Karolina Pliskova

Wimbledon: Federer, Kvitova highlight odds for tournament

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It’s as much about the draw as the player in a Grand Slam tournament, and Roger Federer seems to have a favorable path through the draw at Wimbledon. The Swiss great is listed as the +200 favorite on the 2017 Wimbledon men’s champion futures board at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Federer has been enjoying a renaissance this season, with an Australian Open title and a win in a Wimbledon warm-up grass-court event in Halle, Germany. Top-seeded Andy Murray (+350) will be the second favorite on the ATP tennis odds at the All England Club, while fellow high seeds Rafael Nadal (+400) and Novak Djokovic (+600) round out  the top of the board.

If Federer goes down, it might not comes at the hands of one of his Big Four counterparts – each of whom is a problematic play, by the way. Federer’s biggest threat in his quadrant of the draw is probably big-hitting 20-year-old Alexander Zverev (+2000), who’s going to win a Grand Slam title one of these days. Milos Raonic (+1400) is also there but his form and fitness have been off of late.

Murray has been contending with a hip injury and has a familiar nemesis, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (+6600), in his quarter of the draw.

Nadal, infamously, has his greatest difficulties on grass, where he’s won only 10 times since 2012. That’s why he’s the fourth seed. Hulking Marin Cilic (+1600) is the smart high-payoff pick within that quarter of the draw. He’s 1-4 lifetime against Federer (whom he could only meet in the final), but anyone who’s beaten a No. 1 player once knows it can happen again.

Djokovic has had a drop-off in his game and was blown away in the French Open quarter-finals, but he tends to come back strongly at Wimbledon when he doesn’t fare well at Roland Garros. However, he faces a potential third-round match against pesky Juan Martin del Potro (+2800). Feliciano Lopez (+10000), who won the Queen’s tune-up tournament, is also lurking.

One should keep in mind that if Federer winning seems like an inevitability, betting on semifinalists is an alternative but the prices will be shorter.

On the women’s side, Czech countrywomen Petra Kvitova (+500) and Karolina Pliskova (+550) are very close at the top of the board. Kvitova’s price is too short, especially since she is just back from recovering from a knife attack and was limited by an abdominal injury – a symptom of not being in peak condition, perhaps – at the Eastboune warm-up tournament. Pliskova, with her powerful serve, might be a better play.

Garbine Muguruza (+900) has been struggling with her confidence and Angelique Kerber (+1400) also has a mental game that’s in a shambles, while No. 2 seed Simona Halep (+2000) struggles on grass. The value plays on the WTA tennis odds are likely French Open runner-up Jelena Ostapenko (+1400) and Caroline Garcia (+6600). Garcia is in the same quadrant of the draw as Kvitova and has beaten her twice in a row.

Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Venus Williams win at Indian Wells

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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Rafael Nadal defeated Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 7-5 in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday for his 50th career victory at the desert tournament.

Nadal closed out the 1 1/2-hour match in 95-degree (35 C) heat with a forehand winner. The three-time tournament champion will next face Roger Federer in the Round of 16 after Federer dispatched American Steve Johnson in straight sets.

Nadal won 80 percent of his first-serve points and three of five break points. Verdasco, who won eight straight points for a 3-2 lead in the second set, had seven double faults.

Venus Williams advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2001 with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 victory over Shuai Peng, the last remaining qualifier in the draw. She had 40 winners, 40 unforced errors and won the final four games of the match after trailing 3-2.

Williams ended her 15-year boycott of the event last year, when she lost in the second round.

In other women’s matches, No. 3 seed Karolina Pliskova advanced when 15th-seeded Timea Bacsinszky retired trailing 5-1 in the first set; No. 19 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova outlasted No. 5 Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 3-6, 6-3; and No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova beat 21st-seeded Caroline Garcia.

On the men’s side, No. 4 seed Kei Nishikori routed 25th-seeded Gilles Muller 6-2, 6-2; American Donald Young defeated 14th-seeded Lucas Pouille 6-4, 1-6, 6-3; and Malek Jaziri got by American Taylor Fritz 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Heather Watson advances at BNP Paribas Open

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Indian Wells, Calif. — Britain’s Heather Watson beat American Nicole Gibbs 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 on Wednesday in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open.

Watson will face No. 11 Johanna Konta in the second round.

Former No. 1 Martina Hingis and double partner Yung-Jan Chan beat Raquel Atawo and Yifan Xu 6-1, 6-4.

China’s Qiang Wang, ranked No. 60, won one of the tightest matches of the day, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 over Ukraine’ Kateryna Bondarenko. Wang will play No. 10 Elina Svitolina in the next round.

Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig would have faced Serena Williams after beating American Danielle Collins 6-0, 6-2, but Williams pulled out Tuesday because of knee issues. Puig will face No. 3 Karolina Pliskova.

Sweden’s Elias Ymer may have had the upset of the day with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in men’s qualifying play. Ymer is No. 158 in the ATP ranking, and Nishioka 70th.