The tennis season has arrived in Britain. The build-up for Wimbledon centres around Queen’s, which takes place this week in London.
The headline news ahead of the tournament was the return to action for Andy Murray. Murray has been suffering with injury over the last 12 months, which contributed to his first-round exit at Queen’s last season.
He is, however, the most successful player of all time at this event, having gone all the way on five occasions.
The Scot is very much an unknown quantity for this week. Rust is a certainty and backing him to lift the trophy for a sixth time is risky at best.
Now ranked outside the top 100 in the world, Murray also faces a tough path through the draw. Nick Kyrgios is his first-round opponent, and fellow Brit Kyle Edmund will likely await Murray in the last 16 should he make it past the charismatic Australian.
Edmund is certainly a better bet than Murray. The 23-year-old is ranked in the top 20 and seeded seventh for Queen’s. He suffered a disappointing grass court season in 2017, but the Johannesburg-born right-hander has come on leaps and bounds over the last 12 months.
Murray is, depending on his fitness, due to be his greatest test in the draw, as he should easily make it past Jack Harrison in the first round.
It’s not just about the Brits, of course. This is an immensely strong draw. Marin Cilic and Grigor Dimitrov take the one and two seeds respectively and bookend the brackets. Cilic is the easiest guy to back.
The world number five reached the final at Queen’s and Wimbledon in 2017 but went on to lose both of them. The value just isn’t there for Cilic, though, even if his chances of making the semi-finals are great.
Dimitrov has a potential second round matchup with wildcard entrant and former world number one, Novak Djokovic. The Serbian is no more than a shadow of his former self and will be the underdog if he faces Dimitrov.
The Bulgarian is obviously a serious contender for the Queen’s title, and a decent outside bet to win Wimbledon.
Djokovic’s name will warrant a fair few people backing him though. The hope of a return to his former glories, however, has shown to be little more than that. Until there’s an indication he can get close to his past game, even a longshot bet isn’t worthwhile.
Elsewhere, a couple of big servers could offer some value. American Sam Querrey and South African Kevin Anderson should supposedly benefit from their seedings and can blow anyone away on a grass court with their power.
Queen’s is set up to be a fantastic tournament. It might only be a small 32-man field, but there is an array of the world’s biggest names.
Veterans like Stan Wawrinka and Djokovic returning from injury, along with the home favourites, mean there’s plenty we could find out about over the next few days.
Picking a winner is tough, but Dimitrov offers the best value in this field, while Edmund is a longer odds option.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*