Is Betting Djokovic, Murray at 2018 Grand Slams a Sucker Move?

  • Novak Djokovic is listed as a favorite to win all three remaining grand slams on the 2018 calendar.
  • Andy Murray is listed at similar odds for the US Open and Wimbledon.
  • This could be a trap for bettors as neither is playing tennis right now.

Novak Djokovic is an incredible tennis player, one of the best of all time. If anything, he doesn’t get enough respect, and won a flurry of slams in an era dominated by the GOAT (Roger Federer) and the greatest clay-court player in history (Rafael Nadal). This is all a disclaimer.

Let’s pretend the French Open starts in ~100 days. What are you focusing on? Getting on to a clay court? Tweaking your game? Working on some clay-specific stuff?

This is what Novak Djokovic is working on, after having a “minor intervention” to speed recovery and finally solve the elbow issue that we first learned about at last year’s Wimbledon. You’ll notice that this is not tennis, and that it’s also an admission that he is not currently playing tennis in any capacity.

Is he still a great player? Yes. Do I think he can come back and win, perhaps even this year? Absolutely. Wait until you see the odds at Bovada, though, and you’ll see why I’m all worked up. [Read full Bovada sportsbook review.]

Novak Djokovic Grand Slam Futures

  • Odds to win French Open: +450
  • Odds to win Wimbledon: +400
  • Odds to win US Open: +325 (Favorite)

The implied probability of these odds range from 18.2% (+450) to 23.5% (+325), which means that Novak is an odds-on favorite to win at least one grand slam this year, despite the fact that he isn’t actively playing tennis right now. He’s the outright favorite to win the US Open, at +325.

It doesn’t pay, as a sports-bettor, to be credulous. It doesn’t pay to not ask questions about injury. So when a player won’t really tell you what’s wrong, won’t tell you what procedures they’ve had to correct it, and will only reveal that they’re not currently capable of, y’know, playing tennis, it makes sense to be a little bit skeptical. These are not skeptical odds.

Nole isn’t the only player getting this treatment from sportsbooks. British darling and recent world number #1 Andy Murray has similarly optimistic odds despite serious injury.

Andy Murray serves, Roland Garros
Andy Murray, seen here serving at the French Open, has a 2/1 shot to win a 2018 major, according to sportsbooks. (Photo credit: Yann Caradec (Flickr) CC License)

Andy Murray Grand Slam Futures

  • Odds to win Wimbledon: +400
  • Odds to win US Open: +600

Andy Murray was the first player that got me really worked up about futures odds, when he was listed at +300 ahead of last year’s Wimbledon. Those were clearly lunatic odds, especially after his first-round loss at Queen’s; he made it as far as the quarterfinal.

For someone who hasn’t played since last year, and had major surgery on his hip last month, Andy Murray is getting amazing odds for 2018 Wimbledon and the US Open. These odds are roughly equivalent to a 2/1 shot (33% implied probability) of winning a slam in 2018, despite only playing in two. I won’t pretend to love Andy Murray’s game, and he’s never been that reliable at big tournaments, even at the top of his game, unless you consider the Olympics a “big tournament.”

Murray has been a lot more open about his surgeries than Djokovic, although he has not revealed an actual diagnosis. We’ve been kept abreast of his recovery, and he does Q&A sessions with fans that offer some insight into where he’s at. The fact remains, however, that there is no real way to build recovery timelines for players at the highest levels of sport — ability to contest five-set tennis matches isn’t really a treatment outcome the medical community concerns itself with — and it’s doubly impossible without a diagnosis.

2018 Grand Slam Betting Advice

Sportsbooks are looking to capitalize on emotional British bettors feeling traitorous if they don’t back their horse, and take advantage of tennis bettors still stinging from Djokovic’s era of dominance. It does not present value for you, and you can try to get on the other side by taking someone else. Just please not Rafael Nadal, for obvious reasons.

Dominic Thiem at +700 for the French Open is approaching sensible, and there is a raft of hyper-talented players at long odds at Wimbledon, if you can convince yourself that something very bad is going to happen to Roger Federer.

Geoff Johnson

MTS co-founder Geoff Johnson is a lifelong Mets fan, something he can't do anything about. He has a great track record when it comes to wagering on baseball – largely because he's more than willing to bet against the Mets. His career profits are impressive, but not quite as good as his handsome friend Frank Lorenzo. He wishes he hadn't let Frank write his profile.