Tennis - This Week's Preview
Wimbledon is over for another year and while it was disappointing most of the men’s and women’s seeds and promising young players failed to deliver or exited the tournament early, we were still treated to a wealth of world class and quality matches and both finals were contested by proven top class players, who were all seeded. After a tentative return to the tour after injury and months of frustration combined with progression, eleventh seed Djokovic announced his return to the top of the men’s game by winning a third Wimbledon title on Sunday.
The final was one-sided ending 3-0 as eighth seed Anderson, who was contesting his second Grand Slam final, was understandably jaded after his epic five set quarter and semi-finals wins against Federer and Isner. There was a new winner of the women’s title as Kerber defeated hot favourite Serena Williams in another one-sided final 6-3 6-3. Serena proved even the game’s best get nervous in Slam finals and this was her undoing as she ended up beating herself by serving below her best and crucially she made more unforced errors than winners. This was former world number one Kerber’s third Grand Slam title and it was the second time she defeated Serena in a Grand Slam final, after beating her at the 2016 Australian Open.
On to this week and its back to the ATP action and it’s a busy week with no less than three tournaments. The European clay court swing recommences with two clay court events in Europe at Umag, Croatia and Bastad, Sweden and there’s the final grass court tournament of the season over in Newport, USA. I will start with the Newport event, which has attracted an experienced competitive field. It includes the likes of ATP Tour grass court title winners Johnson, Muller, 2018 Eastbourne winner Mischa Zverev and veteran Mahut, who all line up for a shot at winning another ATP Tour grass court title this week.
The top two seeds have a good record at Newport making seven of the last ten finals. The top seed has won three of the last ten titles (last Isner 2017) and they were never a losing finalist during this period. The second seed has won two of the last ten titles (last Karlovic 2016) and they were a losing finalist twice during this period (last Karlovic 2015). Seeded players in general have a strong record at Newport and a player seeded no higher than five won seven of the last ten titles and a player seeded no higher than six was a losing finalist seven times during this period. Unseeded players have experienced limited success at Newport over the last decade, winning three of the last ten titles (last Ram 2015) and they were a losing finalist twice during this period (last Ebden 2017).
From a tournament betting perspective, the statistics over the last decade suggest siding with an experienced veteran who is seeded six or below or unseeded, and who has proven form on grass during their career. Top-seed Mannarino and second seed Zverev are both in great form on grass this season and if you follow my tennis blogs on Monday’s you will remember I advised Mannarino to win Antalya and he reached the final, and I advised Zverev to win Eastbourne and he duly delivered at 25/1. However, both Mannarino and Zverev have losing head-to-head records against some of the potential main dangers like Johnson, Muller and Mahut who are in their respective sections of the draw and that is enough for me to avoid advising them this week.
Third seed Johnson (7/1) and Mahut (20/1) are both proven players on grass having won ATP Tour titles and finals on grass during their careers. Johnson’s form on grass this year has been below his best, but a return to home soil and grass should get him motivated again. Mahut has the best career record on grass having won all four of his ATP Tour titles and two finals on the surface. If they both produce their best grass form this week they should be challenging for the title come Sunday.
I will analyse Umag first of the two European clay court tournaments this week and it’s attracted a competitive field with the likes of second seed and recent Antalya winner Dzhumur, third seed and French Open semi-finalist Cecchinato and defending champion and fourth seed Rublev, who is returning from injury having not played since Monte Carlo back in April. The top two seeds don’t have a great record at Umag over the last decade and the top seed has won two of the last ten titles (last 2009) and they were never a losing finalist during this period.
The second seed won two of the last ten titles (last 2012 Cilic) and they were a losing finalist once during this period (last Robredo 2014), which does not bode well for Dzhumur’s chances this week. Seeded players in general have a strong record at Umag and a player seeded no higher than five won eight of the last ten titles (last 2016 Fognini) and a player seeded no higher than five was a losing finalist seven times over the last decade (last 2017 Lorenzi). Unseeded players have performed reasonably well at Umag over the last decade winning two of the last ten titles (last Rublev 2017) and an unseeded player was a losing finalist three times during this period (last 2016 Martin).
From a tournament betting perspective, the statistics over the last decade suggest siding with an experienced European clay courter who is seeded three to five. No such players appeal from a betting perspective so instead I’ll focus on unseeded players because an unseeded player made five of the last ten Umag finals over the last decade. Players who fit the profile are Bedene from the top half of the draw and Vesely and Lorenzi from the bottom half of the draw. Of the three Bedene (22/1) and Vesely (20/1) appeal the most from a tournament betting perspective as they are both proven performers on clay. Bedene has made two ATP Tour finals and Vesely one ATP Tour clay final so far in their careers, they have either a winning head-to-head record or winning form against most of the potential main dangers in the draw, and if they can both produce their best clay form this week they should be serious contenders for the title.
At Bastad seventh seed veteran Ferrer returns to defend his title and with a host of other talented clay courters like top seed Schwartzman, second seed Carreno-Busta, third seed Fognini and fourth seed Gasquet lining up this week, we should be in for a great week of tennis on the Swedish east coast. The top-seed does not have a great record at Bastad winning two of the last ten titles (last 2012 Ferrer) and they were a losing finalist once during this period (2010), which does not bode well for Schwartzman’s chances this week. The second seed has only won one of the last ten titles (2009) and they were a losing finalist three times during this period (last Robredo 2015), which does not bode well for Carreno-Busta’s chances this week. Seeded players in general have a strong record over the last decade and a player seeded no higher than eight won seven of the last ten titles (last Ferrer 2017) and a player seeded no higher than eight was a losing finalist in eight of the last ten finals (last Verdasco 2017). Unseeded players have a reasonable record at Bastad winning three of the last ten titles (last Paire 2015) and they were a losing finalist twice during this period (last Dolgopolov 2017).
From a tournament betting perspective at Bastad the statistics over the last decade suggest opposing the top two seeds and siding with a player seeded three to eight, who is a European clay court veteran. Third seed Fognini (9/2) fits the profile, especially as he’s been a prolific winner on clay during his career and he’s continued that trend this season winning the fifth ATP Tour clay court title of his career at Sao Paulo, the semi-finals at Geneva and quarter finals at the Rome Masters 1000 Series. If he can continue that level of form this week he has a decent chance of winning a sixth ATP Tour clay court title.
From a first round match betting perspective there’s a few matches that I have analysed which I think are good value and will hopefully return a profit. At Umag Basilashvili and Lorenzi lead their respective head-to-heads against Lajovic 2-0 and Donskoy 2-0 and I think both players are playing well enough to continue that trend today. At Newport, Kudla, Smyczek and Young all lead their respective head-to-heads against Bemelmans 2-0, Fratangelo 5-0 and Pospisil 3-1, and with all three beating their respective opponents over the last year and a half, there’s no reason why they cannot continue that trend on this occasion.
Bedene EW (22/1)
Vesely EW (20/1)
Fognini WIN (9/2)
Mahut EW (20/1)