One Year On: The Split-Set Shockers of Wimbledon 2017

Sometimes, the world cannot help but marvel at the majesty of the world’s greatest players. Although few bat an eyelid in the earlier rounds, as unseeded players fall to champions, there are some kings of the sport that go beyond all expectation. Last year, Roger Federer romped to victory at Wimbledon without dropping a single set, but his mastery was of little use to those seeking a high payout in tennis betting.

Invariably, far better odds are available for a favourite to win in split sets, but even those odds will be eclipsed by the ones available for a split-sets win in favour of the underdog. The 2017 edition of Wimbledon saw three matches – one ATP and two WTA – that went to the final set and saw an unseeded underdog triumph, yielding an exceptionally high payout.

ATP – Aljaz Bedene

Section 3 of the 2017 men’s bracket saw a major upset, with unseeded Aljaz Bedene eliminating Ivo Karlovic (#21). He was a giant killer who commanded very long odds for a split-sets win prior to the start. However, it would have taken someone with an expert eye for upsets to get anything significant out of that match.

From a neutral perspective, everything was perfect. The two men, each representing their own quarter of Eastern Europe exchanged sets settled by tiebreaker (7-6), with Bedene winning every second set, and the winner of the latter two required nine points to take the set. Ultimately, it was Bedene’s excellent anticipation of Karlovic’s powerful returns that enabled him to finish the match on 4 hours, 24 minutes, winning the final set 8-6.

Bedene ended 2017 with a good grass record of 4 wins, 2 losses. On a personal level, it was a first ‘winning’ year for him on that famously fast-paced surface. It is a record that bodes reasonably well for the upcoming edition of Wimbledon, and his odds against seeded players are set to remain steady in the markets for tennis betting at William Hill. Despite this, his most recent grass outing came at ATP Hergotenbosch, losing to Marius Copil via two tiebreakers (6-7, 7-6) and a 6-3 humbling in the final set.

A Copil serve.

WTA – Arina Rodionova & Viktorija Golubic

Three was also a magic number in the women’s championship. Section 3 produced two shocks. First came Viktorija Golubic’s defeat of Zhang Shuai (seeded #30). Golubic won the first set 6-3, and though beaten in the second, the Swiss-born Serbian proved her mettle by taking Zhang all the way to a tiebreaker.

The third set was a veritable stroll for Golubic, with a 6-1 win seeing her through. However, the real shock of the day came when unseeded Arina Rodionova sent #16 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova crashing out. Pavlyuchenkova’s mobility is her greatest asset, but after being beaten 6-3 in the first game, Rodionova produced a game-reading masterclass.

Rodionova proved equal to anything that came her way, and won the following set via a tiebreaker, before an unbelievable climax, which saw her win out 9-7. Ahead of Wimbledon 2018, Golubic and Rodionova are ranked 99th and 108th respectively.

Though relatively untested on grass, Golubic has never finished a year with more grass defeats than wins, ending up with a 2-1 record last year from matches played as part of a major tournament. Meanwhile, Rodionova went 1-1 on grass in 2017, and will approach Wimbledon on the back of a grass defeat to Irina Falconi at WTA Nottingham.