Why Andy Murray has toughest draw at Wimbledon, despite Rafael Nadal exit

Defending champion Andy Murray is no longer required to face Rafael Nadal in order to reach the Wimbledon final, but he still remains with the toughest draw at SW19.

When the draw for Wimbledon was made, it appeared that Andy Murray would have to contend with Nick Kyrgios, Stanislas Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal in order to make the final at SW19 but ahead of Wednesday's quarter-finals, each of the trio has already been eliminated. Nadal, especially, had looked in supreme form so when he lost an epic to Gilles Muller late on Monday evening, it was naturally deemed that the door had been left open for the world number one. However, that is not necessarily the case and Murray arguably has a tougher route to the final than he would have initially envisaged.

Almost all of the Wimbledon betting previews will suggest that Murray can secure his place on Centre Court by getting away with playing his 'B' game, but that could not be further from the truth. He has winning records against each of Sam Querrey - his quarter-final opponent - and both Marin Cilic and Muller who could potentially lie in wait in the semis, but each of those three players will not only have full confidence in their own game, but they are all aware that they have enjoyed a certain degree of success against Murray when he has been playing much better and with fewer injury issues than he is dealing with right now.

Andy Murray goes for a forehand during the quarter-final match against Kyle Edmund at Queen's on June 17, 2016© Getty Images

Murray has not lost a set to Querrey on the grass but it is a surface where they have not met since 2010. In fact, they have come across each other just twice in the last five years and while Murray has taken his game to a whole new level, so has Querrey. Just 12 months ago, he defeated four-time champion Novak Djokovic on one of the show courts in South-East London and during this campaign, he has defeated proven grass-court players in Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Kevin Anderson over five sets. The American has always been a player who you feel has never quite fulfilled his potential, but he is a former Queen's champion who has reached his second successive Wimbledon quarter-final. His betting odds of 22/5 to beat Murray offer huge value and if he produces his best serving game, the upset is on.

Should the defending champion overcome Querrey on Wednesday, the chances are that he will be playing Cilic in the last four. It would be disrespectful to completely write off Muller after his heroics against Nadal, but given the physical and mental fatigue he would have suffered against the two-time winner, it is difficult to see him winning three sets against a player who has breezed through to this stage of the tournament. The former US Open champion has recorded 72 aces and is yet to drop a set, despite barely averaging 50% for the amount of first serves that have successfully found their target. He has also reached the quarter-finals in the last four years - he has only been denied going any further by Djokovic or Roger Federer - and the draw has opened up nicely for him to reach another Major final. He is 7/1 to lift the trophy on Sunday afternoon.

Marin Cilic of Croatia celebrates victory in his Gentlemen's Singles Fourth Round match against Denis Kudla of the United States during day seven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 6, 2015© Getty Images

As far as the other side of the draw is concerned, you have to fancy both Djokovic and Federer to progress through to the semi-finals and face each other for the first time in 18 months. Federer must first contend with a player in Milos Raonic who defeated him last year, but the legendary Swiss sustained a knee injury in the final set which would see him miss the rest of 2016, while Djokovic faces Tomas Berdych having won the last 14 sets against the Czech. A 46th meeting between Djokovic and Federer has the potential to be a battle for the ages but there is a reason why Federer is the favourite for this tournament. Forget the fact that he is a seven-time winner, his grass-court game is currently a level above everyone else and he knows the door is open to finally claim an eighth Wimbledon crown and his first since 2012.

If you are looking for some value from the men's Wimbledon quarter-finals, you can get very attractive betting odds of 30/1 for Cilic to beat Muller in straight sets, Federer to beat Raonic in four sets and for at least two tie-breaks to take place in the match featuring Murray and Querrey. Murray may be one of the best returners in the world but his serve is currently not firing on all cylinders and there is scope for Querrey to attack the second serve and put the Scot under pressure. Logic will tell you that there is a high chance of the latest chapter of Murray versus Federer taking place later this week but things rarely go to plan at Wimbledon - Muller beating Nadal showed that on Monday night.

Andy Murray of Great Britain celebrates victory during the Men's Singles first round match against Liam Broady of Great Britain on day two of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 28, 2016 in Londo
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