The quarter finals of the AEGON Open are in-play in Nottingham today, while the final round of qualifiers for Wimbledon also take place on Thursday at Roehampton.
I’ll be down in Roehampton with my little notebook, seeing what’s what ahead of next week and as ever there are some intriguing matches there today.
Wednesday’s wagers yielded two winners from three, with my ‘value bet’ and ‘sure thing’ both successful, while the ‘long shot’ failed to find the mark.
Sam Querrey took down Pablo Cuevas in fairly turgid style in two breakers, while the over 10.5 games in set one of Leo Mayer vs Jiri Vesely landed a 2.38 winner in Mayer’s 7-6, 7-6 victory.
Gilles Simon has been a thorn in my side this week, coming from nowhere to beat Marcel Granollers on Tuesday, and he had enough energy to come back and beat Joao Sousa yesterday, which was surprising given that it’s so close to Wimbledon.
Luke Saville vs Luca Vanni
The young Aussie is very much at home on the grass and this 11:00 UK time final round of Wimbledon qualifying match should go the way of Saville.
He has won 76 percent of his matches on grass at all levels and a year ago he qualified for Wimbledon and went on to beat Dominic Thiem before losing to eventual semi finalist Grigor Dimitrov.
With the final round of qualies being played over the best of five sets rather than the best of three that we’ve had up to this stage the better player should have more of a chance and Saville has much more experience than today’s opponent on this surface.
Indeed, Saville beat Vanni in straight sets on grass at the Surbiton Challenger a fortnight ago, so all the signs do point to an Aussie win here.
Of the 16 final round quali matches a year ago there were seven underdog winners, but prices were tight, with Alex Kuznetsov’s 2.32 win over Tim Smyczek being the biggest priced winner.
Only five of the 16 matches ended in straight sets last year and only one match had a favourite of shorter than 1.55 and that was Gilles Muller, who was a 1.22 shot to beat Adrian Menendez-Maceiras (which he duly did).
It seems rather different this year though, with nine of the 16 matches today featuring a sub-1.50 favourite and for me Saville appeals as a ‘sure thing’.
Marcos Baghdatis vs Simone Bolelli
All four of the Nottingham quarter finals could easily go either way and are priced as such, but the best value seems to lie with Bolelli in the opening match of the day at the AEGON Open.
Bolelli has won each of their previous career meetings, including a simple win on outdoor hard in January, and Baggy’s price here seems to be based on the assumption that he’s back to his old form.
A win over a hardly committed David Ferrer and the inexperienced Alexander Zverev may not amount to that much and this his now his equal best result of the season at main level in terms of matches won in one tournament.
Bolelli has had a fine season and he has posted only two losses to players ranked outside the top-50 all season.
One was a defeat by Viktor Troicki back in January when the Serbian was ranked 92 and the other was on slow clay to Victor Estrella Burgos and the Italian is 13-3 in 2015 against players ranked 51 and lower.
As ever with Baghdatis much depends on his serve and he’ll need to be at his best in that department to keep the aggressive, big hitting Bolelli at bay today.
All the matches are tough to call today, but the 2.38 on Bolelli looks the best value price in Nottingham on Thursday.
My ‘long shot’ today is a double at Roehampton that would pay around 4.10 if successful and it concerns Britain’s last man standing Dan Evans.
The former Davis Cup star Evans has been in a slump of late, but having survived match points to reach this stage of Wimbledon qualifying and a potential fine for ‘lack of effort’ he has a shot as an underdog today.
Evans has often found controversy easy to come by and on the way to dropping the second set against Matthias Bachinger he was warned by the umpire after a tame drop volley attempt in what was a tanked set of tennis.
I wouldn’t be trusting Evans as a favourite, but he should fancy this one and Yuichi Sugita is certainly beatable, although it will be tough, as the Japanese has some solid results at this level on grass to his name.
He looks a tad short at 1.57 today and I’m going to chance Evans and combine him with Ivan Dodig to beat Horacio Zeballos with a 5.5 game handicap.
Dodig has some excellent results to his name on grass and he’s here in qualies after a poor year in singles play that has seem him drop outside the top-100.
He’s certainly had enough grass court practice after making the Ilkley Challenger semis last week, while Zeballos rarely plays on grass and is likely to fade away in the latter stages of this one if he’s a couple of sets down, which he probably will be.
Sure thing: Back Saville to beat Vanni at 1.35
Value bet: Back Bolelli to beat Baghdatis at 2.38
Long shot: Back Evans and Dodig -5.5 games at 4.10