Perhaps the best bet ahead of Andy Murray’s first round meeting with Nikolay Davydenko at Wimbledon today would be on one of the commentators comparing the Brit’s matches at SW19 to a ride on a rollercoaster.
As tired and overused as the cliché is, it at least has some merit: matches against Richard Gasquet, Stanislas Wawrinka and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at SW19 in the last three years have all seen Murray flirt with danger before pulling through.
But it is not only in the latter rounds that Murray has had the crowd on edge at the All England Championships.
Murray’s form going into the championships is a cause for concern, with his build-up to the third grand slam of the year consisting of three consecutive defeats on grass.
In his last three Wimbledon campaigns, the world number four has twice dropped a set in the first round to a player ranked outside the top 50.
So even though Murray is 1/20 favourite to beat Davydenko on Centre Court later today, a routine victory should not be counted on.
Indeed, Murray’s form going into the championships is a cause for concern, with his build-up to the third grand slam of the year consisting of three consecutive defeats on grass.
He looked particularly out of sorts in his loss to Nicolas Mahut at Queen’s in his first match after the French Open, not least because he took to the court as defending champion.
Although he has had time to acclimatise to the surface since then, defeats to Janko Tipsarevic and Novak Djokovic at the Boodles are further reasons for pessimism, as is a persistent back problem which was particularly troublesome at the French Open.
With his record of starting slowly in opening matches at Wimbledon thrown into the mix, backing Davydenko to win at least a set at 17/10 looks an appealing prospect.
The Russian has slipped down the rankings alarmingly since clinching the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London in 2009.
Now ranked number 47 in the world, he has only won more than two matches in a row twice this season.
Nevertheless, he knows how to beat Murray having done so four times in the past and, given the doubts about the ability of the British number one to hit top form from the off, he looks more than capable of avoiding a straight-sets defeat.
That said, Murray remains the class act and once he finds his feet should bring the rollercoaster to a successful conclusion, so backing him to win in four sets is one other bet to consider at 33/10.
Nikolay Davydenko to win at least one set @ 17/10
Andy Murray to win by three sets to one @ 33/10
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