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Wimbledon Odds are Headlined by Favorites Djokovic, Williams

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The effect that Novak Djokovic’s seeming invincibility is having on Wimbledon betting odds is twofold.

On the one hand, as the first male tennis player to hold all four Grand Slam men’s singles titles at once since the legendary Rod Laver, Djokovic is an overwhelming -150 favorite to win Wimbledon at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com and continue his quest for the Grand Slam.

With the way the 29-year-old Serbian star has been mowing down opponents, though, there are also higher potential payouts on the odds for other challengers that appear at the All England Club during the upcoming fortnight.

Host-nation favorite Andy Murray is a nominal second favorite at +350 on the tennis betting board at the sportsbooks. Aging great Roger Federer, who could potentially face Djokovic in the semifinal, is listed at +1200.

For Djokovic to lose, it might take a combination of him being below peak form against an aggressive opponent with a big serve and go-for-broke attitude. That explains why sixth seed Milos Raonic (+1400) and No. 15 seed Nick Kyrgios (+2200) are relatively high on the board. Each has the arsenal to win a grass-court tournament and are familiar with Wimbledon.

Stan Wawrinka (+2500) is the most recent player to defeat Djokovic at a Grand Slam match. That was more than a year ago, in the 2015 French Open final.

The Wimbledon women’s champion board is topped, of course, by Serena Williams at +150. Williams has nemesis Roberta Vinci lurking as a quarterfinal matchup.

French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, listed at +550, comes in with a lot of hype. Few deny that Muguruza is on course to be the next big thing in women’s tennis, but it often takes a player time to adapt to the extra attention and heightened expectations that come after a player wins her first Grand Slam singles title.

For instance, Angelique Kerber (+2200) has struggled since winning her first Slam at the Australian Open. The draw, incidentally, is set up so that Muguruza would face Venus Williams (+5000) in the quarterfinal.

Petra Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion who also presents a tough matchup since she is a left-hander, is listed at +600. Kvitova has battled a persistent thigh injury in recent weeks, but always seems to elevate her game at Wimbledon.

Madison Keys (+1400), the 21-year-old American, has garnered valuable All England Club experience by reaching at least the third round for three consecutive years.

Venus Williams beats No. 1 Kerber in Miami Open quarters

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Venus Williams moved a step closer to her first Key Biscayne title since 2001 when she beat top-ranked Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-3 Wednesday night in the quarterfinals of the Miami Open.

It was Williams’ 15th career win against a No. 1 player, but her first since 2014. Seeded No. 11, she’s into the tournament’s semifinals for the first time in seven years.

Williams’ opponent Thursday night will be No. 10-seeded Johanna Konta, who became the first British woman to reach a semifinal in the tournament by beating No. 3 Simona Halep 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-2. No. 2 Karolina Pliskova will play No. 12 Caroline Wozniacki in the other semifinal.

Williams took charge of her quarterfinal match when Kerber double-faulted on the final two points of the opening set, and broke serve twice more early in the second set. She closed out the victory on her fifth match point with a backhand winner.

It was a matchup of offense against defense, with Williams the more aggressive player, charging the net often. Kerber stayed rooted to the baseline and was on the defensive even when she served, facing 13 break points and losing serve five times.

The German will remain No. 1 next week despite her loss. She reclaimed the top ranking this month after Indian Wells, replacing Serena Williams, who is sidelined by a knee injury.

Venus Williams improved to 61-13 at Key Biscayne, where she is making her 18th appearance. She won the title in 1998, 1999 and 2001 and considers the tournament her hometown event – she lives 90 minutes north in Palm Beach Gardens.

At 36, Williams was the oldest woman to enter the draw, but she hasn’t been taxed physically while winning every set in her four matches.

On the men’s side, Fabio Fognini became the first unseeded player in 10 years to reach the men’s semifinals at Key Biscayne when he beat 2016 runner-up Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-2. Fognini, 29, who matched his best showing in an ATP Masters 1000 event, will next play the winner of Wednesday night’s match between Rafael Nadal and Jack Sock.

Nishikori was seeded No. 2. Fognini improved to 9-44 against top-10 players, and became the first Italian man to reach a semifinal at Key Biscayne.

Historical marker for tennis great Tilden rejected again

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) A Pennsylvania panel once again rejected a historical marker for Philadelphia tennis great Bill Tilden.

Tilden became the first American to win Wimbledon in 1920 and also won seven U.S. championships. In 1950, The Associated Press voted him the greatest player of the first half of the century.

A year ago, a panel of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission that approves historical markers voted 4-1 against recommending approval of a marker at Philadelphia’s Germantown Cricket Club, citing Tilden’s convictions on charges involving teenage boys in the 1940s.

Karen Galle, coordinator of the historical marker program, confirmed Wednesday that the panel again voted 4-1 against approving the marker in February and that recommendation was among 54 approved by the commission at its March 22 meeting.

“While the significance of this athlete’s tennis career and talent are indisputable, his convictions for sexual misconduct with underage boys preclude recognition,” commission spokesman Howard Pollman said.

Lack of a marker doesn’t diminish Tilden’s accomplishments but approval “may be perceived to dishonor victims of sexual abuse,” Pollman said. Officials have cited the climate in the commonwealth following the sex abuse scandal involving another sports figure, Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky.

Tilden was arrested in Beverly Hills, California, in November 1946, after a 14-year-old boy was caught driving the star’s car erratically. Officers reported that when the teen exited the car, his pants zipper was down. Police charged Tilden with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and he served seven months in jail. He was arrested again in 1949 on allegations that he violated probation by being in the company of another teen boy, and that he groped a third teen. He served 10 months at a prison farm.

Tilden, born to a wealthy Philadelphia family, was featured regularly in magazines, newspapers and newsreels during his career. He was friends with Hollywood elite and played at the White House at the invitation of President Warren Harding. He’s credited with urging children of all economic backgrounds to learn tennis, once a sport only for the wealthy, and modern players still value his manuals on how to play.

After his convictions, Tilden’s Germantown membership was revoked, and his portrait was removed. In recent years, the club has begun to embrace Tilden’s memory, and a group of Philadelphians has been lobbying for a historical marker at the site.