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What the End of Tennis' Golden Era Means for Betting

By Special Guest
Kate Summers
March 19, 2019

In sports, as with Hollywood, television and everything else in culture, it’s difficult to fully appreciate that we are witnessing a ‘golden era’. Mainly it’s because sports are delivered in bite-size chunks, meaning we reflect on individual results at the time, rather than a period as a whole.

However, the current era in men’s tennis has been described as a golden era, partly due to the fact we have had four of the greatest players in history – Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray – all competing at the top of their game. That period, however, is coming to an end for a variety of reasons.

First of all, Andy Murray is perhaps never going to pick up a racket again, the Brit having surgery that will at the very least mean he won’t be competing at the top level, if at all. Secondly, Roger Federer, arguably the best player in history, finally looks like he faces an unbeatable opponent – time. The Swiss maestro is now 37, and while still ranked among the best, the defeats are now more frequent, the breaks longer and more often. He has interests off the court, but his time on it looks to be coming to an end.

Big 4 era has drawn to a close

This breaking up of tennis ‘Big 4’ has other consequences that will be felt beyond the game. One of those areas that will be impacted will be betting. Of the last 61 tennis Grand Slams, the Big 4 won 55 between them. This has led to a ‘mini-market’ of betting within that group, with punters picking the winner from among the quartet rather than the other 124 players who contest a Grand Slam.

Of course, things haven’t changed dramatically yet. Rafael Nadal is still the hot-favorite for the next Slam, the French Open, given odds of 9/10 by 888sport. Novak Djokovic also looks like a lock for the Wimbledon and US Open titles at 6/4 and 5/4 respectively – you can use this bet calculator to see the odds for the double or treble combined with Nadal. But the era of a field of four greats with little to choose between them – looks to be at an end.

Betting markets already changing

Why is it important? Well, for bettors, it means that odds will begin to be less skewed in the coming years. For over a decade, punters had two markets to choose from: the field of four at tightly packed odds at the top, or a huge group of outside chances with inflated odds as a result of the Big 4 dominance. Even now, we see players like Alexander Zverev (9/1 Wimbledon) and Juan Martin Del Potro (9/1 US Open) creep into single figures when it comes to Grand Slam betting for 2019.

The question, then, is will it be better or worse for punters once the Big 4 has finally let its grip slip on men’s tennis? It’s hard to say. Making bets like Rafael Nadal winning the French Open has always been one of the surer bets in sports, but it comes with the caveat that he will likely be short-odds to triumph. We should expect bigger odds and more contenders once the Spaniard hangs up his bandana. A simple trade-off.

The bottom line is that there will probably never be an era like this in tennis again. It will change how fans view the sport, but also other aspects, like television viewership, sponsorship and, yes, how punters interact with it. The golden era of the Big 4 is coming to an end, but you should expect bettors to adapt accordingly.

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