ATP Wimbledon Quarterly Betting Preview: Can Nadal Reverse Recent History?
Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Rafael Nadal.
In recent years, Rafael Nadal hasn’t enjoyed much success at Wimbledon. The “King of Clay” has not advanced past the fourth round since 2011. Last year, he endured a tough loss as a -1000 favorite against Gilles Muller — despite hitting 77 winners to just 17 unforced errors.
It’s hard to ignore some of Nadal’s losses at Wimbledon — and his respective odds. In 2015, the Spaniard went down as a -900 favorite to Dustin Brown. That loss came a year after Nick Kyrgios burst onto the scene to defeat Nadal, who was a -1600 favorite at the time. (Fortunately, I had a bet on Kyrgios.)
Both of those came after arguably his worst Wimbledon defeat, as a -10000 favorite in 2013 against Steve Darcis. And, lest we forget, the Lukas Rosol match of 2012, when the Spaniard lost (again) as a -10000 favorite.
Nadal opted not to play any grass tuneups, instead prepping for Wimbledon back home in Mallorca, Spain. I like that decision from Nadal, who should be fresh and composed to deal with a relatively weak quarter. If he can avoid another early shocker, I think he can carry over some momentum from his 11th French Open title.
Let’s take a deeper dive into this quarter of the draw by looking at notable head-to-head records, first-round nuggets and futures value.
Nadal Head-to-Head vs. Seeds
- 10-5 vs. Juan Martin del Potro
- 3-1 vs. David Goffin
- 6-0 vs. Diego Schwartzman
- 4-0 vs. Jack Sock
- 11-3 vs. Fabio Fognini
- 1-1 vs. Denis Shapovalov
- 0-0 vs. Marco Cecchinato
Nadal owns an impressive 35-9 record against the other seeds in his quarter. The only grass meetings came against del Potro, who lost both to Nadal.
Key Head-to-Head Records
- Andy Murray 7-3 vs. del Potro
- Del Potro 4-3 vs. Feliciano Lopez
- Nadal 17-7 vs. Murray
Nadal also won his previous meetings on grass against Murray (unseeded this year) — all at Wimbledon (2008, 2010, 2011).
Potential First-round Popcorn Matches
- Murray vs. Benoit Paire
- Jeremy Chardy vs. Shapovalov
- Chardy: (1R: Shapovalov, 2R: Murray/Paire, 3R: Del Potro/Lopez, 4R: Goffin, QF: Nadal)
Unseeded Grass Specialists
- Lopez: 77-40 career record on grass; 17-11 past three years; three titles
Potential Parlay Pieces
- Alex de Minaur (-220) vs. Cecchinato (+170)
- Lopez (-833) vs. Federico Delbonis (+500)
- Sock (-143) vs. Matteo Berrettini (+110)
- Pablo Cuevas (TBD) vs. Simone Bolelli [LL] (TBD)
- Goffin (-222) vs. Matthew Ebden (+170)
- Gilles Simon (-333) vs. Nikoloz Basilashvili (+275)
- Murray (-222) vs. Paire (+170)
- Chardy (-143) vs. Shapovalov (+110)
This part of the draw features plenty of potential upsets. Sock is a perennial first-round Grand Slam loser. Goffin, who looks to rally from the baseline, could struggle on the grass against the serve-and-volley of Ebden.
Murray will also have his hands full with the backhand of Paire, but we’ll see if the Frenchman can keep it together for three of five sets. And I like the big-match mentality of Shapovalov in a contest that should feature some pretty rallies between the Chardy forehand and the Shapo backhand.
Despite his recent struggles here, I think Nadal holds value at even money to come through this quarter. Nadal has — and I can’t emphasize this enough — a very favorable draw. As you saw from the portion above, his quarter has plenty of vulnerable favorites.
The seeded players in Rafa’s half of the quarter include Cecchinato (vastly inexperienced on grass courts), Fognini (hardly a grass-courter and has injury concerns) and Schwartzman (who’s never won a tour-level grass match). Nadal’s path to the second week looks rather manageable.
As I mentioned in the broader tournament preview, Nadal can do a lot more damage in the second week given the nature of the surface. Wimbledon often plays out as a tale of two tournaments, with the first week playing significantly faster than the second as the worn grass turns more into dirt.
Just take a look at Nadal’s projected path:
- Dudi Sela
- Vasek Pospisil/Mikhail Kukushkin
- De Minaur/Mischa Zverev
- Del Potro
If Nadal can weather his first few matches (which appears likely), he’ll grow in this tournament. And I think, come the second week, he can test the likes of Novak Djokovic or Nick Kyrgios or Sascha Zverev in the semis and, potentially, Roger Federer in the final.
Outside of Nadal, a potential longshot punt for dice-rollers could be Shapovalov, who — despite his recent grass results — was thought to play his best tennis on the lawn. The Canadian has already proven his prowess on the big stage. At 16-1, you can’t deny his value, especially after he defeated Nadal last year at the Rogers Coupe. If he can get through a tough first-round matchup with Chardy, look out.
That said, I fancy Rafa’s chances of winning this quarter.
Quarter Bets to Watch: Nadal +100 and Shapovalov +1600
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