Murray well placed to take advantage of rivals’ demise as Wimbledon action hots up

WIMBLEDON has had more shocks than a budget horror film so far with big name after big name being knocked out of tennis’s most prestigious tournament.

Andy Murray was tipped up here at 7/2 last week to land his first Wimbledon title and end 77 years of British men’s pain. He is trading at just 5/4 with Coral now after his path to the final was made a lot easier with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal suffering surprise exits in the opening rounds.

Our concerns about Nadal’s glass knees proved correct as the two-time champion was dumped out in straight sets by the Belgian world number 135 Steve Darcis on Tuesday, although the clay king was typically gracious in defeat, refusing to blame injury.

Defending champion Federer followed his old rival out the exit door on Wednesday, beaten by the unheralded Sergiy Stakhovsky and, with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga retiring injured, Murray surely won’t get a better chance to reach a second Wimbledon showpiece and end the British male hoodoo in south-west London.

Those of a nervous disposition who took the 7/2 may consider trading out but should at least wait until later today when Murray plays Tommy Robredo for a place in the fourth round. The Scot is 1/25 to take care of his Spanish opponent and just 2/7 with Coral to win in straight sets.

But considering both Nadal and Federer were trading around the 1/100 mark to see off their conquerors, you’d be a brave punter going in that short.

Surprisingly, Murray and Robredo share a head-to-head record with two victories apiece, although the Scot won the last two meetings, both in 2009, in straightforward fashion. Robredo has never made it past the third round here in 11 previous tournaments and grass is his worst surface.

Murray is too professional to think it’s job done before he gets on court but it’s difficult to see his 31-year-old rival causing too many problems and I’ll be buying Murray’s supremacy at 22.5 with Sporting Index. The world No2 will pick up 10 points for winning and an additional five points for each set that he wins by.

The women’s draw is just as lop-sided as the men’s with Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki among leading fancies to fall earlier in the week. Serena Williams, just 4/9 in places at the start of the week, is now 2/9 with many firms.

Czech Petra Kvitova is next in bookmakers’ lists at 14/1 but she faces a tricky match versus Ekaterina Makarova today and it may be worth a speculative each-way bet on the Russian at a massive 125/1 with Coral for the tournament.

She will halve in price if she beats Kvitova, which she is well capable of, and would provide a brilliant trading opportunity.

■ Pointers…
Buy Murray supremacy at 22.5 with Sporting Index
Ekaterina Makarova e/w at 125/1 with Coral