Tennis / Reaction / Winning The Hard Way

Winning the Hard Way?

Andy Murray joined Novak Djokovic in dropping a set in the first round of Wimbledon but was this just loss of concentration or is it a clear indication that the pair are not yet ready to challenge at SW19?

Novak Djokovic

Since the start of 1990 14 top four seeds have dropped at least one set in winning their first round matches. The bad news for Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray is that the last eight players to do so, back to Pete Sampras’ loss to Richard Krajicek in the quarter-finals in 1996, all failed to live up to their seedings – including Djokovic himself last year. In fact only two of these eight made it as far as the quarter-finals with five losing in either the second or third rounds.

Further back and there is some cause for hope for the number four seed as the previous six players all made at least the semis with two players advancing to the final where they went on to lift the trophy. However, each of these players is a tennis legend and had been highly successful grass court players. The players and years they dropped a set in their opening round are Stefan Edberg (Winner ’90), Ivan Lendl (SF ’90), Pete Sampras (Winner ’93), Boris Becker (SF ’93), Stefan Edberg (SF ’93), Pete Sampras (Winner ’95).

By 1990 Edberg had won two Australian Opens on grass and had been champion and runner-up in the previous two years at Wimbledon. By 1993 Lendl was a two-time Wimbledon finalist; Sampras had made the semis the previous year and went on to win seven Wimbledon titles; while Becker had claimed three titles and been runner-up three times in the previous eight championships at SW19.

In contrast Djokovic’s Wimbledon record from 2005 to 2008 is 3rd Rd, 4th Rd, SF, 2nd Rd. Murray's record over the same period is 3rd Rd, 4th Rd, DNP, QF.

Furthermore, the last six third or fourth seeds to drop a set in their opening match have all failed to make the semis with just Marat Safin – who made the quarters in ’01 – making it past the third round.

Next up for Djokovic is German qualifier Simon Greul while a potential third round encounter with Mardy Fish could follow. After that it would be expected to find last years semi-finalist Rainer Schuettler in round four before a likely quarter-final against Tommy Haas – who beat Djokovic in the recent Halle final – or the big serving Croat, Marin Cilic.

Andy Murray's next opponent is the big serving Latvian Ernests Gulbis, and his expected route to the semis would then be Viktor Troicki, Stanislas Wawrinka, and either Fernando Gonzalez or Gilles Simon in the quarter-finals.

Djokovic can currently be sold at 34 on the Men’s Outright Index which would provide a profit should he lose before the semis (Winner – 100 points, Losing Finalist – 70, Semi-Finalist – 50, Quarter-Finalist – 33, Last 16 – 20, Else – 0). Alternatively he can currently be layed on Betfair at 2.4. However with a qualifier up next we would expect him to advance and look to lay him when his price comes back to about 2.1 to win the quarter.

Murray can be sold at 54 on the Index and layed at 1.35 to win his quarter on Betfair.

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