The Championships Wimbledon 2014 gets underway on the painstakingly prepared lawns of the All England Club on Monday.
And in action on day one are Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych, all of who look to have comfortable opening round opponents.
David Goffin might give Murray a decent game early on, but the likes of Andrey Golubev, Victor Hanescu and Pablo Carrreno-Busta all come under the category of players who wouldn’t be here but for the improved pay cheque.
There are plenty more clashes that are sure to be more competitive elsewhere though and although I’m itching to take on the likes of Ernests Gulbis, the calibre of opposition isn’t of the required standard.
Dustin Brown vs Marcos Baghdatis
This 13:00 UK time clash between two of the most endearing characters in the men’s game will have the crowds flocking to Court 12 and if I were doing the scheduling I’d be tempted to have this on Centre or No. 1.
It will almost certainly be more entertaining than watching Djokovic destroy Golubev, but anyway, Court 12 it is and it looks to me to have a very strong chance of going over 41.5 games at 1.92.
Brown’s game suits the grass courts, as he showed again when we profited from the German beating Rafa Nadal in Halle a few weeks ago.
He also came to the attention of the once a year tennis watcher when taking down Lleyton Hewitt here 12 months ago and if he finds his best form and is able to keep it up he could certainly end up the winner against Baghdatis here.
Marcos began the grass court swing in his best form for a long time when winning the Nottingham title, beating some very good grass court players along the way, including Benjamin Becker, Kenny de Schepper, Igor Sijsling and Marinko Matosevic.
It was a welcome relief for the Cypriot, who had won just five matches all season up to that point and it wasn’t overly surprising that he retired at Queen’s early on against Stan Wawrinka, as his body would have been hurting after that Nottingham run.
Baghdatis and Brown have met once before, but it was a couple of years ago on clay and it’s not really relevant to today’s meeting, which is likely to be a very swingy affair.
Brown almost always plays brilliantly for short spells followed by stages where he can’t find the court and with Baggy hardly a model of consistency either it has four or five sets written all over it.
I’m tempted with the over 28.5 total games in the Gulbis/Jurgen Zopp match, but the injury prone Estonian can’t be trusted to see matches out and a better option could be to back over the total games in Gilles Simon/Konstantin Kravchuk match.
Simon is no grass court man and hasn’t won a match in fewer than 33.5 games at Wimbledon since beating Guillermo Alcaide here in 32 in 2010 and he looked out of sorts again in Eastbourne last week.
Decent outsiders today include Matosevic against Fernando Verdasco, Sam Groth against Alexandr Dolgopolov and Luke Saville against Dominic Thiem, while short priced backers have plenty of options too.
Sam Querrey, Edouard Roger-Vasselin, Grigor Dimitrov, and Jeremy Chardy look good for odds-on multiple backers, while there are also a few Brits in action today.
Daniel Cox is set to struggle against Chardy and James Ward was a huge disappointment against Donald Young last week in Eastbourne, but will surely do better on Monday against Mikhail Youzhny.
The Russian has been poor all season and Ward is tempting on everything I’ve seen from Youzhny in 2014, but the Brit can’t be recommended after that Eastbourne display.
Back over 41.5 total games in Brown/Baghdatis at 1.92