Tuesday at the AEGON International began in great style when my 2.70 tip Yen Hsun Lu came from match points down to defeat Julien Benneteau. After a great start, Lu looked down and out at 5-2 behind in the final set, but Benneteau’s notoriously shaky nerves hit him again and after double-faulting on his first match point he allowed Lu back in. The Chinese Taipei star, who may not go much further in this tournament given his injury troubles and time spent on court lately, eased through the breaker 7-4 to cause heartbreak for Benny and give us a nice payout.
There was an element of fortune about the second bet, where Sam Querrey retired at 2-5 down in the first set against Andy Roddick after an awful, error strewn seven games. All bets were off in that one, meaning stakes were refunded and so it was a profitable day in the end.
I don’t like the look of any of the odds-against shots on the men’s side today, so I’m starting on the women’s side. The opening match at Eastbourne represents a decent chance for a winning start to the day at a nice price, as Heather Watson takes a shot at world number 21 Lucie Safarova.
The Guernsey girl is around 2.0 to score another win over the left-handed Czech after thrashing her 6-2, 6-1 on the hard courts of Miami earlier this year. We know that Watson has improved her game since then – as she showed at Roland Garros – and we also know that she enjoys playing on grass, which can’t be said of Safarova these days.
The Czech player reached the final of her first ever event on grass back in 2005, but she’s done nothing since and had won just two games in her last six grass court tournaments prior to this week. Lucie struggled badly as the 1.14 favourite against Timea Babos in the opening round here, eventually prevailing 8-6 in a final set tie breaker against a player who is competing on grass for the first ever time this year.
Watson had a decent straight sets win over the imposing Hungarian Greta Arn in the first round and she’s worth a bet to repeat that feat today against Safarova.
On the men’s side, it’s worth betting against the players who have had enough grass court practice already and Yen Hsun Lu certainly falls into that category. Having played four very long three-set matches in the last week and retired from a fifth, I’m deserting the man that made us money yesterday in today’s clash with Ryan Harrison.
The American was lucky to get through against Pospisil in the first round but he should be keen for more grass practice, whereas Lu, who is carrying an injury, may be easy prey today. His second serve was getting absolutely battered by Benneteau yesterday and a lot of that must be down to fatigue after playing 14 sets (six of them tie-breaks) in the past week.
He may have saved 11 of 16 break point chances against the Frenchman, but I doubt that Harrison, who won their only career meeting so far last year in LA, will be so generous. He looks a good bet at 1.85
Of the real outsiders today, the only one that I would back would be Jamie Baker at small stakes against Phillip Kohlschreiber. The German is several classes above Baker, but may feel that he’s had enough court time on grass. He didn’t impress against Go Soeda in round one and Baker will be flying after a comfortable win over Donald Young in his own opener here.
I wouldn’t back Kohlschreiber to beat anyone at 1.10 and it’s worth taking a small chance on the Brit today at 6.50.
Back Watson to beat Safarova at 2.0
Back Harrison to beat Lu at 1.85
Back Baker to beat Kohlschreiber (small stakes) at 6.50