Monday wasn’t the start to the grass court season I was hoping for, as my wager on Karolina Pliskova was sunk without trace on day one of the Aegon Classic.
It was a slightly strange opening to the grass swing, with some puzzling results, such as defending champion Melanie Oudin losing heavily to Ajla Tomljanoivic, Mathilde Johansson overcoming Petra Cetkovska comfortably, while Ayumi Morita and Su-Wei Hseih were beaten seeds on the day.
Tuesday’s schedule in Birmingham kicks off with an intriguing clash between Yulia Putintseva and Yanina Wickmayer, which features the former playing her first match on grass and the latter on a dreadful run. That will be worth watching purely for the entertainment value, but I don’t think I’ll be betting on it.
Heather Watson is also in action, but has a tough-looking match against Melinda Czink, who beat the Brit on grass in 2011. And with Watson still to prove her fitness after glandular fever I’m not tempted by the 1.65 on her today.
Tara Moore and Johanna Konta are also playing today and the latter has the better chance of progressing, but I think 1.50 is too short in her match with Kurumi Nara.
The first round match I like from a betting perspective is to take a chance on Casey Dellaqua to cause problems for the inconsistent Daniela Hantuchova.
The Slovak can beat anyone or lose to anyone on any given day and, at the moment, she’s on a losing run and hasn’t won more than two matches in a row in any tournament this season.
Dellaqua has a good record on grass and has enjoyed a couple of decent wins over Vera Dushevina and Caroline Garcia in qualifying here already this week, which will give her an advantage over Hantuchova, whose last match on grass was at the Olympics last year. The 2.64 on Dellaqua is worth an investment in this one.
There are also four second round matches on the card today, and it’s always worth noting when Tamira Paszek is the underdog on grass against someone of the level of Alison Riske.
This pair played last week on the grass in Nottingham when Paszek retired after tweaking a hamstring, and Riske defeated Paszek at the same tournament last year.
Paszek has been awful this year and has had health and injury problems that have added to her woes, but she normally comes alive this time of year on the grass and it’s a question of when she will.
The other interesting match-up takes place at around 5pm between two Americans that have just seven career matches between them on grass, including the two from yesterday.
Jamie Hampton is the 1.50 favourite against Madison Keys, but I like Keys’ game on grass and if she can improve her movement, which should come with more matches, she could be a force on this surface.
Hampton defeated Su-Wei Hseih yesterday, while Keys edged past Lesia Tsurenko, but she should improve for that match and my concern about her is her heavily strapped thigh, but she can outhit Hampton and Keys is worth at least a set here.
Back Dellaqua to beat Hantuchova at 2.64
Back Keys +1.5 sets to beat Hampton at 1.62