The quarter finals of the first tour level grass court events of 2015 are all set for Friday at the Topshelf Open and Mercedes Open.
And hopefully the tie break curse that has afflicted us over the last few days will abate on Friday after there was more breaker misery on Thursday.
Marcos Baghdatis looked all over the winner of the opening set against a typically (for 2015) poor Rafael Nadal, whose shanking would have shamed many a club player.
A break up and holding more break points for a double break the Cypriot wasted opportunity after opportunity and ended up losing set one on a tie break after winning one of his nine break point chances. Of course, Baghdatis ended up winning set two on a tie break just to rub it in.
That was painful and it came hit on the heels of Jurgen Melzer failing in a tie break after he also led by a break in set one against David Goffin.
‘Sure thing’ Adrian Mannarino didn’t need a breaker, thankfully, as he eased past Marco Chiudinelli in straight sets.
I don’t see any of the eight matches today having a ‘sure thing’ in them, with 1.32 shots Goffin and Gilles Muller and 1.25 chance Marin Cilic looking far from totally solid, but Cilic looks about the best of the shorties today.
Philipp Kohlschreiber vs Gael Monfils
Monfils’ great record against Kohlschreiber has made the German a backable price in this 11:00 UK time start in Stuttgart against the Frenchman who is a fully paid up member of the grass hating club.
Lamonf produced his usual grass performance in round one, where he gets the win, despite putting about 40 percent effort in and the gap in motivation between he and Kohlschreiber is huge here.
Kohlschreiber has a great record in Germany, where he plays his best tennis by far and of his two career wins over Monfils both came in his home country – one of which was on grass.
Indeed, that grass win for Kohslchreiber in Halle is their only clash so far on the green stuff and the German has a much better attitude on grass than Monfils, who doesn’t hide his dislike for this swing of the tour.
Kohlschreiber has looked very focused so far in Stuttgart in coming through two potentially tricky encounters with mercurial types Alexandr Dolgopolov and Jerzy Janowicz in straight sets and now he faces a third.
Only one of these two will care about this result and I like the -1.5 games on Kohlschreiber here at 1.76
Rafael Nadal vs Bernard Tomic
We have to take Nadal on again here when he faces Tomic at around 13:00 UK time.
Baghdatis will be waking up this morning wondering how he managed to lose to this Nadal and if Tomic plays at the level we saw yesterday against Tommy Haas it should be too good for the Spaniard.
The match-up is a bit of a concern for me, with Tomic preferring balls coming at him low and fast, which doesn’t fit with Nadal’s play, but of course he can’t get the same kind of top spin on these early season grass courts.
Tomic was a little lucky to edge the opening set against veteran Tommy Haas yesterday, but he was always likely to come through that one against the returning German, who’d been out of action for a very long time before this week.
Nadal fans must be going through it at the moment watching the 14-time major champion playing at many notches below that level and quite frankly he’s a shadow of that man right now.
Tomic will not get a better chance to get a win over Nadal on his C.V. and the 2.20 about Tomic winning set one or the 2.33 about him winning the match look good here.
I also like the 2-0 to Tomic at 4.0 as a long shot today, with Nadal needing a big improvement on yesterday’s shanky showing to figure here.
Elsewhere, Viktor Troicki and Sam Groth seem likely to go over 10.5 games in set one of their big serving clash in Stuttgart and the odds-against looks a decent choice in that one.
Rosmalen has been a little different to normal this year, with none of the clay courters making an impression as they usually do, and perhaps Copil is the best value option there today, with Muller looking rather short in that one.
Robin Haase is on a poor run against big servers and has no record to speak of on grass so I’d expect Ivo Karlovic to come through that one and again over 10.5 games in set one seems likely there.
Nicolas Mahut has a good record against Adrian Mannarino, but it was from a while ago, and the latter has shown much improvement this season and it’s his poor record against big servers that puts me off Mannarino here.
He’s lost seven of his last nine against the big servers on my list and although Mahut isn’t that big the style of the grass specialist may combine to annoy the easily frustrated Mannarino.
Value bet: Back Kohlschreiber -1.5 games to beat Monfils at 1.76
Long shot: Back Tomic to beat Nadal 2-0 at 4.0