The rain came to North Carolina on Wednesday and appeared to wash away some of the ability that formerly graced the racquet of one Jurgen Melzer.
The Austrian who was in the top-10 just a year ago should be thoroughly ashamed that he allowed statistically the 66th best service returner in the men’s game (in reality he’s a lot lower than that) to create nine break points in two sets against his leftie serve.
He also lobbed in five double faults and frankly we would have had a more competitive match had Michael McClune taken any of his match points and gone on to face Isner.
Feli Lopez was also awful against Sam Querrey on a bad day for the lefties, but at least David Goffin came up trumps – just – by winning against the stubborn Lukasz Kubot and those following my advice of avoiding backing Andy Roddick would have done well too as he was stunned by Steve Darcis.
It’s quarter finals day in Winston-Salem today and history tells us that last year there were two winning favourites from four matches, with two ending in straight sets and two going the distance.
The first match up today on Centre Court at 5pm UK time is an intriguing third clash between Steve Darcis and Tomas Berdych.
The diminutive Belgian has caused the big Czech all sorts of problems in the past and has won all four sets contested between the pair so far – on grass and clay.
This will be their first meeting on a hard court and I would expect that to favour Berdych, but Darcis, as I said yesterday, is regularly underrated and Roddick found that out to his cost on Wednesday.
He would probably prefer to play Berdych on clay, but it wouldn’t be immediately obvious that grass would have allowed him to take down the higher ranked player either.
Darcis has been the betting underdog in all three of his matches here in Winston-Salem so far this week and he’s yet to drop a set. He also has an excellent betting rating over the last year and the last month in particular, so if you’d backed him in every match over those periods you’d be very much in profit.
He’s 3.90 to beat Berdych today, which is worth chancing purely on recent form and past meetings, but the 2.15 about him taking a single set also looks good.
Another betting underdog worth backing today is Alex Dolgopolov, who looks like he’s on one of his ‘go’ weeks in this tournament after a couple of shockers in Toronto and Cincy.
These are famous last words of course with Dolgo, who can put in woeful performances at the drop of a hat, but at 1.94 against a limited ball basher like Querrey it’s worth a punt.
He’s beaten Querrey in straight sets on both occasions that they’ve met in the past, with both meetings taking place on hard courts – one a few weeks ago in Washington.
Querrey has a lot to play for in that he’s a leading contender for the US Open Series prize, but his big serve/big forehand game has been dealt with pretty comfortably by the canny Dolgo previously.
The Ukrainian has been quietly impressive so far here this week and his wins over David Nalbandian and Yen Hsun Lu have both come with the minimum of fuss in straight sets.
It’s always a risky play backing Dolgo, but at the prices it could be well worth it – if he turns up today.
Best Bets: Back Darcis +1.5 sets vs Berdych at 2.15;; Back Dolgopolov to beat Querrey at 1.94.