Aliassime). He grabbed the title in Halle, beating Aliassime and Andrey Rublev in the final as a +220 underdog.

I’m high on Ugo, but he starts off with the always unpredictable Nick Kyrgios. The Australian barely beat him behind an inspiring performance generated by the electric crowd at the Aussie Open. Kyrgios hasn’t played since, and it’s impressive to see how he’s returned to action after 4.5 months.

Alexander Zverev, the No. 4 seed of the competition, is fortunate to avoid such players early on. The German lost to Humbert in R2. He’s only 25-15 on grass, which is disappointing with his arsenal of heavy groundstrokes and big serve. Expect to see deeper runs from him especially on such a fast surface. But the draw is hard on him after the third round.

Final prediction – Matteo Berretiini vs. Felix or Ugo

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Fourth Quarter

Federer (l.) returns to Wimbledon after he blew a two MP on serve and lost the final to Djokovic in 2019. His resume on grass is enormous, but Federer looked like a shell of himself when he played Halle, in a tournament where he’s been victorious a record 10 times. He escaped Ilya Ivashka in R1, only to lose to Aliassime in the second round from a set-up. He looked slow on the run, and needs to find his form fast if he wants to compete on the highest level and contest for another Grand Slam title.

Federer’s first test may come as early as the third round, when he could meet Cameron Norrie, who’s only 12-8 on grass. Norrie had some sort of awakening with a final in Queens (he lost to Berrettini), and is having a great overall year with an 33-11 record. He’s steadily improving his ranking from the mid-70’s to the Top 40.

Querrey may face the Swiss in the fourth round, and except for Lorenzo Sonego, who lost a final in Eastbourne, there’s not much going on in terms of competition in this part of the draw. But below is where things are interesting.

Medvedev started to gain confidence, and even if his clay court swing hasn’t been good, he’s shown improvement on the surface and could go to another run deep into the second week of a Grand Slam event.

But that statement isn’t backed up with a solid and favorable draw, which put him against Jan-Lennard Struff again, the same guy who beat the Russian in the first round in Halle without dropping a set, just two weeks ago. Marin Cilic is an interesting floater here. The No. 32 seed is always dangerous on grass, and there is potential for an upset in the third round.

Final prediction – Roger Federer vs. Daniil Medvedev

How to Watch Wimbledon 2021

Here’s the 2021 Wimbledon 2021 broadcast viewing schedule:

First round—Monday & Tuesday, June 28-29
6 a.m.—11:30 a.m. ET, ESPN
11:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Second round—Wednesday & Thursday, June 30-July 1
6 a.m.—4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Third round—Friday & Saturday, July 2-3
6 a.m.—11:30 a.m. ET, ESPN (Friday)
11:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m., ESPN2 (Friday)
8 a.m.—11:30 a.m. ET, ESPN
11:30 a.m.—2 p.m. ET, ESPN2
2 p.m.—5 p.m. ET, ESPN

Round of 16—Monday, July 5
6 a.m.—4 p.m. ET, ESPN2
8 a.m.—4 p.m. ET, ESPN

Women’s & Men’s Quarterfinals—Tuesday & Wednesday, July 6-7
8 a.m.—2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
8 a.m.—4 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Women’s Semifinals—Thursday, July 8
8 a.m.—1 p.m. ET, ESPN

Men’s Semifinals—Friday, July 9
8 a.m.—2 p.m. ET, ESPN

Women’s Final—Saturday, July 10
9 a.m.—3 p.m. ET, ESPN

Men’s Final—Sunday, July 11
9 a.m.— 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

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