THE second week of Wimbledon 2017 gets underway on Manic Monday after the traditional break for Middle Sunday.

Week one ended with two winners and two unlucky defeats for me on Saturday when Tomas Berdych easily covered the handicap against David Ferrer and Ernests Gulbis forced a tie break versus Novak Djokovic.

But there was a bit of burglary about the two losses when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was the victim of bad light that led to him coming back on Saturday and dropping serve and the match in a matter of minutes versus Sam Querrey.

And Alexander Zverev fell one game short of covering the handicap against Sebastian Ofner after the German broke the Austrian early in all three sets only to hand it right back each time.

Outright wise we lost Anett Kontaveit, who failed from 1.04 in-play against Caroline Wozniacki, and only Zverev, Djokovic and Angelique Kerber have made it to week two.


Round four over the last five years has produced quite a lot of tie-break matches, with an average of 61% of the matches having at least one tie break in them, which equates to a price of 1.64 on ‘tie-break played’ and 2.56 on ‘no tie-breaks’ if we’re following that trend.

Underdog winners are few and far between in this round usually, with just nine in the last 39 matches over the last five years at a rate of only 1.8 per year.

Roberto Bautista Agut v Marin Cilic

And if we are looking for one or two underdog winners in this round RBA fits the bill, with Cilic having a propensity of easing through the early rounds of a major and then slumping to a disappointing – and often heavy – defeat as favourite.

Classic Cilic was at the US Open last year when he was beaten in straight sets by Jack Sock as a 1.40 chance and four of his last six defeats at majors have come when he’s been priced up between 1.09 and 1.45.

Indeed, one came at the hands of RBA – again in straight sets – at the 2016 Australian Open and that was in round three after the Spaniard had played back-to-back five setters.

I’ve said all along that Cilic has been priced up much too short at Wimbledon, both outright and in his matches, and his straight sets wins over a dire (and injured) Philipp Kohlschreiber, the limited Steve Johnson and chokey Flo Mayer may flatter the Croat.

Mayer served for both the first and third sets of that three-set affair and had he managed it the result of that match would have been very different and Cilic’s serve as well as Flo’s choking helped him to win that one.

If we look at Cilic’s hold/break stats over the past 12 months on grass they are superb, with a 116 total comprised of 96.1% holds and 19.9% breaks, but he hasn’t faced a single top-20 opponent in those 11 matches.

His all-time numbers at Wimbledon offer perhaps a more realistic assessment, with 88.5% holds and 17.8% breaks for a 106.3 total, which is slightly worse than that of Bautista Agut.

RBA’s Wimbledon total (10 wins, four losses) works out at 107.8 and that’s about the same as his mark over his last 10 matches at all main level tournaments on grass of 107.2.

If Cilic serves at his best level he should win this, but I have substantial doubts about him at a price of 1.21 against an opponent more than capable on this surface and with a great win at a major over him the last time they met.

From RBA’s side of things he does get put under a lot of pressure at the end of sets to hold his mediocre serve, but he’s won 11 of his last 16 matches against the big servers in my database.

Only one of those 11 wins came on clay, so he’s done it in quicker conditions, and for me Bautista Agut is the best value underdog of the day at 4.60.

Grigor Dimitrov will have his supporters at 5.60 against Roger Federer and it is a tempting price, with the Bulgarian seeming to be having one of those tournaments where he finds his best form again.

But he’s faced nothing so far in Diego Schwartzman, a poor Marcos Baghdatis and an injured Dudi Sela who lasted two sets and I can’t see him beating Federer here at Wimbledon.

Dimitrov is yet to beat the Swiss maestro in five tries and is 1-5 versus top-five ranked opposition at majors. I hope he comes out and beats Federer today, as we’re on Alexander Zverev for the quarter, but a 3-1 win for Fed at 3.65 looks the bet.

Milos Raonic vs Alexander Zverev

This is the first of two potentially tough matches for our quarter pick Zverev but should he be underdog against Raonic in this one?

The players have been queuing up all tournament long so far to tell us how slow conditions are, with the latest one being Gilles Muller, who said: “I played on Court 18 and 12 here this week and they were the slowest grass courts I've ever played on.”

They’ve also been quick to moan about the quality of the courts this year, but the overwhelming consensus from the players is it’s slower than in the past, but I said at the start of the tournament the tie-break count has been dropping, so their comments don’t come as a surprise.

It’s slow enough that Raonic doesn’t have much, if any, advantage over Zverev here and other than the fact the Canadian made the final last year I’m struggling to see why he’s favourite.

Over their last 10 matches on grass Zverev’s service hold/break stats are better by some distance at 117.1 for Zverev and 106.2 for Raonic but the Canadian has played eight top-50 players in that time to Zverev’s five.

However, it’s Raonic’s lack of ability to break serve combined with Zverev’s commanding win over the Canadian in their only career meeting that tip the balance in the German’s favour.

Raonic breaks only 10.3% of the time at the moment which isn’t going to win you a major and although Zverev’s win over Raonic was on clay it showed just how much better he is off the ground than the lumbering Canadian.

It’s a tight call between Zverev and Sam Querrey for the role of second-best underdog of the day on Monday but with Querrey’s match against Kevin Anderson being little more than a serving contest Zverev at 2.08 looks the one.

I can’t see Gilles Muller being able to do much in conditions he called “the slowest grass courts I've ever played on,” against Rafael Nadal but he’s got a set in him if he serves his best. The 3-1 to Nadal is a 3.60 chance.

And it’s about the same price for the same result in Andy Murray’s second consecutive clash with an opponent not playing with a full deck in Benoit Paire.

In many ways it’s a similar sort of match for the Scot against an unpredictable opponent likely to have many ups and downs and Paire is another along with Zverev whose grass stats have improved considerably of late.

In his last eight matches over 12 months Paire is up at 110 (85.1% holds/24.9% breaks) but he hasn’t beaten a great deal in that time and Murray is likely to send him packing in four sets.

Paire will probably have his moments, as he did in their only career meeting on the clay in Monte-Carlo last season, but it’s unlikely to be enough to beat Murray on grass over five sets if Murray is fit.

The one where lots of punters will probably disagree is the clash between Dominic Thiem and Tomas Berdych and it’s a tough one to call, with the Austrian rarely appearing comfortable on grass and the Czech with an awful record versus top-10 opposition.

Berdych has won three of his last 19 against top-10 opposition and on grass he’s 2-8 in his career, with his most recent victory on grass coming back in 2010 when he made the final here.

We profited from his impressive win over David Ferrer but the Spaniard is nowhere near the player he was and that was just the type of match where Berdych can bully opponents and look good.

With his record versus the top 10 I couldn’t back him at 1.77 to win this and with Thiem yet to impress on the green stuff it looks one to avoid.

Novak Djokovic should have few problems with Adrian Mannarino who’s coming off back-to-back five setters but he did force a tie-break when he faced Djokovic here a year ago, so over 0.5 tie breaks (tie break played) is an option.

Who knows how fit he is though and I’d prefer taking a punt on the 3.05 about no tie-breaks in the Cilic match and at 2.95 in the Federer match. Risky, but good prices.

Sean Calvert's Tips

  • 1.5 points win Bautista-Agut to beat Cilic at 18-5 at Unibet
  • 1.5 points win Zverev to beat Raonic at 11-10 at Unibet

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