It was another up and down day in Newport on Thursday, with one winning bet and a frustrating loss. I called both matches correctly, but unfortunately Milos Raonic was so bad that he managed to lose in straight sets, thereby scuppering my overs bet.
I said yesterday that the big Canadian has been unconvincing on grass so far in his short career and that Benjamin Becker would push him close and after a stack of unforced errors combined with pretty poor serving, Raonic was comfortably beaten. He managed to get just 50% of his first serves in, which handed the German – who wasn’t overly impressive himself – a free pass to the last eight.
At least Ryan Harrison did the business for us in the day’s first match by defeating Jesse Levine in straight sets. The American now meets Becker in one of today’s remaining quarter-finals. That match has been priced up with Harrison the 1.80 favourite and I’m sticking with him again today to (in all probability) set up an intriguing semi-final clash with John Isner, who takes on Izak van der Merwe in the day’s opening singles clash.
Harrison and Becker are meeting for the first time on the ATP Tour, but the stat that jumps out at me is that the win over Raonic was only Becker’s second in 13 attempts against top-50 ranked opposition stretching back to 2010. So the only players of note he has beaten in two years were Raonic, who had a shocker, and Ernests Gulbis, who was somehow ranked at number 23 around 18 months ago.
Becker is at home on the grass, but even on that surface he’s been beaten by the Viktor Troickis and Radek Stepaneks of this world lately. Harrison should be looking at this as a fine opportunity to reach the last four and I’m happy to take Harrison as my bet in this one.
The Isner versus van der Merwe match has been priced us as a formality for Isner, with the big man available to back at around 1.12, but the stats tell us that it might not be so straightforward. Isner has lost nine of his last 12 matches against players over 6’4” in height and the 6’5” South African is certainly in with a shot based on that criteria.
He’ll definitely be up for this match in what will be his first ever ATP Tour level quarter final outside of his home country and only his second anywhere. Van der Merwe has had to battle to get here, having played five matches here in Newport so far this week, with every one bar his win over Jack Sock going the distance. Van der Merwe has played out six tie-breaks so far this week already and it looks pretty certain that there’ll be another one today against tie break specialist Isner.
Isner normally wins around 60-65% of the tie-breaks he plays.His opponent today is on an impressive run of 75% in the last 12 months, but most of those were at Challenger level. If Isner has one of those days where he can’t buy a return of serve, the South African has a shot today at a big price of around 6.0 but the safer bet looks to be the overs.
The total games mark has been set at 22.5. With two big guys banging down the aces at least one tie-break looks likely, so I’ll take the overs at around 1.90
Back Harrison to beat Becker at 1.80
Back over 22.5 games in Isner v van der Merwe