Saturday at the AEGON Open in Nottingham sees the last competitive men’s tennis to be played before Wimbledon take place – the 2015 championship match.
We just failed by one hold to secure a set one overs in the Alexandr Dolgopolov vs Sam Querrey clash in Nottingham on Friday in what was the predicted tough day for betting.
Firstly Marcos Baghdatis appeared to tear a calf muscle early on his semi final against my outright pick Denis Istomin, which I suppose was great news for me and Denis, but not so much for Baggy, who may now miss Wimbledon.
Then Dolgo was a set and a break up against Querrey and 1.03 in-running before ending up losing in three sets and my lean towards Querrey proved correct, but it could so easily have been very wrong.
Denis Istomin vs Sam Querrey
I remember sitting in the Eastbourne sunshine six years ago courtside for the very first meeting between these two and being rather surprised when Istomin won it in three sets.
Querrey was ranked two spots lower at number 46 in the world than he is today, but Istomin was too solid for the American and came away a deserved winner in what was an entertaining affair.
Since then the pair have met five more times and Querrey has had the edge in the series, leading it as he currently does by 4-2, but all bar one of their half dozen meetings have been keenly contested affairs.
Indeed, the most recent on outdoor hard in Washington DC in 2013 was won by Querrey 11-9 in a final set breaker and tie breaks have featured in four of their six meetings.
That’s not hugely surprising given the big serve and questionable return of Querrey and Istomin has been serving very well this week too, which makes the 1.61 about their being a breaker on Saturday rather appealing.
Querrey has played four in four matches this week, while Istomin has played two in his four and a bit matches in Nottingham.
The pair have similar styles and Istomin will look to expose Querrey’s more cumbersome movement by using his slick backhand down the line, which he’ll try to keep the big American off balance with.
Querrey has perhaps been a little fortunate to make it here after being in losing situations against Dolgo and Gilles Simon, while who knows what would have happened had Baghdatis not pulled up lame against Istomin.
The court surface is almost in tatters now and dodgy bounces are plentiful and could play a part in what looks set to be a tight encounter with breaks of serve at a premium.
The American has much more experience in finals, with this being his 15th at main level, but his strike rate is only 50 percent and he hasn’t won one since the now defunct Los Angeles tournament in his own backyard in 2012.
The last time he won one outside the USA was at Queen’s Club in 2010 when he was a top-25 ranked player, while for Istomin this will be only his third final at tour level.
Istomin has won his last four at Challenger level, but this will be his first time in a tour level final since another defunct event San Jose in 2012 when he lost to Milos Raonic.
As a 1.40 to 1.60 favourite Querrey has a very good record, with a 7-0 mark on grass and a 54-18 record on all surfaces and 10 wins from his last 11.
Istomin as an underdog of 3.0 or higher has a poor record of 16-68 and he’s lost 20 of his last 21 in that price range, so match odds punters will surely look to Querrey today for the win, but he's a tad short and I prefer the bigger price on there being a tie break.
Value bet: Back over 0.5 tie breaks at 1.61