Week two of Wimbledon 2016 begins with all eight of the men’s fourth round matches on Monday at The All England Club, with a virtually rain-free day forecast for Day 8.
The earliest of the men’s matches begins at around 13:00 UK time and looking back at this round 12 months ago we saw three underdog winners from the eight matches; five matches featured at least one tie break; two went to five sets and two were straight sets wins.
Marin Cilic vs Kei Nishikori
This 13:00 approx. UK time start on Court 2 will be the 11th career meeting of a series that Nishikori leads 7-3 in, but the pair have never met on grass and Cilic has won two of their three clashes at Grand Slams.
The Croat was a convincing winner over a disappointing Nishikori in the US Open final of 2014 and since then they’ve met twice, with Nishikori coming out on top on hard courts in final set deciders in Tokyo and Washington DC.
Six of the last nine sets they’ve contested against each other have ended in a 6-3 score line and none of the last 17 sets in this match-up has gone to a tie break and there have only been four in all 30 sets in total.
Purely on that basis the under 1.5 tie breaks appeals, with Nishikori having played only one tie break in his last 28 sets, and Cilic has played only three in his 23 sets on grass this summer so far.
They may play one, but two seems unlikely on those numbers and 1.42 on under 1.5 breakers could well be a ‘sure thing’ for Monday.
But I prefer siding with the bigger game of Cilic here, with the Croat having lost only to either Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray here since 2011, and he’s made the last eight in each of the last two years – only to lose out to Djokovic.
Nishikori is into only his second last-16 match at Wimbledon and on grass I’d rate Cilic higher on his day, with a career service hold mark of 87.1 percent (93.7 this season on grass) to Kei’s 84.5 percent.
Both players can break on grass too, with Cilic posting a 17.3 percent service break mark in his career (19.9 this season) and Nishikori’s break record is 23.1 in his career.
It has the feel of a tight affair, but there again so did that 2014 US Open final, and I think there’s a bit of value in the underdog here at 2.25.
Tomas Berdych vs Jiri Vesely
This tournament has been a breakthrough one for several players on grass, including Lucas Pouille, and Vesely is certainly one of those, with a previous best at Wimbledon of the last-32 in 2014.
And that run was made up of a round one retirement and a five setter over a reluctant Gael Monfils, so while this last-16 showing in 2016 is a surprise Vesely has enjoyed a pretty comfortable draw again.
It’s all about the serve on grass for Vesely, with a career hold mark on grass the same as that of Berdych of 89.5 percent (and that rises to 93 percent this campaign), but a service break mark of 11.3 percent for his career (and 8.8 percent this season) tells a tale.
Berdych has been pretty good so far this fortnight and he should have too much game for Vesely, who won’t be able to play on the front foot as he has against the likes of Joao Sousa, and his defence on grass isn’t great.
I wouldn’t be too confident about his movement on grass either when confronted with the heavy hitting of his fellow Czech, who had no problems winning their only career clash last season on outdoor hard in Shenzhen.
Berdych breaks far more often than Vesely at 18.4 percent for his career on grass and 29.2 percent this year on the green stuff (from a small sample, as all this year’s figures are on grass).
He also has a better record in tie breaks on grass than Vesely and -1.5 sets at 1.50 or the outright win at 1.22 look the ones for ‘sure thing’ punters on Monday.
Bernard Tomic vs Lucas Pouille
Pouille hadn’t won a match at main level on grass until he came to The All England Club last week and now there seems to be no stopping him after a fine display against an admittedly fatigued Juan Martin Del Potro.
The Del Potro win came after successes over Marius Copil and Donald Young and the Frenchman seems the likeliest of the bigger-priced underdogs to prevail when he faces Tomic on Monday in a first career meeting.
I can’t trust Tomic at 1.32 and especially after all his moaning about fatigue. He’s also lost 11 times in his career as a sub-1.40 favourite and in two of his seven matches in that price range on grass.
Bernie’s grass stats for this season and his career are very similar, with 86 percent service holds and 16.9 percent service breaks overall, but Pouille this year on the green stuff is at 86 percent holds and 19.8 percent breaks, which is very decent.
Again, it’s from a small sample, but Pouille hasn’t been afraid to come to the net and try his luck there, which he did very well against Delpo, and he could make this a tricky afternoon for the Aussie if he is a bit below his best physically.
You’d be well in profit if you’d have backed Pouille as a 3.0 underdog or bigger since the start of 2015, with the Frenchman successful 10 times from 28 matches and in a price range of 3.06 to 5.23.
Sure thing: Back Berdych -1.5 sets to beat Vesely at 1.50
Value bet: Back Cilic to beat Nishikori at 2.25
Long shot: Back Pouille to beat Tomic at 3.40