QUARTER three looks the place for a hint of value today, with Denis Istomin, Alex Bolt, Damir Dzumhur, Frances Tiafoe, Lorenzo Sonego and Marius Copil possible options in one way or another on day two.
Nick Kyrgios vs Denis Istomin
Kyrgios' weak break of serve stats make it hard to see the unpredictable Aussie beating a more than capable grass court performer like Istomin comfortably.
In his last 10 matches on grass, which goes back to Wimbledon 2016, Kyrgios has broken serve only 5.9% of the time, which is less often than John Isner and only a tiny fraction better than Ivo Karlovic.
His seven matches on grass so far this 2018 season have all either gone to a deciding set or been settled in two tie breaks, while nine of his last 13 sets on grass have gone to breakers.
Hardly much of a shock really if he’s only breaking 5.9% of the time and Istomin is hardly the greatest breaker of serve on grass either, with 11.2% breaks of serve in his last 10 on this surface.
In Kyrgios’ 13 completed matches in the main draw at Wimbledon only twice has he won in straight sets – and both of those came in matches against Argentinean clay courters (Monaco and Schwartzman).
Only twice in those 13 career matches at Wimbledon has NK not played a tie break – one against Andy Murray when he was well beaten and the other against Jiri Vesely back in 2014.
The head-to-head is quite old between this pair and not too relevant considering one was on clay in 2015 and other a Davis Cup clash on grass back in 2014.
A price of 1.76 on tie break played and/or odds of 1.84 about over 33.5 games look the ones here.
Marius Copil vs Robin Haase
Dutchman Haase, despite bizarre claims from countryman Richard Krajicek that “why not Haase to win a Slam”, has a weak record in majors and a poor set of results against big servers.
Haase has won only two of his last 13 matches at majors (losing four times as favourite in the last two-and-a-half seasons) and he hasn’t won back-to-back matches at any Grand Slam since Wimbledon 2011.
Versus the big servers in my database Haase has lost 11 of his last 15 matches and one of those defeats was against Copil on indoor hard a few months ago in Sofia.
Grass isn’t the best surface for Copil, whose movement is exposed by better players on the green stuff, but he’s still got hold/break numbers on this surface that are a fraction better than Haase’s.
Copil’s on 96.1 in his 13 main level matches (6-7 win/loss) while Haase is on 95.8 in his career, in which he’s 19-28 win/loss at main level, and 93.9 in his last 10.
Both of these men struggle to break serve (at around 10 to 12%) on grass and Copil also has a poor record at Grand Slam level, with a 1-7 career mark, which puts me off backing him to win it, but over 40.5 games and over 1.5 tie breaks appeal here.
I mentioned yesterday the likelihood of tie breaks in the match between two very similar poor returners in Leo Mayer and Jan-Lennard Struff and that one had three breakers in it, so I’m happy to take a chance on a similar outcome here.
Lorenzo Sonego vs Taylor Fritz
It’s not that often that you find a player with a 2-9 career record on grass at main level put in as a 1.25 favourite, but that’s where we’re at with this match and I’m happy to take Fritz on a bit here.
This pair met on the grass in qualifying for Queen’s Club only two weeks ago and that one went the full three sets in what was the Italian’s first ever match on grass.
He’s since won two rounds of qualies and was beaten by Ernests Gulbis in the final round, but got back in as a lucky loser, and this is hardly the toughest round one draw that Sonego could have been handed.
The Italian has a decent serve when he gets it going, as we saw at the Australian Open this year when he qualified without being broken and beat Haase in round one.
It hasn’t been firing as well this grass swing so far, but if he finds his range he can make this close against an opponent that is far from a natural on grass and who hasn’t won back-to-back sets in any of his last six matches on it (including qualies and Challengers).
Over 3.5 sets at 1.72 looks a bet in this one.
Another player that has a less than fine record on grass and is pretty much the same price as Fritz is Kyle Edmund, who managed to lose to a barely fit Mikhail Kukushkin in Eastbourne last week.
Edmund is 1-5 so far in his career at the main draw of Wimbledon and his nerves were there for all to see against Kukushkin, with the tournament seemingly at his mercy, and also in the past here at the All England Club.
He should be too good for Alex Bolt, but over 3.5 sets appeals in this one too, as does the 3-1 to Edmund at 3.75.
I’m not convinced at all these days about Fernando Verdasco on grass and with the Spaniard 2-8 in his last 10 on this surface it could well be that Frances Tiafoe has a live chance as underdog in this one.
Tiafoe is rather inexperienced on grass, but he played well at Queen’s, making the last eight, and he may well simply want this more than Verdasco at this stage of their respective careers.
Damir Dzumhur showed us that a lack of major weaponry in your game doesn’t mean you can’t win titles on grass and providing he isn’t too fatigued after his Antalya title run he should be too good for Maximilian Marterer on grass.
Marterer struggles to defend on his backhand side on grass and doesn’t move well enough in this surface, all of which means he’s only broken serve 11.2% of the time so far at main level on grass.