We’re into the second week at Wimbledon 2015 and as far as the men’s tournament is concerned it’s business as usual for the top seeds.
Only Rafael Nadal’s loss could perhaps be seen as a bit of a surprise, but not based on his performances and general level of play in 2015 and Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Roger Federer have all made fairly smooth progress.
We ended week one with a winner for my ‘sure thing’ when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Ivo Karlovic played over 1.5 tie breaks in their third round encounter.
But I went a bit too bold on Gilles Simon, who did indeed defeat Gael Monfils, but failed to do it in three or four sets in a match that was moved to Centre Court from No.1 due to the fading light.
Last year’s fourth round stage of the men’s singles produced seven winning favourites from eight matches, with Rafa Nadal’s defeat as a 1.07 shot to Nick Kyrgios being the only underdog winner.
Novak Djokovic vs Kevin Anderson
Anderson heads into this sixth career meeting with Djokovic in the best form of his career, something that has not escaped Djokovic’s attention, and the Serb is sure to be ready for a challenge here.
The pair haven’t met for three years, so their prior meetings aren’t really relevant, and the South African at least has the tools to give the Serb a reasonable test if he serves as well as he can.
Djokovic has lost only one of his last 15 against the big servers on my database and that was early in the season against Ivo Karlovic in Doha.
The world number one hasn’t been tested at all so far this tournament, which is rather disappointing, but if Anderson brings his best game to the court on Monday he can make this an awkward test for Djokovic.
Much improved on grass of late Anderson’s best chance is to start serving a very high first serve percentage and keep Djokovic cold with short, sharp rallies – in extended exchanges it’s hard to see Big Kev keeping up.
Anderson has been an underdog priced at 11.5 or bigger on six occasions in his career and he’s yet to win a set in any of those half a dozen matches, with only one set in 15 going past the 10 games mark.
Four were against Djokovic and two were against Andy Murray and in all against the top-five, discounting Wawrinka who he seems to have sort of curse over, Anderson is 3-18 in completed matches.
Djokovic will surely win this one, but Anderson should have few problems covering the over 8.5 games in set one at 1.21, which is Monday’s ‘sure thing’.
Only twice in his last 13 matches on grass has Djokovic played an opening set of eight games or fewer and Anderson has never in 55 matches on grass lost an opening set 6-2 or worse.
Marin Cilic vs Denis Kudla
Out reigning US Open champion will be delighted about his day off on ‘middle Sunday’ after a real battle with John Isner that spilled over from Friday to Saturday thanks to fading light.
Cilic should have won that match much earlier, so many chances on his own racquet did the Croat have, but he allowed all his opportunities to slip and was fortunate that he served first in set five.
That’s two really tight encounters that Cilic has come through now after a battle with Ricardas Berankis in the second round and that may well stand him in good stead in the coming matches.
Assuming he gets past Kudla that is and the last American standing could well pose some problems for Cilic, although fatigue may be an issue after some long matches in week one.
Kudla went five with Santi Giraldo and Pablo Cuevas and four with Alexander Zverev, so he might be feeling it, but he’ll be delighted to have made week two of a major.
He certainly can play on grass, as he’s proven on numerous occasions, but he’s yet to take a set from a top-10 opponent in three tries, although he hasn’t faced one for two years now.
His confidence will be as high as it could be and he has a fine chance of keeping it close against Cilic in their first career meeting, seeing as he is on a run of eight matches unbeaten right now.
In seven of those he’s won the opening set and the other one was a tie break loss and he can keep it tight enough early on to make the 2.65 about over 10.5 games a good value pick.
Gilles Simon vs Tomas Berdych
For my ‘long shot’ pick on Monday the underdog that has a live chance is Simon, who has a good record against Berdych and rates higher than the Czech in my grass court rankings.
I’ve never been much of a fan of Berdych on grass and if Simon plays a smart match he can edge this one 3-2 at a price of 9.0.
The Frenchman has won four of their last six meetings and that includes two on quick outdoor hard in Shanghai and he does enjoy soaking up the Berdych pace and moving the big man around, which is something Berdych doesn’t enjoy.
Making Berdych hit on the move is key to beating the Czech, who should have been made to go five sets by both Jeremy Chardy and Pablo Andujar this week.
The Berdman looks an awful price here, with Simon in good grass form this summer and siding with Gillou at 2.95 or in a decider at 9.0 both seem good choices.
There will probably be periods where Tomas is too strong and a long match looks likely as is Simon’s general style.
Sure thing: Back over 8.5 games in set one of Djokovic/Anderson at 1.21
Value bet: Back over 10.5 games in set one of Kudla/Cilic at 2.65
Long shot: Back Simon to beat Berdych 3-2 at 9.0