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Murray boosts Wimbledon betting turnovers

Wimbledon Tennis betting offers many more options than just the odds about who will win the tournament. The recent phenomenal success of 2013 Wimbledon hero Andy Murray has bolstered UK interest in gambling on the multitude of markets available for every match and tournament.

You may not see a row of bookmakers’ boards round Centre Court, more is the pity, but interest is definitely booming. Wimbledon may be terminally traditional, but the strict dress code and overall formality that kept Agassi away in his early years does not deter the public from wagering millions on individual games.

Even a first round encounter between little known players attracts hundreds of thousands of pounds in turnover. But, in June 2009, a first round match that did not have television coverage between America’s Wayne Odesnik and Mr Jurgen Melzer from Austria caused bookies’ alarm bells to ring as it attracted even more wagers than normal.

Online bookmakers quickly spotted the abnormal volumes and it was not just on a victory for Melzer, but for Melzer to win in straight sets. They smelt a rat and closed the betting before the match started.

Melzer won 6-1, 6-4, 6-2. When news of the unusual patterns broke, the British press was full of stories of suspected match fixing. Ultimately they discovered that Odesnik had travelled to the UK on the Saturday before the match and had been to O’Neill’s (a public house in Earls Court, London) at the weekend. He had suffered a muscle injury to his thigh prior to his match on Tuesday.

Odesnik was emphatic that no one had approached him in a bid to corrupt the outcome or profit from the match and vehemently denied any wrongdoing. He was not prosecuted. The bookmakers were pragmatic. It merely appeared that some of the betting public simply had more information than they did.

It was not the first and will not be the last time that undisclosed injuries are behind surprise results. In 2007 the Russian player, Nicolav Davydenko, who was then rated number four in the world, lost extremely unexpectedly to the relatively unknown Argentinian player, Martin Vassallo Arguello in Sopot, Poland. The result prompted allegations of match rigging but Davydenko disclosed that he had suffered an injury to his foot and, after a lengthy enquiry, in 2008 both players were cleared.

If you are not party to insider information on the health of tennis players, there are many other ways to win money on the Wimbledon tennis betting odds. Andrew Murray is certainly the best performer that Britain has had at Wimbledon for a very long time. Prior to his 2013 success the most recent British victor at Wimbledon had been the great Fred Perry back in 1936. For the mathematically challenged of you that is a 77-year wait.

UK bookmakers prospered from a massive demand turnover as patriotic punters placed a plethora of tournament and individual match winning bets on Murray when he reached the finals in 2012 and 2013. Such high volumes of partisan punting may distort the market and provide opportunities for more logical Wimbledon tennis betting elsewhere. Certainly that was true in 2012 when Roger Federer prevailed, but in 2013 starting the final as long as 13/8 to win, Murray did not let his partisan fans down. He beat Novak Djokovic without losing a set.

In January 2010 Murray fought his way to the final of a Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open in Melbourne. He had the misfortune to encounter an on form Roger Federer in the final. Murray lost in straight sets. Prior to that match, Murray had beaten Federer six of the ten times he had played him, but in the 2008 final of the US Open, Federer had, again, easily beaten Murray. It was Murray’s first Grand Slam final.

Back then if any UK potential punter was hoping that Murray stood a chance of beating Federer or Nadal at Wimbledon, after all, he had won the majority of matches against Federer prior to the Australian Open, think again. There were two major factors to bear in mind before succumbing to Murray mania and making your Wimbledon tennis bet on patriotic rather than logical lines.

Firstly, Federer was renowned for reserving his best efforts for the biggest matches in Grand Slam tournaments. Beating Federer in a Cincinatti Masters tournament is one thing. Stealing so much as a single set from him when he’s fired up and on form in the final at Wimbledon was quite another. Murray found that out in the 2012 final.

Secondly, tennis players have something in common with racehorses. Some perform better on one surface than others. Tim Henman, for example, was billed as a grass specialist and yes, his best results were on grass, but he sadly failed to score in the serious league on grass or anything else.

You can easily waste your money betting on the most highly-rated horse in a race, just because it is the most highly rated horse, if you forget that it has achieved all its wins (and consequently high rating) on good to firm going when, after a typical British week of persistent precipitation, the going for the race you are betting on has become soft. Similarly, there are certain horses that run brilliantly on turf but cannot reproduce the same level of performance on synthetic, all weather race tracks which provide a very different surface.

The same applies for tennis players. Not only do players, like horses, have to be able to move well on a surface, all tennis players will tell you that the surface of the court has a very significant influence on the speed and way in which the ball they are chasing bounces and spins whenever it touches the ground.

Looking back at Murray’s past form, for a long time he had only reached Grand Slam finals on hard courts and never on grass. Yes, Murray won Queens (which is on grass) in June 2009, but he didn’t exactly encounter the best opponents. He beat America’s James Blake in the final. The bearded Blake was ranked 16th in the world at the time and was the highest rated opponent Murray encountered in the entire tournament.

In the same year Murray met Andy Roddick in the semi-finals at Wimbledon and lost to the man whose lack of Grand Slam success is being blamed for a growing disaffection with tennis in the US.

In the previous year, 2008, Murray met Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and lost. It wasn’t much of a battle either. Nadal went on to win that year in an epic final that floored the mighty Federer.

With this form in mind it is extraordinary that, in March 2010, UK based bookmakers were offering Federer at 6/4 to win the tournament, Andrew Murray at 3-1 and Rafael Nadal at 4-1. Was this the result of partisan, patriotic punting or did the bookmakers know of extra damage to Nadal’s knees? As it turned out, Federer flopped and Nadal beat Murray in the semi-final. Nadal then went on to win his second Wimbledon title in 2010, beating the Czech and rank outsider Tomas Berdych in straight sets in the final.

In 2011 The Men’s Final was won by Novac Djokovic. He was the in-form player going into the championship but surely he could not defeat Nadal on grass? Despite being 11/8 to Nadal’s 4/7 to win the final, he did it with ease in four sets. It was Djokovic’s first Wimbledon Title and capped a fantastic run of form. The Women’s Title of that year witnessed a major turn-up when 2004 heroine Maria Sharapova, a long odds-on shot going into the final day to lift the trophy, was beaten in straight sets by the Czech 21-year-old Petra Kvitova.

Andy Murray made his major breakthrough in 2013 winning the US Open and then beating Djokovic to land that trophy at London, SW19.

So what has made Wimbledon the most prized scalp on the pro tennis players’ circuit? History is part of the appeal. First held in 1877, it is easily the world’s oldest tennis tournament and arguably the world’s most prestigious. It is the only one of the four Grand Slam tournaments to be held on grass, the original surface that gave ‘lawn tennis’ its name. Held over two weeks at the end of June and beginning of July, the tournament is a major feature of the UK’s sporting calendar. It is held at the All England Tennis and Croquet Club in the London suburb two weeks after the Queens Club Championships which are widely regarded as a Wimbledon warm-up. So what’s the betting Wimbledon Tennis is still going strong in another 150 years? It must be short odds with the bookies.

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