The ace count looks set to continue to rise at the Hall of Fame Championships on Thursday, with three big servers in action today.
Ivo Karlovic, Sam Groth and Nicolas Mahut will all be worrying the line judges and testing out the speed guns on the slick grass of Newport from around 17:30 UK time today.
Yesterday saw a pretty dismal display from Ante Pavic, who fell apart after failing with all seven of his break point chances against Lleyton Hewitt in set one and allowed the veteran Aussie only his third straight sets win since week one.
It was a tricky day for punters overall, with some predictably bizarre results on the European red clay of Stuttgart and Bastad, which is fairly standard the week after a Grand Slam.
Samuel Groth vs Nicolas Mahut
This 17:30 UK time start has all the makings of a clash involving two or perhaps even three tie break sets, with the overs being set high as expected at over 23.5 games.
In his 11 matches this grass swing Groth has chalked up 15 tie breaks, winning 10 of them, while Mahut is less reliant on Jimmy Van Alen’s creation to win his matches on this surface.
Mahut has played eight matches on grass this season, winning five, and tie breaks have been involved in five occasions in those matches.
The Frenchman has more to his game than Groth, whose back court game is somewhat limited and this one will be a battle for control of the net, with both enjoying coming forward to finish off points at net.
Nico is the more comfortable of the two to rally from the baseline and his overall skills are superior, but that doesn’t mean he won’t lose 7-6, 7-6, as Malek Jaziri did against Groth yesterday.
Mahut played well in an easier than expected win over Luke Saville yesterday and he should be winning this match, but in his first career meeting with Groth it will probably take a while to break and the over 10.5 games in set one at 1.87 appeals.
The Aussie will need to find a way to get to the net in Mahut’s service games to have much of a chance of winning without tie breaks and it seems unlikely he’ll be able to do that with any regularity and at least one breaker looks assured here.
Dudi Sela vs Ivo Karlovic
The Israeli takes a 0-5 head-to-head against the big Croatian into this 19:00 UK time match and there isn’t an awful lot going for Sela in this one.
Standing just 5’9” (175 cms) tall compared to Ivo’s height of 6’11” (211 cms) the only factors in his favour would be movement and an ability to reach the lower bouncing balls that are prevalent on these Newport courts.
He did beat big-serving Sam Querrey here last year, although if I recall correctly that was another epic choke from Big Sam that allowed Sela to escape a certain straight sets defeat.
In those five meets with Karlovic, Sela has managed to win just the one set, which was on a tie break on hard in Melbourne six years ago and in total the set score in the series reads 12-1 to Dr Ivo. Dudi has also broken Ivo on only one occasion.
Dudi’s record against top-100 players with a height of over 6’4” reads 9-17 and against top-50 opponents in that category it’s 2-11, with the two wins coming over Victor Hanescu and Lukas Rosol.
Karlovic was able to ease past Sergiy Stakhovsky last night in two sets after the Ukrainian blinked at the vital time, as so many of Ivo’s opponents do, with Stako being broken at 5-6 in set one before failing to serve out set two at 5-3.
Not taking your chances is not going to get it done against Karlovic, who delivered 18 aces and won 37 of his 40 first serve points against Stakhovsky.
In the 10 sets played against each other at tour level only three have been tie breaks and Sela is likely to lose hope and/or interest should he go a set behind here, which makes the 1.59 about Karlovic minus 2.5 games a good choice.
Back Karlovic –2.5 games to beat Sela at 1.59