WE started off day four with a handy odds-against winner when Jan-Lennard Struff was too strong for Taylor Fritz and defeated the American in four sets as a 2.20 chance.
Then we found another with Steve Johnson, who emerged successful from a five set battle with Alex De Minaur and Mikhail Kukushkin rounded off a clean sweep on the day by not only covering the +4.5 game handicap, but beating John Isner in five sets, exposing Isner’s lack of match fitness and vulnerability against the low ball in week one of Wimbledon.
Round three of the men’s singles in the last six years has produced the highest average amount of underdog winners at 31%, while the round is more or less par for the tournament when it comes to tie breaks, with 55% of the matches featuring at least one.
It’s set to be another fine day in the Wimbledon area on Friday, with the dial getting up to around 27C and with not a great deal of wind either (11kph), so good conditions for tennis again on day five.
Daniil Medvedev vs David Goffin
This one will divide opinion, but I think we have to go with the in-form Goffin, who, when he does find a rich vein of form, is a very tough proposition for pretty much anyone on tour.
It’s hard to ignore the stats of Goffin this grass swing, with the Belgian, having come into the grass season in a pretty much season-long funk suddenly finding his game and with it his confidence.
He’s now 8-2 win/loss, holding serve 87.3% of the time and breaking a stellar 28.7% of the time, which could well prove the difference in a tough looking clash with Medvedev.
If Goffin is holding serve 87% of the time he’s in excellent shape and he’s played some decent grass court opposition in this run as well: Federer, Berrettini, Chardy, Zverev.
His two matches here so far have shown the kind of confidence he currently has in his game and that hasn’t been the case for most of his year, including when Goffin and Medvedev clashed in Melbourne at the start of the year.
Goffin had only played three matches since ending his 2018 season early, due to an elbow injury when he faced Medvedev, who defeated the Belgian in straight sets, but it’s worth noting that even in that match Medvedev only won 34% of his second serve points.
The Russian has compiled some decent stats himself in his seven grass matches (5-2 win/loss) this summer, but he’s struggled to break serve often enough and played seven tie breaks in those seven matches.
He’s still doing pretty well though, at 88.5% holds and 21.2% breaks, but he hasn’t faced a top-20 opponent at all this grass swing and I’m happy to go with Goffin as slight underdog in the form he’s in currently.
The other ones that I’m thinking about on Friday are to take a bit of a chance on Reilly Opelka to win the opening set on a tie break against Milos Raonic.
Opelka hasn’t yet shown that he has the movement to do a great deal of damage on a grass court, but if he serves up to par he’s got every chance of doing something against the creaking Raonic, who’s barely fit for duty these days.
He should have lost set one to Robin Haase, but you know, Haase did what Haase does and managed to lose it, however Raonic had tape on his shoulder and work done on his left leg/ankle in that match to go with his recent back problems.
Not good signs for the injury prone Canadian, but more pertinently Raonic doesn’t have a good record in tie breaks against the big servers in my database and has lost eight of the 12 breakers he’s played against them on grass.
I’m happy to take a small chance on Opelka holding his nerve the better in the seemingly inevitable tie break (he’s broken serve 6.1% of the time against the big servers on my list/Raonic 8.9% of the time) with Opelka having a better 7-9 record in breakers versus my big servers.
The other one of interest is the match between Guido Pella and Kevin Anderson, with Pella perhaps underrated a touch against the big South African, who is just back from an injury break due to tennis elbow.
I think it’s a bit soon into Anderson’s comeback to have him as short as 1.14 against a perfectly capable opponent like Pella, who’s actually won his two matches on grass against the big servers on my list (Copil and Cilic).
He’s won five of his seven against that same group of players on clay and I wouldn’t be at all shocked if this match was closer than the prices suggest.
Anderson was barely getting the better of Janko Tipsarevic before the injury prone Serb’s body let him down once more on Wednesday and he can’t be back to his best after just a few matches back.
He does have a perfect 10-0 record on grass against lefties at all levels though and six of the last seven of those have featured at least one tie break.
Anderson will probably win it, but overs or the 3-1 to Anderson are worth thinking about there.
I was also tempted with Benoit Paire against Jiri Vesely, who Paire dismissed easily on quick hard courts in Pune at 560m of altitude at the start of the season.
His backhand and drop shot should both be effective against Vesely, who doesn’t move too well, but it’s Benoit, so I’ll pass (he’s also lost four of his five matches against lefties in 2019).
Roberto Bautista Agut has won considerably more second serve points than Karen Khachanov in their five-match career series, which RBA leads 3-2, and this low bouncing grass suits him better than the Russian for me.
RBA has won a solid 56% on his second ball, while Khachanov has only managed 44.4$ on his second delivery, which suggests that the Spaniard has had the better of things from the back of the court in their series (on clay, outdoor hard and grass).
In their one grass clash, Khachanov managed to win only 36% of the points on his second serve, so the prices look about right here to me.