Wimbledon betting preview: 8/1 Marin Cilic the man to tame Roger Federer

Wimbledon is almost upon us, so where should you be putting your cash? Our man Deggsy Bilton is here to help.

A decade on from the greatest men’s Wimbledon final of all-time, the big news from SW19 is that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal could do it all again in 2018.

Nadal won a stone cold classic over five sets in 2008 – a match no lesser judge than John McEnroe consistently describes as “the greatest match ever played” – and it is absolute madness to think that the same two protagonists are still ranked at number one and two in the world all these years later.

A 22-year-old Nadal fended off an astonishing fightback from the Swiss as darkness fell on Centre Court to eventually ping out a 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-7 (8-10) 9-7 win. It was the last of three straight Wimbledon finals played between the two, and unbelievably they’ve not met at the Championships since. Following Friday’s draw though, are the stars aligning this year?

The bookies certainly expect Federer to reach the business end, with the Fed Express no bigger than 7/4 to retain the title he won in style last year. However Rafa’s grass-court form has been iffy for a few years now, and I’d be wanting more than current 4/1 quotes about a Federer v Nadal final.

Indeed I actually feel Marin Cilic looks a bit of value at 8/1. The big-serving Croat is in Federer’s half, but won’t be fazed and will be hoping to build on his recent win at Queen’s.

Big Cilic has been consistent on grass for years now and has a perfect window of opportunity with Andy Murray only just coming back from injury, Novak Djokovic not at the level he once was, Federer’s crown on grass slipping (see Halle final defeat to Borna Coric) and injury doubts surrounding Alexander Zverev. Throw in Grigor Dimitrov’s poor form generally along with Nadal’s recent malaise on grass and there’s a strong case for backing Cilic.

There will of course he patriotic cash for Murray (30/1 if anyone is interested), but he’s clearly nowhere near the level he once was and given he’s in the same half of the draw as Djokovic, Zverev and Nadal it would take a monumental effort from the British No 2 to take this down.

Djokovic is fascinating. He’s finally starting to put it together again after nightmare spell and he looks the man most likely to come through a really tough side of the draw. A Cilic – Djokovic final is a 16/1 poke and looks too big when you factor in current form.

In the women’s event it’s easy to see why Petra Kvitova has been chalked up as the jolly. After all she is the first player (male or female) to win titles on hard, clay and grass courts in 2018. And her game matches up superbly on grass.

Big serve. Heavy groundies. Likes to go for her shots. For those punters who love a stat, she’s is also 17-0 in quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals this season. Put simply, every time she has reached the last eight of an event this year, she’s ended up winning. As the old adage goes, if you want to be taken seriously, be consistent.

However you can’t have any conversation about consistency at Wimbledon without talking about Serena Williams.

The seven-time singles champion will face Arantxa Rus in the first round and has controversially (in the eyes of many) been given a seeding of 25 this year despite being ranked outside of the world’s top 150. She’s also got a douzy or a draw and as a result is our pick to do the business at 6/1.

Serena has been bossing matters on Centre Court since the late 1990s and her longevity is quite remarkable. She is returning to the greatest grass-court tournament of them all for the first time since 2016 after missing it last year while pregnant, but showed enough at the recent French Open to suggest her fitness is good enough.

If her body holds up, nobody can get near her in terms of mental toughness and with such a kind draw she looks a cracking punt at 6/1. The advice for punters is get on quick, as the price simply won’t last.

Bilko’s Banker #1 – Marin Cilic to win Men’s Wimbledon title at 8/1 (Betfair/Paddy Power)
Bilko’s Banker #2 – Serena Williams to win Women’s Wimbledon title at 6/1 (bet365)
Best of the Rest: Name the Finalists – Cilic v Djokovic at 16/1 (Paddy Power)

Deggsy Bilton