The quarter finals of the ATP 250 AEGON Open in Nottingham are scheduled for Thursday and by the looks of it we should avoid the threat of rain.
The forecast suggests a 20 percent chance of rain and that should be enough to get a full day in, although the rest of the week is less certain.
On a peculiar day four in Nottingham we found a good underdog winner in the form of Dudi Sela, who overcame a bit of a choke to defeat Benjamin Becker as a 2.15 chance.
Those on the unders in the Adrian Mannarino versus Andreas Seppi match would also have profited, but it was a frustrating day for set one overs backers.
Marcos Baghdatis started appallingly against Sam Querrey and donated his opening service game with two double faults in a dismal 1-6 first set against the American.
Only a choke from Querrey from 5-2 up in the set two tie break prevented a straight sets win for Querrey and it was Baghdatis who came through after Big Sam had recorded only his second ever 6-1 opening set win on grass at main level.
Kevin Anderson produced a perfect serving display of 20 points to nil in his opening set against Fernando Verdasco and there’s not a lot anyone can do about that, but of course the second set went to a tie break (as Anderson also did on Tuesday).
Dudi Sela vs Andreas Seppi
I said in Wednesday’s preview of the Sela v Becker match that no tie breaks was a decent wager and the same is true of this 16:00 approx. UK time clash with Seppi.
The Italian has played only two tie breaks in his last 27 sets of tennis at main level on grass, while Sela has played only five in his last 32, so 1.68 about no tie breaks seems pretty good to me.
And with two players clashing that are above average in breaking the serve of their opponents on grass we shouldn’t see one today, as we didn’t in any of their three previous career meetings.
They were all a long time ago and don’t hold any relevance to today’s match, but with Sela breaking 24.4 percent of the time on grass and Seppi 22.1 percent of the time opportunities should be aplenty.
The Italian should win this match, with Sela having only a 5-10 record in main level quarter finals (0-4 on grass), while Seppi has much experience in these matches having played 55 of them (won 23).
Seppi has won eight of his last 11 against opponents ranked between 51 and 100 and he’s 10-3 on grass as a sub-1.50 favourite, while in those 13 matches (39 sets) he’s only played five tie breaks.
Gilles Muller vs Alexandr Dolgopolov
Today’s ‘long shot’ features Dolgo, who seems to have recovered from the injury problems that have blighted him in recent months and he has a decent chance as underdog against Muller in this opening match of the day at 12:00 UK time.
The Dog loves to take on a big server and his own serve will be vital today, with the Ukrainian having achieved an 85.6 percent service hold mark in his career on grass, which isn’t too far off Muller’s 89.3 mark.
He returns a lot better, as you would expect, with 16.4 percent of his opponents’ service games won, but it’s still not that great a number, and a tight one is likely here.
Muller’s return stat of just 10 percent is particularly dire and it’s better value to go with the set one overs in this one rather than the obvious choice of Anderson vs Steve Johnson.
Dolgo won their only prior encounter, which was a few years ago on indoor hard, and he’s won seven of his last 11 against the big servers on my database, plus his last nine in a row against left handers, so I’m happy to take a chance on him today.
Interestingly, the last lefty not named Rafael Nadal to beat Dolgo in straight sets was Michael Llodra at Eastbourne in 2010, which was 38 matches ago, and nine of his last 12 wins against lefties have been in straight sets.
If we’re going to risk the mercurial talents of Dolgo we may as well go all in and the 2-0 at 3.80 is today’s ‘long shot’.
There’s nothing that I’d consider a ‘sure thing’ today, with Baghdatis hardly a good value 1.27 chance against Pablo Cuevas in a clash of two players who both should have lost yesterday.
Cuevas has been posting some decent numbers on serve this week and if Baggy has another day where he can’t buy a first serve that 1.27 will have a few punters shuffling uncomfortably in their seats.
Anderson also looks very short at 1.48 against Stevie Johnson and I certainly wouldn’t have Anderson down as a cert here, with the American in good form in the last week or so on the grass, and considering that the pair have only played two tie breaks in 14 sets of tennis against each other so far in their careers the 1.3 about a tie break today looks short.
Anderson is yet to be broken this week and Johnson has held 95.3 percent of the time, so it's quite possible, but I'd probably only consider backing Johnson in this one at these prices.
Value bet: Back no tie breaks in Seppi/Sela at 1.68
Long shot: Back Dolgopolov to beat Muller 2-0 at 3.80