The first grass court titlists of the season will be crowned on Sunday in Rosmalen and Stuttgart , while qualifying continues in Halle and at Queen’s Club.
And Rafa Nadal has his beady eyes firmly set on the driver’s seat of the Mercedes car that Stuttgart winner receives after landing my ‘sure thing’ wager yesterday against a typically lacklustre Gael Monfils.
Nadal was a straight sets winner against the Frenchman, who turns up for the grass swing literally to make up the numbers.
More misfortune followed that one though when Marin Cilic blew his chance for a 2-1 win over Viktor Troicki from a break up in the deciding set.
An abysmal service game and even worse deciding tie break were the undoing of my long shot wager, while my rotten luck in tie breaks continues.
Again, the set one overs was defeated, only to be followed by two straight tie breaks, and I can’t recall one breaker falling my way so far this grass swing.
Rafael Nadal vs Viktor Troicki
At around 13:30 UK time Nadal attempts to land his first grass court title since Wimbledon back in 2010 in what will be his first final on the green stuff since the following year’s Wimbledon.
Troicki is into his first ever grass court final, following Cilic’s failure to see out their semi final yesterday, and he will take his fifth crack at Nadal after losing his first four meetings with the Spaniard.
The pair haven’t met since the autumn of 2010, so the head-to-head doesn’t hold much relevance, although from Troicki’s point of view he did push Nadal very close that day on quick hard in Tokyo.
Troicki has a 4-4 record in finals at main level, while Nadal’s is 65-29, but taking clay out of the equation it’s 19-21 and on grass it’s 3-3.
Rafa has won only one of his four finals away from clay since the US Open of 2013 and that was against Gael Monfils in Doha last season, but this looks the most straightforward final not on clay since that 2010 Wimbledon final against Tomas Berdych.
Indeed, Nadal has only played five finals away from clay against players ranked outside the top-20 and the last time he lost one was against David Nalbandian in Paris back in 2007.
Troicki’s record against top-10 opponents is awful though, with only four wins in 55 tries and one in the last 38, and I think we’d be backing him more in hope than any real reason today.
Again, I like the over 9.5 games in set one at 1.67, despite the rotten luck we’ve had on that this week, but the 2-0 to Nadal also looks good at 1.70.
As I said yesterday, I have no interest in David Goffin matches, but obviously with my 100-1 outright on Nicolas Mahut I’ll be hoping for a French win in Rosmalen in one that looks a real coin toss.
Mahut must be tired by now, while I couldn’t trust Goffin, so that’s one for me to watch and hopefully not suffer.
Vasek Pospisil vs Ricardas Berankis
This qualifying match in Halle looks the best place for a ‘sure thing’ today, with the quick, low-bouncing conditions at the Gerry Weber Open surely unlikely to suit Berankis.
The Lithuanian had lost 10 of his previous 12 on grass before beating Austin Krajicek in qualies yesterday, but the latter is in awful form and lost to Britain’s Josh Milton in Manchester and world number 1427 Thomas Schoorel in Rosmalen.
Pospisil is beginning to find his feet on the grass and a demolition of Matthias Bachinger 6-2, 6-0 won’t harm his chances, plus he has beaten Berankis in two of their three prior meetings.
The Canadian did lose the one on grass to Berankis but that was back in 2012 and Pospisil, after producing a raging fit when he lost a really tight one to Gilles Muller last week, is looking better on the grass these days.
Berankis has never beaten a top-100 player on grass and I’d expect that to continue here.
Of the other quali matches I wouldn’t count out Tim Puetz against Alejandro Falla, but I never like backing against the Colombian, and he does have big ranking points to defend in Halle this week.
Yen-Hsun Lu appeals, but he’s playing my other nemesis Denis Istomin, and I did consider Simone Bolelli, but he’s come up a bit short in price for my liking against Edouard Roger-Vasselin, so I’ll stick to two bets today.
Sure thing: Back Pospisil to beat Berankis at 1.25
Value bet: Back Nadal to beat Troicki 2-0 at 1.70