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Wimbledon outright previews

This fortnight, all of my content can be found on TheShark.com.au, but not all of the content will be posted online - the website owner's wife will be having a baby any moment, so he might have better things to do than post my tips! So if they don't go up, I'll try posting them here...

MEN'S DRAW PREVIEW

As unique as grass court tennis in the Grand Slams, it's probably the least likely to throw up an odd result. It has been donkey's years since anyone other than Federer, Nadal or Djokovic won it, and most recently, we have had a year of Slam finals fought out between the latter two, Wimbledon's top two seeds.

Having such an elite trio at the top of the game is fabulous to watch, but it gets a bit dull after a while - any sign of some new blood breaking into their domain? Laying the top four in the Betfair market (well, after all, you can't barrack for Murray to win it can you?) gives you about 7/1 the rest of the field.

A big serve, a forehand grip capable of playing low/irregular bouncing balls and aggressive game are vital ingredients in the composition of a Wimbledon champion. Sadly, the ability to volley is nowhere near as vital as it once was.

Running through the chances...

1 Djokovic - the defending champion who seems a little more human in 2012. This time last year, he simply wasn't losing. While he will start the tournament as favourite, if he doesn't go back-to-back there's a real chance Rafa will claw back the top spot. Got through to the final in Paris by the seat of his pants, any similar struggle against a big server on grass is unlikely to be salvaged, but his draw looks smooth enough.

2 Nadal - back to his best on clay this season, can it be marked down to fewer injuries, a new zest for life or a reaction to the frustration of finishing runner-up at the three previous Slams? Tricky draw with Tsonga (check h2h) pencilled in for the quarters followed by Murray or Raonic.

3 Federer - multiple champion but his last win here was back in 09 and he's only reached one Slam final in the last nine. The glory days are gone, he is no longer capable of sustaining five sets of high tempo tennis against the elite, round after round. Draw looks comfortable enough, Isner in the QF then Djokovic in the semis.

4 Murray - same old story, best player yet to win a major, unfortunate to play in same era as three of the best of all time, ooh the pressure of the British press, very few players win their first major aged 25 or more, three losses in finals yada yada yada. Tough draw - once he gets past the crook in R1, he potentially faces Karlovic, Anderson, Raonic/Cilic and del Potro, all 6'5" and beyond, and a real test of Murray's patience. If a big server hits their range perfectly, break point opportunities could be as rare as one per set, and we know how grumpy the Scot can get if things aren't going his way.

It doesn't get tougher than that, although the first two opponents are shadows of their former selves.

5 Tsonga - the man the big four all fear, as shown by his win over Federer here last year, coming back from two sets down. Unbelievable stamina from a guy with such a big frame, and when his serve is firing and the momentum is on his side, he's virtually unstoppable. Threatened Djokovic here last year at the height of his powers, and should be able to overcome Aussie challengers in Hewitt and Tomic before reaching the quarters. Draws Nadal in the QF and he is more than capable of winning that. Their last four clashes have been split 2-2, with both of Big Willie's being in London (Queens and World Tour Finals 2011).

Keep reading for the full preview and the recommended bets...

WOMEN'S PREVIEW

Six different major title winners in a row, and you have to go back to Wimbledon 2010 to see a Williams on that list. The guard is definitely changing but perhaps there's another dominant force taking over….

1. Sharapova - dream draw for her combined with being in the form of her life. Pironkova R2 (form can be poor all year but picks up remarkably at SW19), Lisicki R4 (inconsistent but good record here), Clijsters (walking wounded, making one last valiant effort to play in her farewell season)/Kerber (genuine top 10 player now) QF will test her but she has the weaker half overall.

2. Azarenka - semi-finalist last year and has since clinched her first Slam title. Didn't play a lead-in tournament but that's not such a big deal on the women's tour. Ivanovic R4, Wozniacki/Bartoli QF before Serena/Kvitova in the semi. Tricky.

3. A.Radwanska - defensive styles aren't suited on grass, and with Venus Williams awaiting in R2, she could be in trouble early. Also has Hantuchova, Petrova/Pennetta and Li Na in her path. Not likely.

4. Kvitova - defending champion, but she has landed the difficult quarter with Serena. The slate stands at 0-2 against the four-time champion stands at 0-2 but a lot of water has passed under the bridge since those matches in 2010. Don't be afraid of backing her.

5. Stosur - awful record at Wimbledon, which I put largely down to her extreme topspin grip and preference to be hitting balls from shoulder rather than knee height. Has told the Aussie press she will try a more aggressive game plan but I doubt there is much she can do to stop the tide.

6. Serena Williams - quadruple champion here but is the sun starting to set on her career? She was awful in Paris and hasn't played since, although a lead-in grass event hasn't featured often on her schedule. Shouldn't have too many worries in the first week, Zheng Jie in R3 followed by Errani or Safarova R4, but then it gets serious - Kvitova followed by Azarenka to reach the final. I think she'll fall along the way, but one thing to note in-running, never be afraid to back her if behind a set and a break or worse - you know there'll be a fightback you can trade profitably.

7. Wozniacki - hardly recognisable as the player who was number one not that long ago. Recent record is 5-5 and first up she faces Tamira Paszek who won Eastbourne last week.

8. Kerber - has already won more matches on grass this season than in any other year, and leads the women's tour with 40 match wins this calendar year. Could test Sharapova in the quarters, I see this girl securing a top five ranking soon and staying there. Makarova R2 will be a solid test on this surface.

9. Bartoli - finalist here several years ago and always capable of an extended run here…but just as capable of bombing out early. R3 will be tricky, facing the winner of Vinci and U.Radwanska, then she could face Wozniacki, followed by Azarenka. When she blows hot, none of those are unbeatable.

10. Errani - not on grass, her lack of power will count heavily against her.

11. Li - no warmup event this year but she is solid on every surface. Strikes the easiest quarter on paper, looks a decent trade to reach the semis.

14. Ivanovic - nuisance value/eye candy for the London tabloids. Goerges R3, Azarenka R4 - won't get past both of those.

15. Lisicki - quarter-finalist and semi-finalist at her last two appearances here, but hasn't won a match at her last four tournaments. Cetkovska R3, Sharapova R4 - she'll be gone early unless fit and firing 100% again.

18. Jankovic - long gone as a winning chance at Slams, only interest here is that she faces Clijsters first up.

21. Vinci - the longshot with a hope of going places. Plays a very different style to most women and ideally suited to grass. Hasn't done a huge amount here before, but with a bit of luck in the draw, she could go a few rounds.

Venus Williams - would love to see her back to her best here but doubt her body will ever allow that again.

Clijsters - admits her body isn't up to the strain of playing at the elite level anymore, she just wants to play at Wimbledon one last time. Might even be worth opposing in R1.

Pironkova - semi-finalist and quarter-finalist here in her past two appearances, beating, amongst others, Venus Williams both times. Not much form to show for her season, but that's not stopped her before. I backed her at 200/1 a few weeks ago, disappointed she is likely to meet Sharapova R2.

I like three bets here. Very keen on Sharapova for the title, I think she just might make the number one ranking her own for a while now.

Li Na looks tradeable at her current Betfair price of 38, with Serena & Kvitova in the same quarter, a big chunk of percentage in the market will have to go. Back now, lay back for a profit at the quarters or semis stage.

Roberta Vinci is the one at a huge price who could give a good run for your money. A few gold coins at 500+ might turn into several more if her quarter of the draw thins out as expected.

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