It’s the turn of the bottom half of the draw to play their opening round matches at Wimbledon on Tuesday, with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer among the stars on show.
Dustin Brown and Marcos Baghdatis got the week off to a good start for this column on Monday, with the predicted tight tussle that went past the overs mark for a good winner.
We start play on the outside courts at 11.30 UK time and the first match that catches my eye takes place second on Court 9.
Dudi Sela vs Mikhail Kukushkin
I have to side with the little Israeli in this 13:00 UK time clash with Kukushkin, who is hardly one to hang about on grass and comes here with a 2-11 record on the surface and a 0-1 record against Sela.
So, there’s not a lot going for the Kazakh in this one against a player who has beaten the likes of Andy Roddick, Gilles Muller, Tommy Robredo, Bernard Tomic and Sam Querrey on grass in recent years.
Sela is a former winner of the Nottingham grass Challenger and his results on this surface far exceed anything achieved by Kukushkin, whose only win in a main draw on grass came at Eastbourne in 2011 over the injury prone Yen Hsun Lu.
Dudi proved too good for today’s opponent in Kukushkin’s own backyard last year on hard courts in the Astana Challenger and 1.72 seems more than reasonable about Sela today, with Mikhail’s Wimbledon record of 0-3 and zero sets won in the main draw looking likely to continue.
Roger Federer vs Paulo Lorenzi
This match-up has all the hallmarks of a thrashing for poor old Paulo, whose record against the top players is shocking and littered with matches where some less than stern resistance has been in evidence.
Lorenzi is 0-7 versus the top five, which is understandable for a clay court journeyman, but it’s the amount of hammerings that he’s taken which is a feature of these matches.
Novak Djokovic beat the Italian for the loss of just two games in New York two years ago and for the loss of two again in Melbourne the same season, while Tomas Berdych dropped just six in New York last season.
Paulo doesn’t have the weapons to compete with the top guys and the minus 9.5 games on Federer looks well worth taking at around 1.75, with the Swiss likely to put on an exhibition in the latter stages.
Lorenzi’s record on grass is predictably poor and if Federer serves as well he did in Halle in his last outing he should easily pass the handicap here.
Jerzy Janowicz vs Somdev Devvarman
JJ comes here with huge pressure on those big shoulders, needing to get close to the semi finals again to avoid a big drop in the rankings and his form is nowhere near where it needs to be.
Having won only eight of 20 matches on the tour this year he suffered a bad opening round loss to Pierre-Hugues Herbert in Halle in his only grass warm up event and is fortunate that he faces the minimal grass skills of Devvarman today.
I’d like to take JJ on, but Devvarman isn’t up to it in all probability, however the over 9.5 games in set one looks very likely here.
Janowicz very rarely wins openers in fewer than 10 games, with only two occurrences of this in tour matches and majors in 2014 so far from 20 tries, which makes 1.71 about the set one overs mathematically appealing.
Back Sela to beat Kukushkin at 1.72
Back Federer –9.5 games to beat Lorenzi at 1.75
Back over 9.5 games in set one of Janowicz/Devvarman at 1.71