Wimbledon odds for men’s draw have Federer favored over Nadal

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Incumbency bias might somewhat account for the disparity in odds on men’s tennis titans Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in Wimbledon betting futures.

Federer, who has won the Grand Slam championship in London a mind-bending eight times, is listed as the +150 favorite on the Wimbledon men’s champion betting futures, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Nadal, who has split the last six Grand Slam titles with Federer 3-3, is the second favorite at +500.

Thanks to his superior record on grass courts, Federer is the No. 1 seed with Nadal at No. 2 on the opposite side of the draw, which is the inverse of their overall rankings.

It is understandable if bettors want to stick by the seemingly ageless wonder Federer, who skipped the clay court season to focus his energy on dominating on grass at the All England Club. However, it’s worth remembering that upsets and injuries to upper-echelon players aided his path to the 2017 championship and the law of averages would suggest that’s unlikely to happen twice in a row.

Nadal has not made a Wimbledon final since 2011 but getting the No. 1-ranked player at 5-to-1 odds has some high-risk, high-reward appeal.

Beyond the big two, a good tack for bettors seeking value might be drawing a bead on results rather than reputation – the big names who go high on the board. Novak Djokovic (+650) is getting some respect on the tennis odds, but the elbow problem that cut his 2017 season short makes him a chancy pick.

Alexander Zverev (+800) has had minimal grass-court time this spring, while home-country rooting interest Andy Murray (+900) has also been contending with injury problems.

Value-minded bettors might want to look at 2017 Wimbledon finalist Marin Cilic (+1200), who won the Queen’s Club tune-up tournament (in a bit of foreshadowing, he was the 2017 runner-up before having the same result at Wimbledon). Juan Martin del Potro (+1200) has not played on grass this season, but the hulking Argentinian has beaten Federer this season and, as the No. 5 seed, should be on the same side of the draw.

Inconsistency probably strikes taking a flier on either Nick Kyrgios (+1600) or Grigor Dimitrov (+2000) on the 2018 Wimbledon odds while Milos Raonic (+2000) has also been injury-prone over the last year.

Wimbledon begins at the All England Club on Monday, with the women’s final scheduled for July 14, followed by the men’s final on July 15.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Federer stretches winning streak on grass to 17 in Halle

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HALLE, Germany (AP) Roger Federer opened his Gerry Weber Open title defense by seeing off Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia 6-3, 6-4 on Tuesday.

The world No. 1 broke the No. 72nd-ranked Bedene at the first attempt and again for 5-4 in the second set to wrap up the win.

Fresh from winning his 18th grass-court title in Stuttgart on Sunday, Federer dropped just four points on his serve and forced seven break opportunities, taking two.

Federer made his comeback in Stuttgart after skipping the entire clay-court season for the second year in a row, and again he looked sharp as he extended his grass-court winning streak to 17 matches including his titles at Halle and Wimbledon last year.

The Swiss great is just five match wins away from matching Jimmy Connors’ all-time record of 174 victories on grass. Federer’s winning percentage is better, with 169 wins and 24 loses compared to Connors’ record of 174-34.

Federer is bidding for a record-extending 10th title in Halle, which would be his fourth of the season and 99th overall.

Also, Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece upset the fifth-seeded Lucas Pouille 6-2, 7-6 (3), and former title winner Philipp Kohlschreiber progressed against Marton Fucsovics.

There were also first-round wins for Florian Mayer, Matthew Ebden, Karen Khachanov, and Benoit Paire.

With 11th French, Nadal not obsessed with Federer’s 20 Slams

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PARIS (AP) Rafael Nadal’s 11th French Open title raised his Grand Slam trophy count to 17, three away from the men’s record held by Roger Federer.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Nadal is fixated on catching his rival.

“Of course I would love to have 20, like Roger, in the future – or even more,” Nadal said Sunday evening after beating Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 in the final at Roland Garros, “but being honest, (it’s) something that is not in my mind.”

He added that it’s not an “obsession.”

“Let me enjoy this title,” Nadal said. “I can’t be always thinking of more. Of course, I have ambition. Of course, I have passion for what I am doing. But I never have been crazy about all this kind of stuff. No, you can’t be frustrated always if somebody has more money than you, if somebody have a bigger house than you, if somebody have more Grand Slams than you. You can’t live with that feeling, no?”

Nadal’s uncle, Toni, who used to also be his coach, attended Sunday’s match and was asked afterward whether Rafael can pull even with Federer.

“I want to think that is possible,” Toni said. “But I know (that) maybe in one month, Federer will win again Wimbledon.”

Federer, of course, sat out the French Open to rest and prepare for the grass-court season. He did the same a year ago, and then went on to claim his record eighth championship at the All England Club, where play begins July 2.

The only man with more titles at a single major is Nadal in Paris. He is now 86-2 at the French Open – and, by the looks of things, as good as ever at the place.

Here are other things we learned at the 2018 French Open:

HALEP CAN WIN THE BIG ONE

After losing her first three Grand Slam finals, Simona Halep added major championship No. 1 to her No. 1 ranking by coming back to defeat Sloane Stephens in three sets. Halep kept insisting she needed to do it, and could do it – and she was correct. “Now she can relax, go out there, let her game go,” said her coach, Darren Cahill.

SERENA STILL SUPERB

At her first major in 16 months, and first as a mother, Serena Williams showed with three victories that she still has the game and the grit to go far and – even at age 36 – could be a threat to add to her 23 major titles. She withdrew from the field before her much-anticipated fourth-rounder against Maria Sharapova, citing a chest muscle injury, so it’s not clear whether Williams will be someone to watch at Wimbledon.

NOT THEIR TIME YET

Runner-up Thiem, a 24-year-old from Austria, might very well be the second-best player on clay in the world, but there’s still a large gap, at least at Roland Garros, where he is 0-3 against Nadal. Thiem and the man he beat in the quarterfinals, 21-year-old Alexander Zverev of Germany, are the two most well-rounded rising stars in the game. The question is when each will be ready for the next step.

AMERICAN WOMEN

Before her loss to Halep, Stephens, 25, eliminated Madison Keys, 23, in the first all-American semifinal at the French Open since 2002, when Williams defeated Jennifer Capriati. “All in all,” Stephens said, “I don’t think anyone can complain.” It was also a rematch of last year’s U.S. Open final, in which Stephens topped Keys. For all the hand-wringing in years past over what would happen to U.S. women’s tennis after the Williams sisters, they seem to be in pretty good shape. Plus, consider this: Coco Gauff, a 14-year-old from Florida, beat Caty McNally, a 16-year-old from Ohio, in the junior final, the fourth time at the last five Grand Slam tournaments that two Americans played each other for the girls’ title.

DON’T LEAVE!

One important lesson from this French Open: If you fail to make it out of qualifying, do not skip town. Thanks to a new rule that awards some prize money to players making late injury withdrawals, more than a half-dozen men got into the draw as a “lucky loser” to replace those who pulled out. None of the beneficiaries was more celebrated than 190th-ranked Marco Trungelliti. He headed home to Barcelona after being beaten in qualifying, then learned he could sign up for a spot in the field. So he made the 10-hour drive back to Paris with his 88-year-old grandmother, mother and younger brother in a rental car, then went out and won in the first round.

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

More AP tennis coverage: https://www.apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis