DAY nine of Wimbledon is men’s quarter-finals day with as expected the world’s top grass court players in action on Wednesday.
Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will all be playing for places in the semi-finals and we’re expecting the rain to have disappeared and a decent day weather-wise is expected.
We managed to bag ourselves a handy 11-4 winner on Tuesday when Johanna Konta and Simona Halep played a tie-break (and then another) in their women’s singles quarter-final but it was the Brit rather than the Romanian who edged a tight three-setter under the closed roof.
The last two years (2016 and 2017) have seen a reduction in the quantity of men’s underdog winners at Wimbledon and the latter stages of the tournament are unlikely to add much to this year’s current total of 25.
From 2012 to 2015 inclusive there were between 29 and 33 underdog winners but only 26 in 2016 and 25 in 2017.
And underdog winners have been scarce in the quarter-finals over the last five years, with just three of the last 20 men’s quarter-finals being won by the betting outsider.
There have been a decent amount tie-breaks though, with 11 of the last 20 quarter-finals featuring at least one.
Andy Murray v Sam Querrey
There’s an interesting parallel between Murray’s record against Querrey and that of Djokovic versus the American, with the Serb heading into his Wimbledon clash with Querrey last year leading the head-to-head 8-1.
Querrey won that one over Djokovic as a big outsider and now Murray takes an 8-1 career series lead over Big Sam into Wednesday’s quarter-final.
As with the Djokovic/Querrey match all the stats are heavily weighted towards the favourite, with Murray yet to lose a set or even be taken to a tie-break by Querrey on grass and the American’s big serve has not been much of a problem for the Scot.
In the eight main level meetings between them (the ninth was at the US Open juniors way back in 2004) Querrey has held serve only 67.8% of the time and won just 66.4% of the points on his first serve and 41.6% on his second serve.
Murray has held his own deal 88.6% of the time in those eight meetings so unless there’s some sort of a problem with Murray as there was with Djokovic (off-court issues were cited) it’s hard to see anything other than a Murray win here.
Only three of those eight main level matches have featured a tie-break and a price of 3.40 on ‘no tie breaks’ looks good value given the career series and the fact Querrey hasn’t played that many breakers on grass lately by his standards.
He’s played seven tie-breaks in his last 33 sets on grass and the way Murray has dealt with his pretty one-dimensional game in the past suggests no breakers is good value.
If we look at Querrey’s record versus top-five opposition in his last nine matches going back as far as 2013 we see only two of those nine matches (only two of which were on clay) featured a tie-break.
Querrey’s one of those rare group of players who can be anywhere between superbly, almost unplayably good and quite poor on any given day but unless he serves off supremely well and hits his forehand like a laser it should be Murray’s day.
Gilles Muller v Marin Cilic
Another round, another short price on Cilic, but this time it’s got more to do with facing a fatigued opponent after Muller spent not far off five hours on court to stun Rafa Nadal on Monday.
When Cilic and Muller met over the best of three sets on grass a few weeks ago at Queen’s Club the Croat was a 1.50 chance and now here he is at 1.22 against the same player.
Muller’s likely physical condition – or lack of it – makes this a tricky one to bet on but if the Luxembourger is struggling a bit his serve is likely to suffer, making under 1.5 tie breaks a more interesting proposition than it usually would be between this pair.
They didn’t play one in their three sets at Queen’s Club but with service hold marks of between 94% and 96% each the pricing is understandable and we’d be taking a gamble on Muller’s fitness levels if we went under 1.5 at 1.79.
Each one of Lukas Rosol, Dustin Brown, Nick Kyrgios and Steve Darcis, who all beat Nadal as big underdogs, lost their next match, so history and fatigue are against Muller but I still wouldn’t back Cilic at 1.22.
Tomas Berdych v Novak Djokovic
Our outright, Djokovic, was seething (and rightly so) after not being put on Centre Court on Monday evening and instead being made to play a day later than the other quarter-finals but at least he’s through.
There is an arm/shoulder issue with Djokovic though and he had the trainer out in his patchy straight-sets win over Adrian Mannarino on Tuesday.
Hopefully he’ll be okay to take on Berdych for the 28th time and assuming he’s fit it’s not that easy to make much of a case for the Czech who’s lost 25 of the previous 27.
We all know the drill here – Djokovic moves Berdych around, getting him off balance and making the Czech hit on the run, rather than the ‘stand and deliver’ style Berdych loves.
Djokovic makes him play one ball too many and the errors end up coming from Berdych. To beat Novak over five sets, which he last did here at Wimbledon in the 2010 semi-finals, he needs a near perfect serving performance and his best day off the ground.
Even then he’ll need some help from the Serb and hopefully it’ll be business as usual for Djoko, who over his last 25 matches against Berdych has held serve 88.5% of the time. Berdych has held serve just 70.3% of the time in those 25 encounters.
Again, no tie-breaks is tempting here, with only three of their last 10 clashes having featured a breaker, so a price of 2.95 on under 0.5 tie-breaks looks decent value.
Milos Raonic v Roger Federer
The second match scheduled on Centre Court at probably around 4pm UK time is a repeat of last year’s semi-final between the big-serving Canadian and the Swiss maestro and this one at least looks like it has the potential to be close.
Raonic has won his last two against Federer, including that semi-final 12 months ago, and his serve usually keeps him competitive at least for a while.
Federer says of this year’s Wimbledon encounter with Raonic: “Physically I'm not fighting anything like last year with my knee,” which roughly translated means: ‘He won’t beat me now that I’m fully fit.” And he’s probably right.
Raonic was hardly a deserved winner over Alexander Zverev in the last round with the German guilty of wasting his many opportunities to put that match to bed early on.
And it’s hard to envisage Federer being so wasteful at this stage of a major against an opponent he knows he must keep on the back foot.
The Canadian’s big problem, not just against Federer, is his lack of ability on grass to break serve, coming in at only 10.8% breaks of serve over his last 10 matches on this surface.
Versus Federer he’s been unable to break much at all, with the Swiss holding serve 95.5% of the time in his 12 career matches against Raonic, and the Canadian’s hopes surely rest mainly on winning tie breaks.
He’s won four of the nine he’s played versus Federer so far and betting on overs/unders is a bit chancy here, with Raonic likely to nick a set or maybe even two on tie breaks if the luck goes his way in them.
I expect Federer to be well aware of the dangers of letting this man get to tie breaks though and only two of their last 12 sets against each other have gone to breakers.
I think the bet here is to go with Federer to win it in four sets at 3.70.