After setting the stage for the men’s draw yesterday, we’re switching to the ladies today. Women’s tennis right now is as unpredictable as it’s ever been, and Wimbledon 2017 (July 3 – 10) is really anyone’s to win.
Defending champion Serena Williams will miss yet another Grand Slam due to pregnancy and Maria Sharapova will miss the entire grass-court season due to injury. So, just like in the recent French Open (which was won by unseeded 20-year-old Jelena Ostapenko), we have a wide-open tournament.
The favorites right now are a mix of former Grand Slam winners and young whippersnappers.
Despite never having advanced past the second round at Wimbledon, Karolína Plíšková opens as the favorite to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish. Her breakout moment came late last year when she reached the final of the US Open. This season, she’s reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open and the semis at the French.
Plíšková is improving almost every time she steps on the court and a first Grand Slam victory would be a huge milestone for her. Without Serena Williams defending her title, this is as good a chance as she’ll get.
A violent robbery late last year left Petra Kvitová with some serious injuries and completely derailed her 2017 season. Fortunately, she recovered quicker than expected and was able to make a last-minute decision to enter the French Open.
She only managed to reach the second round at Roland Garros, but she’ll be back in her groove by the time Wimbledon rolls around, and the two-time winner stands a great chance against the weakened competition. She’s already through to the semis at the Birmingham Classic, defeating no. 5 seed Kristina Mladenovic in straight sets in the quarters.
Garbiñe Muguruza climbed up to no. 2 in the world rankings last year, but a slump in form caused her to drop down to 14th. Outside of a quarterfinals appearance at the Australian Open, this year has been filled with more disappointment.
The 2016 French Open-winner is most comfortable on clay, but she has thrived at Wimbledon in the past, reaching the finals back in 2015.
Venus Williams may be 37 years old, but the seven-time Grand Slam is experiencing a bit of a resurgence. She excelled at the Australian Open this year, reaching the finals for just the second time in her career. And she’s gone on to grab decent results at the Miami and Italian Opens.
The five-time Wimbledon winner hasn’t won the event in almost a decade, but she did manage to reach the semifinal last year. She’ll be looking for her first Grand Slam win in nine years.
After reaching the finals at the French Open in early June, Halep is a frontrunner for the no. 1 ranking, but her chances at Wimbledon took a hit after she sustained an ankle injury. Initially, she planned to forgo the warm-up tournaments before Wimbledon in order to fully recover. It looks like she’ll be accepting a wild-card entry to Eastbourne, however.
We’ll have to wait and see how she holds up. If she’s back in full form, she’s got a real chance of winning her first Grand Slam.
It’s been a chaotic year for women’s tennis. Who would’ve guessed that Ostapenko, an unseeded player with a mediocre record, would go on to win the French Open? Without Williams or Sharapova, there really isn’t a clear favorite.
Plíšková has the shortest odds, but I don’t think her performances this year warrant a 6/1 price. Also, Garbiñe Muguruza at 12/1 is too steep given her form right now.
Williams had a great run at the Australian Open, but as the season drags on, I think her age will show. Halep has a nice payout at 19/1, yet we don’t know just how bad her ankle injury is.
Out of the main Wimbledon contenders, I’m inclined to side with Kvitova. A knife-wielding criminal may have ruled her out for most of the season, but now she’s back and in great form. Her poor performance at the French Open was understandable after a six-month absence. By the time Wimbledon swings around, she should be back to her usual self. At 9/1, there’s good value on the Czech native.
Pick: Petra Kvitova 9/1
Photo credit: Carine 06 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0]
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