Jarkko Nieminen v Lleyton Hewitt (Monday)
Two of the old warriors of the game slug it out on Monday in what should be an enthralling tie. This will be the Australian Hewitt’s final Wimbledon as he plans to retire after the 2016 Australian Open and it might be a good idea to go with sentiment here at odds of 1.62.
To be honest, both players are fading but first round defeats in the warm-up tournaments of Hergonbesch and Halle don’t offer much hope for the Finn Nieminen, he hasn’t been past Round 2 of this tournament either since 2007. Hewitt on the other hand knows this is his last dance and the 2002 champ will want to go out with a victory. His current form isn’t miles better than Neiminen but he did take a set off eventual runner-up Kevin Anderson at Queens two weeks ago so that offers hope. Back Hewitt in what should be an emotional day for him.
Simone Bolelli v Kei Nishikori (Monday)
There’s no doubt that Kei Nishikori has established himself as one of the Top 10 players in the Men’s game. He reached the US Open final last September and performed really well at Roland Garros and Australia earlier this year when reaching the last eight of those Grand Slam tournaments. He’s less assured at Wimbledon but he should be too strong for Italian Simone Bolelli on Monday.
Bolelli is a more of a Doubles player and has never really scaled the heights in the Singles game. To be fair, he reached the Third Round last year where he beat Philip Kohlschreiber along the way but his journey ended at the hands of Nishikori in that third game where he lost in five sets. Nishikori has improved since then and a semi-final appearance at warm-up tournament Halle is a real plus point. Back Nishikori on the Game Handicap conceding 5.5 games at odds of 1.86.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga v Gilles Muller (Tuesday)
Onto Tuesday in the Men’s draw and there’s an intriguing clash between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Muller to look forward to. 188 Bet have Tsonga as 1.55 favourite but there might be some logic in taking him on with the outsider. Yes, Tsonga reached the French Open semi-finals and has a good record at Wimbledon overall, but he’s had a tough year in 2015 and hasn’t played any of the warm-up tournaments.
By contrast Muller is having a bit of an Indian Summer at the moment. He reached the semi-finals at Hergonbesch and got all the way to the quarter-finals at Queens earlier in the month. In that quarter he faced eventual champion Andy Murray and managed to take a set off him. He also reached the Fourth Round of the Australian Open this year. Muller is clearly enjoying his tennis at the moment and at 2.40 is worth siding with in this intriguing Tuesday clash.
Belinda Bencic v Tsvetana Pironkova (Monday)
There’s no doubt who’s been the star of the Women’s grass court campaign so far – Belinda Bencic. The 18 year old won the title at Eastbourne last week and was runner-up in Hergonbesch earlier in the month. She’s developing her game fantastically well and is a fair price to beat Tsvetana Pironkova on Monday.
Pironkova did reach the semi-finals in 2010 but has struggled in SW19 since then with an opening round defeat attached to her name last year. She did reach the Quarter-Finals at Eastbourne, but of course that was two rounds back from Bencic. Another great positive for the 18 year old was her performance here last year when she reached the Third Round as a tender 17 year old and got to the same stage in the US Open as well. Back Bencic to continue her inspiring form at odds of 1.86 with a 2.5 game handicap.
Timea Bacsinszky v Julia Goerges (Tuesday)
In our French Open previews we were very sweet on the upcoming Swiss player Timea Bacsinsky and she didn’t let us down by getting all the way to the semi-finals at Roland Garros. She’s had such a strong year that she’s worth keeping in mind at Wimbledon. She opens her campaign on Tuesday against the German Julia Goerges and should be supported.
Goerges doesn’t bring much to the table. She was knocked out in Round 1 in the last two years here at SW19 and again at Eastbourne last week. By contrast Bacsinsky can call upon her 2015 title wins at Acapulco and Monterrey, her rapid rise up the rankings and that sensational display at Roland Garros. She should be strong enough to win -1.5 on the Set Handicap.
Wimbledon First Round Best Bets
Lleyton Hewitt to beat Jarkko Neiminen (1.62)
Kei Nishikori -5.5 Games v Simone Bolelli (1.86)
Gilles Muller to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (2.40)
Belinda Bencic -2.5 Games v Tsvetana Pironkova (1.86)
Timea Bacsinszky -1.5 Sets v Julia Goerges