The notion of ‘momentum’ is often hotly disputed in sport. There are those who believe that a player or team, once they get on a winning run, will enjoy a higher chance of triumphing in their next match due to the confidence created.
Then there are those who doubt the notion of momentum, who believe that winning streaks can be ended at any time and that perceived ‘hot hand’ runs do not artificially increase the chance of success.
Consider the moment seized ?
In her first career major quarter-final, ??@mariasakkari earns the upset over defending champ and No.8 seed Iga Swiatek 6-4, 6-4. She’ll face Krejcikova for a spot in the final.#RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/y4cWZwUnn2
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 9, 2021
Whichever side of the fence you sit on, there’s no doubt that form – if not momentum – is crucial in sport. Furthermore, while there is no immediate connection between the French Open and Wimbledon – the differences between clay and grass court tennis are stark – the confidence that winning brings cannot be overlooked.
So, aside from the usual suspects, there are two players who can really look forward to Wimbledon 2021 – Matteo Berrettini and Maria Sakkari.
The Italian Job
While renowned for their clay court excellence, it’s rare for players from the Mediterranean to transfer that form onto the unique demands of Wimbledon’s clay courts. Yet Matteo Berrettini does have previous on grass, and his run to the quarter-finals of the French Open suggests that his current Wimbledon 2021 odds of 40/1 are excellent betting value. While the grass court season of 2020 was wiped out, if we head back to 2019, we remind ourselves of the excellence that the Italian showed.
He won the Stuttgart Open on the surface, beating the likes of Felix Auger Aliassime, Karen Khachanov, and Nick Kyrgios along the way. Then a week later he was at it again – going down to David Goffin in the semi-finals at Halle. Three strong wins at Wimbledon were followed by defeat to Roger Federer in the last 16, but Berrettini would have learned a lot from his grass court adventures that summer – standing him in excellent stead for 2021.
The 25-year-old only dropped one set on his way to the quarter-finals of the French Open, where he pushed Novak Djokovic hard. Additionally, his outstanding serve – Berrettini ranks sixth on the ATP Tour for service game win % in the past year – ensures he has the perfect weapon for success on the grass.
‘The quality of tennis is phenomenal!’ ?
Novak Djokovic takes the opening set against Matteo Berrettini. #RolandGarros
— Eurosport UK (@Eurosport_UK) June 9, 2021
By the time you are reading this, Maria Sakkari could be a major champion.
She is into the semi-finals of the French Open, having disposed of defending champion Iga Swiatek, the number four seed Sofia Kenin and the dangerous Elise Mertens along the way. It’s a breakthrough in all sense of the word for the Greek ace, who was yet to advance beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam event before her Roland Garros heroics.
A huge server of the ball, Sakkari ranks eighth on the WTA Tour for aces in 2021. That power has swept her to the semi-finals of the Miami Open – beating Naomi Osaka along the way – and the Abu Dhabi event, so her stock is very much on the rise.
An aggressive player that likes to keep rallies short, Sakkari is another with the perfect game to thrive at Wimbledon. She, like Berrettini, is undervalued in the outright winner market at 33/1.