It’s been a very successful start to the grass court swing for this column and that was added to on Saturday when Feli Lopez took the Aegeon International title in Eastbourne.
The culmination of the mini-season begins on Monday with The Championships, Wimbledon at the All England Club, where the tennis starts at 11.30am on the outside courts and 1pm on the show courts.
Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Rafa Nadal are all in action today, but the most interesting match on the show courts will surely be Lleyton Hewitt against Stan Wawrinka, which is scheduled last on Court 1.
Hewitt has been burning up the practice courts here by all accounts and if he is able to transfer that form to the playing arena today he has every chance of taking down the number 11 seed at a price of around 2.20.
The Aussie veteran seems to be over a lot of the injury problems that have plagued him in recent years and he’s played some fine stuff on the grass in the last year, beating the likes of Juan Martin Del Potro and Marin Cilic and pushing Novak Djokovic close.
His semi-final run at Queen’s ended in disappointment when Cilic defeated him in a rain-affected match that was moved to a different court, but against a player who has a so-so record on grass such as Wawrinka, Rusty has a chance in what looks likely to go to at least four or probably five sets.
Wawrinka capitulated in the final of Rosmalen at the weekend and he’s not been past the second round at Wimbledon since 2009, although it’s fair to say that his link-up with Magnus Norman has heralded a distinct upturn in form.
It’s a fascinating clash and one that could be similar to their Davis Cup rubber on grass in 2011 when Stan won in five. Over 40.5 games looks very likely at 1.83 and that is just preferable to the 2.20 for the Hewitt win.
Elsewhere on the main courts, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga should have few problems with the out of form David Goffin and it looks a similar story for Cilic against Marcos Baghdatis, who is awful at the moment and has Zeljko Krajan currently tinkering with his game.
Cilic is playing well and he looks good to win with a –1.5 set handicap. Likewise, Mikhail Youzhny should be far too good for Robin Haase on grass and he can be backed in a double with Cilic.
On Court 14, John Isner looks vulnerable at 1.28 against the man who beat him in Rosmalen last week - Evgeny Donskoy. The courts at Wimbledon are not likely to help Isner’s game any more than those in the Netherlands.
Isner has a poor record at Wimbledon, with just two wins lifetimes here – one of which was the farce against Nicolas Mahut and the second of which was against the same opponent a year later – and I’m not too sure why he’s 1.28 for this.
Donskoy is inexperienced on grass, but beating Isner and Robin Haase before losing to eventual champion Mahut in Rosmalen is a good warm-up and I like the Donskoy +1.5 sets at 2.45 in this one.
Of the bigger prices today, I quietly fancy Viktor Troicki to have a squeak against Janko Tipsarevic, but I don’t like betting on matches between mates as a rule. Elsewhere, if Pablo Andujar is ever going to win a match on grass it could be today against the awful Adrian Mannarino.
Kyle Edmund also has a chance against an injured Jerzy Janowicz at 5.60, while Kenny de Schepper looks short at 1.53 against Paulo Lorenzi and Bastian Knittel is not without a good chance against the grass-loathing Juan Monaco at a nice price too.
Among those who look to be purely here for the improved first round losers cheque today include Adrian Ungur, Igor Andreev and Jurgen Zopp, but you won’t get rich backing against them.
Back over 40.5 total games in Hewitt vs Wawrinka at 1.83
Back Donskoy +1.5 sets to beat Isner at 2.45
Back Cilic –1.5 sets and Youzhny –1.5 sets in a double at 1.80
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