Roger Federer vs. Rafa Nadal 2019 Wimbledon Betting Odds, Preview: Get the Popcorn Ready

Roger Federer vs. Rafa Nadal 2019 Wimbledon Betting Odds, Preview: Get the Popcorn Ready article feature image

Geoff Burke, USA Today Sports.

  • Rafael Nadal is a -135 favorite over Roger Federer in the 2019 Wimbledon Semifinals on Friday, July 12.
  • Our tennis analysts break down the match and make their case for finding value on the match.

After a very chalky betting tournament leading up to the semifinals, the men’s side of the draw can now finally begin at Wimbledon. And what a final four we have — with all three of the winningest men’s Slam champions still alive.

The popcorn semifinal on Friday will feature Roger Federer, who’s looking for his 21st career major and ninth overall at the All England Club, against Rafael Nadal, who will try to get to within one of Fed on the all-time Slam list.

Some may be surprised that Federer opened as an underdog  and two of our tennis analysts couldn’t have disagreed more on which player is the better value for tomorrow’s match.

So, we wanted each to make their case to help any bettors out there that might be sitting on the fence as to who they should back. Let’s start with the case for the betting favorite, Rafael Nadal.

The Case For Betting Rafael Nadal -135

By: Daniel Scotti

I certainly expected Roger to open as the favorite ahead of this match, but I’m not that shocked that the King of Clay is favored over the most-prolific player in Wimbledon history.

In three of the last four hard-court matches played between these giants, it’s been Nadal priced between -140 and -160 (Shanghai, Indian Wells twice and Miami) — and Roger went on to win all four.

But Friday will pose a new challenge, at least in recent times, namely, the first grass match played between the pair since 2008 — when Rafa beat Roger in the final (arguably the most epic match of all-time), after losing to Fed in the two preceding finales at the All England Club.

And, at this point in their careers, I think the grass may actually suit Rafa more than it does Roger. Over the past couple of years, Rafa has approached the grass court much differently than he did back in, say, 2008.

  • We’ve seen Rafa more aggressive off the back-hand wing, which was on full display in his quarterfinal match against Sam Querrey.
  • We’ve seen Rafa look to get to net, specifically, by way of serve and volley — which he pulled out in key moments of big matches last year, against Juan Martin del Potro and Novak Djokovic.
  • And Rafa’s done an impeccable job taking care of his service games throughout this tournament.

Now, what’s most interesting to me is the psychological aspect of this match.

Throughout the illustrious rivalry, it’s generally been Rafa with a slight mental edge … until that 2017 Aussie Open Final. I knew, at the time, how significant that match would be in the grand scheme of their rivalry, providing a benchmark for the rivalry’s twilight years.

And by the time those five sets were done and dusted in Melbourne, it looked like Roger snatched Rafa’s soul, just a bit.

And it continued for their next three meetings — all of which went to Roger … in straight sets.

But all of those matches came on hard courts. So, I find myself thinking about just how important Rafa’s victory over Roger at Roland Garros this year was. All credit to Roger for giving the clay a go, but, by doing so, he allowed Nadal to impose his masterclass on his rival, tuck an important win under his belt — and perhaps gain the edge once again in the mental war.

When both bring their A games, Rafa wins, for me, on every surface. Facing off in a semifinal on Centre Court at Wimbledon? It’s hard to not expect both to bring their A games. So, that leaves me with Rafa advancing to the final..

Nadal’s on-the-run banana forehand has looked sharp over the past week, and that’s always been the shot that has given Fed fits. We’ve seen it time and time again: Roger hits a big backhand crosscourt, a ball he hits for a winner against most right-handed players, but Rafa somehow runs it down and sends it up the line for a winner.

If Rafa stays sharp on serve, and picks the right spots to get to net, he should win this match. Not to mention, I think Nadal has looked crisper this tournament, in general.

I can’t wait.

My Pick: Rafael Nadal -135

The Case For Betting Roger Federer

By Sean Zerillo

It’s lovely to hark back to the, “greatest match ever?!” emotions that still emanate from the 2008 Men’s Singles Final at Wimbledon between Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal – but it’s also irrelevant.

Both men are far different players than they were 11 years ago – with either of their games adapting and evolving around their abilities, injuries and experience — as they’ve met 22 times in various tour events since.

While Nadal owns a 24-15 career head-to-head advantage, that’s slightly misleading. The King of Clay is 14-2 against Federer on clay compared to 10-13 on all other surfaces.

Prior to his smooth 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Federer in windy conditions in the semifinal at Roland Garros on June 7, Nadal dropped five straight matches to Roger on hard courts between 2015-2017.

In majors, Nadal is 7-0 at the French Open against his biggest rival, 3-1 in Australia (Federer won most recently in 2017), and 1-2 at Wimbledon. But the pair haven’t played on grass since three consecutive meetings at the All England Club between 2006 and 2008.

Nadal has appeared to be the man in better form throughout Wimbledon, only dropping a set to Nick Kyrgios, but Sam Querrey had some success in the return game against Nadal in the quarterfinals, generating seven break points (converting one).

After a rough first set in his own quarterfinal against Kei Nishikori, Federer raised his level in the second set and never relented. He cannot afford the same slow start against the Spainaird here.

Throughout the tournament, many players have noted how the Wimbledon courts are playing slower than in years past. And after two weeks worth of getting stomped upon, these grass courts have now slowed down even more.

A slower court would directly increase Nadal’s chances here by neutralizing some of Federer’s power.

Alternatively, if rain caused the roof to be closed, the increased speed and neutralized weather conditions should benefit the Swiss legend. (As of now, there is no rain in the forecast for Saturday.)

The grass is still Federer’s best surface, and this year’s Wimbledon is probably his best remaining chance to win another Slam.

While I had Federer pegged as about a -130 favorite in this matchup, he opened as a +110 underdog and the line has moved against him to +120. I think that opener and subsequent move comes down to three factors:

  1. Nadal’s impressive form at Wimbledon
  2. His easy recent win over Federer in Paris
  3. Concern about these slower courts aiding Nadal.

However, passing up plus-money on the GOAT, and the king of grass on his favorite court, seems unwise.

To win, Federer will need to consistently hit his spots in his service games and pick the right opportunities to move forward. Nadal can run around all day, so the longer rallies should benefit the Spaniard.

I’m sitting on a future involving Federer and Novak Djokovic to both reach the final at +300 (which would only pay about +144 if you parlayed them now), but I do see value on the Swiss in this semi-final and would look to take him on the moneyline if I didn’t already have a vested interest.

My Pick: Federer +120

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