2014 Wimbledon Women's Forecast: The field is catching up to Serena Williams

USA TODAY Sports

It's not quite Serena-versus-the-field anymore, even on her best surface. Here's a look at who else is in contention this year besides Serena Williams.

Last time this year, Serena Williams was wrecking everything in sight and was the heavy favorite in everything she entered. She still comes into Wimbledon as the favorite this year, but the gap has closed a lot this year. Her draw also isn't as favorable as it was last year, with another slated matchup with Maria Sharapova, No. 2 in the field, in the quarterfinals. That has implications for the other half of the bracket, with a somewhat unlikely name boosted by the draw to solid contender status.

Forecast and Draw Analysis

Generated from Advanced Baseline win probabilities by simulating the tournament 100,000 times. The round probabilities, along with each player's expected points and draw effects, are shown below. Full methodology explainedhere. Dashboarding provided by John Mathis.

To see each individual player's outlook, select their name from the drop-down list below.

Contenders

Li Na has never made it past the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, but she got a fantastic draw for it this year. The early-round matchups are as soft as she could hope for, and that's huge for her expected point totals above. Meanwhile, the return of Victoria Azarenka has made the field stronger than that of the French Open, so there's not a lot of room for anyone to be a runaway favorite. Serena's still the favorite, but she isn't nearly as heavy a favorite as last year, especially with the rise of Simona Halep creating yet another contender.

Unseeded Dark Horses

  • Madison Keys: It's almost not fair to call her a dark horse after she won her first title the week before Wimbledon, but AB has never been bashful about picking her before. With Sloane Stephens already out on day 1, she's poised to make a run at the title of Best American Prospect this year.
  • Camila Giorgi: Not only does her hard-hitting game play well on grass, but she got a pretty good early-round draw. Giorgi-Sharapova in the third should be awesome; Giorgi upset Sharapova earlier this year at Indian Wells. I would say she's a great bet, but giving her money hasn't been a historically good idea.
  • Belinda Bencic: The Swiss 17-year old has been very under the radar this year despite being AB top 40. By getting an overseeded Sorana Cirstea in the second, she's been given a great shot for a third rounded with Simona Halep. Probably my favorite pick for a shocker on the women's side.

Outlook for Americans

Well, Sloane Stephens is already out, so everyone should hop onto the Madison Keys bandwagon; AB has been aboard since January. Outside of the Williams sisters in their usual contending status, Alison Riske is always a great pick during grass season -- she always dominates Eastbourne leading up to Wimbledon. She's slated to face Giorgi in the second; if she can advance, Maria Sharapova waits in the third.

Lauren Davis probably has the best chances of making a run on account of her draw. Flavia Pennetta in the second is the only tough opponent in the first four rounds, and that's especially true with Stephens now out.

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