Wednesday on week 25 of the 2016 ATP World Tour is last-16 day at the AEGON Open in Nottingham, with eight matches scheduled for today.
We enjoyed a good start to Tuesday in Nottingham when Sam Querrey and Ernesto Escobedo landed the value bet with a 10-game opening set before another set one over success with Gilles Muller and Jiri Vesely.
The latter pair went to a tie break before a perfect example of why it’s a very rare day indeed that I trust Denis Istomin, who somehow managed to lose from 6-1 up against Damir Dzumhur.
The less said about that the better, save to mention that Dzumhur was beaten in 53 minutes by Vasek Pospisil a few hours later.
Andreas Seppi did land the ‘sure thing’ for Tuesday in a straight sets win over Malek Jaziri, but one shocking service game from Ivan Dodig that featured two double faults ruined the set one overs against Kevin Anderson and with it the 'long shot' double.
In the third round in Nottingham in 2015 only one of the eight matches went to a deciding set and there was only one underdog winner, which was Yen-Hsun Lu beating Feli Lopez.
Dudi Sela vs Benjamin Becker
There may be a slight bit of value on Sela in this 13:00 UK time clash with old rival Becker, who turned 35 last week, and also on the unders.
This will be the eighth career meeting between the pair of a series that Becker won the first four in and then Sela took the most recent three, but what’s really interesting is that in 17 sets against each other they’ve only played one tie break.
All of their clashes have been on hard, indoor hard or grass, yet only three times have they gone past 10 games in a set and given Sela’s return stats on grass there’s a good chance that trend will continue on Wednesday.
Sela breaks serve 24.5 percent of the time on grass and he only played a breaker against Joao Sousa on Tuesday because he failed to serve it out earlier in the second set.
The Israeli has played only six tie breaks in his last 33 sets of grass court tennis and Becker has played only four in his last 35, so no tie breaks looks good, but there’s also value on Sela here as underdog.
Becker retired with a back injury last week and he’s had to go the full three sets twice already in Nottingham, so I wouldn’t trust his fitness at his age, and Sela seems to have got the German’s number in their last few meetings.
Sela was favourite in Melbourne at the start of this year when they met and he won pretty easily and he’s equally at home on grass as Becker, so I’m not sure about this turnaround in the prices.
Sam Querrey vs Marcos Baghdatis
‘Sure thing’ backers today will find the options a bit thin on the ground in terms of match odds, with only Alexandr Dolgopolov under about the 1.50 mark and most matches looking pick ‘ems.
I certainly wouldn’t trust Dolgo, who has been out injured for a while, although he should beat a likely fatigued (and probably injured himself, given his record) Frank Dancevic.
Instead we’re handed another chance to back over 9.5 games in an opening set of a Querrey match, with the American facing Baghdatis for the fifth time in his career and overs seems likely again.
I mentioned Querrey’s stats yesterday in terms of his hold/break ratio and tendency to go to at least 10 games in set one and Baghdatis has done the same in his last seven matches this season and all five on grass this swing.
Eight of his last nine opening sets on grass have gone past 9.5 games and this looks a much better option than trusting the likes of Dolgo at half the price.
Kevin Anderson vs Fernando Verdasco
The big South African looked really rusty still against Dodig yesterday and painfully so at times, with a fortunate donation from the Croat allowing Anderson to take the opening set far easier than it should have been.
That was one of only two breaks of serve that Anderson managed in 14 Dodig service games and Verdasco has a very good 87.2 percent service hold mark, which is better than Becker, Muller, Dolgo, Baghdatis, Pospisil and Johnson.
So, we should be looking at over 10.5 in set one here, and that can be combined with under games in Adrian Mannarino’s clash with Andreas Seppi.
The Frenchman and the Italian have very similar stats on grass, with Mannarino holding 82.4 percent of the time compared with Seppi’s 82.8, while the latter breaks 21.7 percent of the time and Mannarino 24.1 percent of the time.
So, we’re probably looking at a few breaks of serve here, and all four of their prior meetings have been quick straight sets affairs, with not one of the eight sets going past 10 games, including the one in Rosmalen two weeks ago.
Mannarino is favourite based on that match, but this could go either way and probably in two sets.
Sure thing: Back over 9.5 games in set one of Querrey/Baghdatis at 1.50
Value bet: Back Sela to beat Becker at 2.15
Long shot: Back over 10.5 games in set one of Anderson/Verdasco and under 22.5 games in Seppi/Mannarino at 4.26