The winning start to the grass court season continued on Tuesday with my sole best bet proving to be a successful one.
Marcos Baghdatis did enough by claiming the second set against Ernests Gulbis to win on the set handicap and in the process the crazy Latvian promptly snapped his racquet in two and later gave it out to a fan as a souvenir.
All in a day’s work for Gulbis, but there was no work done on the day by Phillip Petzschner, who withdrew from the singles after his shoulder problem flared up again rendering my other two wagers on the day void.
But those who took my advice that both Petzschner’s opponent Jerzyc Janowicz and Milos Raonic were unproven on grass and too short in the betting would have profited, as Janowicz was beaten by lucky loser Mirza Basic – the world number 240, who lost two and two to Jimmy Wang in qualifying. Raonic did no better either, losing comfortably to Gael Monfils, who hadn’t played a match on grass for two years prior to yesterday.
Wednesday’s schedule in Halle sees Roger Federer as the main draw and the Swiss takes on Cedrik Marcel Stebe at 4.30pm UK time in his opening match on the grass. Federer hasn’t dropped a set in his first match in Halle since 2005 when Robin Soderling took one, and I doubt he will today against the German.
The schedule at Queen’s Club offers more value today and the all-Croatian clash between Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig has the look of a bruising encounter about it, and I fancy Dodig to take a set at least in this one.
Cilic has linked up with Unibet Ambassador Goran Ivanisevic for the grass court season after splitting with long term coach Bob Brett, but it’s surely too soon for any of Goran’s wise words about grass court tennis to have had a major effect.
Cilic has appeared out of sorts lately and his loss to Viktor Troicki last time out in Paris was woeful. He’s also had some battles with Dodig in the past and the lower ranked Croatian has won two of their last three meetings.
After getting himself out of a real hole against James Ward in the last round that long match will have tuned him nicely for this and coming in with match practice he should test Cilic and the 1.70 for him winning with a set start looks good.
I also like the chances of Feliciano Lopez on this surface against Julien Benneteau in a match that takes place at around 3pm on Wednesday, weather permitting.
Lopez is recently back from injury issues and he took a little time to get used to conditions yesterday when coming from a set down to beat Ricardas Berankis, but that practice will be invaluable when it comes to today’s match against an opponent who doesn’t enjoy conditions at Queen’s.
Benny has lost four times in the first round here and never been past round two, which suggests to me that the greasy, quickish conditions here don’t suit him as much as the green hard court that is Wimbledon, where his results have been better.
Benny has the better of the head-to-heads but Lopez easily won the only one on grass, which was here in 2010 and I like him to repeat the trick today at 1.88.
Back Dodig +1.5 sets to beat Cilic at 1.71
Back Lopez to beat Benneteau at 1.88