DAY three got off to a good start again when we got the expected long match between Radu Albot and Aljaz Bedene, so the overs was a comfortable winner in that one, and those who opposed Bedene at that miserable price of 1.33 would have been happy too.
We then ran into a John Isner serving off the charts, with almost 90% of first serves hitting the mark in the first three sets, but Ruben Bemelmans was able to come back from two sets down and 4-0 down in the third set tie break to level the match.
When the rain came it was 4-3 to Bemelmans in the fifth, with Isner serving at 30-0, so we still have a chance in that one, with the Belgian needing to win it to cover the handicap.
Also stopped at an inopportune moment was Philipp Kohlschreiber’s clash with Gilles Muller, in which Kohli leads by a set and he’s 5-3 up in the second set tie break, so that handicap is still alive overnight too.
The forecast was spot on regarding Wednesday’s weather and they’re predicting more showers on Thursday between around 14:00 and 17:00 local time, while the wind speed will only be around 9 or 10kph.
The ones of interest to me in one way or another on Thursday include: Bernard Tomic, Marcos Baghdatis, Jiri Vesely, Mikhail Kukushkin and perhaps Robin Haase.
Bernard Tomic vs Kei Nishikori
It’s not often these days that I find myself tempted by backing Bernie, but this is one such occasion, with Nishikori having failed to regain his best form since a wrist injury in the latter half of last season.
The Japanese has shown flashes of something like his form of old – mainly during the clay swing – but on grass so far this swing he’s been lethargic and he wasn’t that far away from getting involved in a major fight to progress against Christian Harrison in round one.
It’s always difficult for the players when they face a close mate and that may be the only mitigation for Nishikori against Harrison, who was well in the match until getting injured at the end of set three.
I’m yet to be convinced by Nishikori on grass and it doesn’t strike me as his favourite surface to play on either – in his own admission, “points finish much faster than the other surfaces,” and he’s yet to find the right balance on grass.
Tomic, on the other hand, loves playing on the grass and his win/loss record at Wimbledon is actually exactly the same as Nishikori’s – 14 wins and 8 losses.
You never know what to expect from Tomic, who had to resort to a lucky loser’s spot after losing to Ruben Bemelmans while suffering from illness in qualies, but at this price he’s worth a risk.
The Aussie came out on top against Nishikori as underdog in both of their two most recent clashes back in 2016 when Nishikori was top-10, so the match-up isn’t an issue for Bernie – as ever it’s his mental approach that’ll be key.
There’s a danger that he just won’t fancy it on the day, but he’s been playing well enough lately to risk him against an opponent that looks a fair way off his best.
Diego Schwartzman vs Jiri Vesely
I think we have to take a chance on Vesely at these prices, with the Czech having a much better record on grass than Schwartzman, who’s 1-7 on this surface in his career so far.
Vesely is handy on grass with his big, heavy serve causing plenty of damage, and while his movement is nowhere near as good as that of Schwartzman it might not need to be in these conditions.
The Czech has held serve 87.5% of the time in his last 10 matches on grass at main level (6-4 win/loss) and in the main draw of Wimbledon he’s held it 89.2% of the time in his 12 matches (8-4).
That’s excellent serving and it’s not as if he only breaks 5 or 6% of the time like an Isner or a Karlovic either, with 17.7% breaks in his last 10 on grass at main level and 14.8% at Wimbledon, so he’s not bad there either.
Schwartzman has it all to prove on this surface and while Vesely doesn’t hit as flat as the likes of Lukas Lacko, who beat the Argentine at Eastbourne, he hits a heavy ball and he did beat Schwartzman on clay in their only career meeting.
In short, Schwartzman hasn’t done anywhere near enough on grass yet to be a 1.76 chance and for me there’s value on the Czech here.
Nick Kyrgios is pretty much the same price for his match against Robin Haase as he was in round one versus Denis Istomin and it’s tempting again to take the overs, but the layers have been a little wiser this time.
Instead of the over 33.5 line for total games as it was for the Istomin match they’ve gone 37.5 games in this one, but what worries me about this bet on this occasion is the mental fragility of Haase.
Kyrgios will probably hold easily as usual and try and nick something on return, but Haase is likely to throw in a poor service game here and there and, similarly to my thoughts on Seppi yesterday, his record in tie breaks versus big servers is poor.
The Dutchman is 5-12 in breakers against the ones in my database and his win/loss record is 6-12.
It’s tempting to take Kyrgios on again in terms of the handicap or over games, but I can’t trust Haase and NK is likely to be more relaxed and likely to improve in round two.
Marcos Baghdatis vs Karen Khachanov
If fit, Baghdatis is a very interesting proposition against Khachanov, whose grass court record so far is okay, but nothing particularly special, and assuming the injury-prone Cypriot is physically fine he’s worth a small risk.
A flat hitter like Baghdatis on a low-bouncing surface can cause real problems for tall opponents (won seven of his last nine on grass against opponents over 6’4” in height) like the 6’6” (1.98m) Khachanov, who prefers the ball bouncing higher.
Khachanov has had some decent wins so far in his 11-match main level grass court career, beating the likes of Kei Nishikori, Mischa Zverev and David Ferrer, but a closer look at those matches is interesting.
Nishikori was woeful against Khachanov, in Halle, while Zverev was struggling with a hamstring injury and Ferrer was also dire (in round one here this week), so I’m not sure that Khachanov’s grass skills match his price of 1.32.
His stats in those 11 matches are not bad, with a 101.3 hold/break total, but that’s hardly worthy of this price against an opponent who, if fit, can still mix it with most on grass.
Indeed, Baggy’s last 10 on grass have yielded a hold/break total of 107.1, but the opposition has been poor in that time, and this will be a revealing test of where Baggy is at this late stage of his career.
Given his record of injuries I’ll take the +1.5 sets on the Cypriot at 2.25 in this one, as I feel a fit Baghdatis can make a real match of this.
Elsewhere on day four there should be wins for Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev, Kyle Edmund, and Matt Ebden, with those four facing opponents that they should outclass.
I’m rarely convinced by Edmund on grass, but he should beat Bradley Klahn, who had a very long period out of the game not so long ago ago, while Djokovic probably won’t need to move pout of second gear to get the better of Horacio Zeballos on grass.
On the injury front, Benoit Paire has a knee problem, Fabio Fognini says he still has pain in his ankle (and his match against his good mate Simone Bolelli could be anything), while Alex De Minaur had the trainer out a couple of times in his round one match for thigh problems.
Damir Dzumhur is in fine form at the moment and should be too solid for the erratic Ernests Gulbis, while Matteo Berrettini has the weapons, but perhaps not yet the grass experience to beat Gilles Simon.
I’d expect Juan Martin Del Potro to get the better of Feli Lopez on this slower grass than Queen’s and over the best of five sets, but perhaps the flat hitting of Mikhail Kukushkin can cause a few problems for Rafael Nadal.
It did back in 2014 when he won the opening set here against Nadal and the Kazakh has been playing very well in his last few matches on grass, so perhaps the over 31.5 games is a wager to consider there, with Nadal often a slow adaptor to this surface.