The grass court swing gathers pace on week 24 of the ATP World Tour, with round one matches set for Monday at the Gerry Weber Open and AEGON Championships.
Both have been upgraded to ATP 500 status this season and there are plenty of the world’s top stars on display in Halle and London this week.
One such star, Rafael Nadal, landed our ‘value bet’ of the day on Sunday when he defeated Viktor Troicki in the Stuttgart final in straight sets, but there was real disappointment elsewhere.
Vasek Pospisil’s match with Ricardas Berankis wasn’t streamed, but the courtside view was that the Canadian had a terrible day the office, losing six straight games to go from 3-2 to 3-6, 0-2, and the match was gone.
But there was much better news from those who took the 100-1 outright price on Nicolas Mahut when the Frenchman landed the Rosmalen title in straight sets against David Goffin.
Roger Federer vs Philipp Kohlschreiber
I’m still not happy with Kohlschreiber after his ‘rabbit in the headlights’ performance against Monfils in Stuttgart, but this is a really tough opening match of the grass swing for Federer.
Federer’s opening match on grass a year ago was against Joao Sousa and he lost the opening set there and this is by far Fed’s biggest challenge in his first match on grass of his career.
He’s hasn’t faced a top-25 ranked opponent first up on the green stuff since Albert Portas here in Halle in 2001 – and he lost the opening set then too.
Kohlschreiber has a predictably awful record against Federer and I’m not sure I’d trust him to win this match, but the Swiss is opposable in the side markets here.
The German’s record at home is very impressive, which made it all the more disappointing when he allowed Monfils to get past him last week, but this one looks the match of the day – certainly in Halle and the 3.70 on Kohlschreiber winning set one looks a good ‘long shot’.
Kevin Anderson vs Lleyton Hewitt
Of all the sub-1.50 shots today Anderson seems to me to be the best value when he takes ageing Aussie Hewitt at around 14:00 UK time today at the AEGON Championships.
Hewitt hasn’t beaten a top-20 player since the start of the 2014 season when he had an inspired run in Brisbane and he hasn’t beaten one on grass since a victory over John Isner in Newport in 2013.
This will be his last grass swing and of course he loves playing at Queen’s Club, where he is a four-time winner and he may get inspired by playing here again, but nothing in his recent form suggests he’s up to this.
A straight sets loss to Mahut in round one in Rosmalen was no surprise and he hasn’t beaten a top-100 ranked player since August 2014, with a 1-5 record in 2015 and Anderson should have too much power and keep the veteran on thee back foot here.
Anderson has a good record of late on the grass, winning seven of his last 10 on the green stuff and the pace of this early season grass should help his big serve.
Of the other shorties Grigor Dimitrov could easily struggle against Sam Querrey, while Milos Raonic hasn’t played since limping out of Madrid but faces a poor quality opponent in James Ward.
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez looks very skinny against the equally grass-disliking Pablo Andujar, while Richard Gasquet is playing his first match on grass and takes on the dangerous Simone Bolelli.
Dustin Brown shouldn’t really be 1.40 against anyone capable, so it’s Anderson for me.
Grigor Dimitrov vs Sam Querrey
As mentioned above Dimitrov comes back to Queen’s as the defending champion and with a good reputation on grass after also taking down Andy Murray at Wimbledon last year, but he hasn’t kicked on from there.
This campaign has been a largely disappointing one for the Bulgarian, with two heavy losses in semi finals the highlights of 2015 so far for Dimitrov.
I would probably speculate that off-court issues are to blame for this slump and since that win over Murray he’s managed to compile a 3-14 record against top-20 ranked opponents.
A return to the scene of his triumph of a year ago may help, but it didn’t in Acapulco when he lost to Ryan Harrison in defence of his title there, and he looks much too short against a good grass courter today.
Querrey hasn’t lost his opening match of the grass swing since way back in 2008 when he was beaten by Olivier Patience and five of his six round one matches on grass since then have featured at least one tie break.
Six of his eight completed grass matches last season featured a tie break, while seven of Dimitrov’s 10 did too, so it’s a fair assumption that these two big servers will dish one up today on early season grass.
The set one over 9.5 at 1.55 looks solid, as does the over 22.5 total games at 1.83 in this clash of the former Queen’s champions.
Sure thing: Back Anderson to beat Hewitt at 1.42
Value bet: Back over 22.5 total games in Dimitrov/Querrey at 1.83
Long shot: Back Kohlschreiber to win set one vs Federer at 3.70