ATP Tennis Betting: Breaks of serve unlikely when Cilic and Karlovic clash

It’s semi finals day in week 24 of the 2017 ATP World Tour on Saturday, as the Ricoh Open and Mercedes Cup near their conclusions in Rosmalen and Stuttgart.

We got a very nice early winner on the board in Stuttgart on Friday when Feli Lopez scrapped his way to a deciding set win over Tomas Berdych and covered the -1.5 games handicap for a 3.75 success.

Lopez fought off all nine break points he faced in that one, with four coming in his opening service game of the deciding set, but the Spaniard was brave and got his rewards in the end.

And on a day where there were few tie breaks we got a bit of fortune in the ‘no tie breaks’ wager in Rosmalen when Marin Cilic won the last five games in a row to take set two against Vasek Pospisil.

At 5-5 that one was looking dicey, but it proved to be a very good day to back ‘no tie breaks’ with even Gilles Muller and Ivo Karlovic not producing one between them.

The weather forecast looks okay at both venues for Saturday, with cloud and perhaps a slight chance of some rain and temperatures around 20C. Not a great deal of wind either, so we should get all matches completed in that case.

Marin Cilic vs Ivo Karlovic

As the matches become fewer as we head into the weekend so the value is harder to come by, but I’ve got to like the chances of over 1.5 tie breaks in this all-Croatian clash in Rosmalen at around 16:00 UK time on Saturday.

Over their last 10 matches each on grass at main level they’ve held serve 93.9% and 95.8% of the time, which leaves the obvious conclusion that a tie break or two is pretty likely.

Combine that with the fact that all four of their completed prior clashes have involved at least one tie break and they’ve never met on grass up until now and there’s pretty strong grounds to believe this match will be won on the odd point here and there.

Karlovic has been playing some excellent tennis this week and somewhat incredibly he hasn’t played a single breaker yet in Rosmalen, winning all four of his sets without any getting that far.

The last time that Karlovic played back-to-back matches on grass with neither featuring a tie break was at Queen’s in 2008 – and the next match he played in that tournament went to three breakers to make up for it.

Never in his pro career on grass going back to 1999 has he played three straight matches (even overlapping tournaments, let alone the same one) without at least one tie break, so history would be made if this Cilic clash didn’t have one.

The veteran is delighted at his form this week so far and if he continues in that manner 2.85 about more than one breaker looks decent.

Both Zverev brothers are in semi final action on Saturday, with Alexander Zverev in Rosmalen taking on Gilles Muller and Mischa Zverev in Stuttgart facing Feli Lopez and it could turn out to be a very good week for the Zverev family.

Alexander has been playing very well indeed so far at the Ricoh Open, but he should face a much sterner test from last year’s Rosmalen finalist Muller than he has so far from a feeble Adrian Mannarino and fatigued Julien Benneteau.

It’s a test I would expect Zverev to overcome, but the only wager I like is the 2.43 about no tie breaks in this one, with Zverev playing very few on grass so far in his career (0.11 per set in his 19 main level matches).

His break of serve mark of 27.8% on grass in his last 10 matches is superb and he should be able to break Muller at least once per set on current form.

Over in Stuttgart the clash between Lopez and Zverev the elder is a tricky one to call, with the Spaniard likely to be a bit fatigued after two three-setters and perhaps having that back issue that I mentioned yesterday to consider too.

He does have a 3-0 head-to-head record against Zverev, but they’re yet to meet on grass, and Zverev has certainly had the easier time of it and should be motivated playing at home.

Their grass hold/break stats over their last 10 matches each at main level on grass are very similar, with Zverev 1.4% ahead, but it looks a bit of a 50/50 call, this one.

Finally, a battle between two Frenchmen takes place at (not before) 15:00 UK time in Stuttgart and given Benoit Paire’s poor record against fellow countrymen and in semi finals generally Lucas Pouille seems the likely winner.

Paire has lost his last seven semi finals at main level on all surfaces and he’s managed to win only one set in those seven matches, while versus Frenchmen he’s won 11 of his 32 main level matches.

On many occasions we’ve watched Benoit breeze into the semi finals of tournaments playing well (he’s yet to drop a set this week) and then be blown out with barely a whimper in the semis.

The -3.5 games on Pouille at 2.95 looks the one here in a first meeting between them on grass (1-1 overall), with Pouille by far the more likely to play the better tennis on the day.

Anything’s possible with Benoit of course, so I’m only prepared to risk a 0.5 point double on Pouille on the handicap and no tie breaks in the Muller/Zverev match.

Best Bets
1.5 points win over 1.5 tie breaks in Cilic/Karlovic at 2.85
0.5 points double Pouille -3.5 games and no tie breaks in Muller/Zverev at 7.17