We’re back at Queen’s Club and the Gerry Weber Stadion this week on the ATP World Tour as the grass swing continues in London and Halle, where both events usually produce about an average frequency of underdog winners.
In Halle they’ve had 32% underdog winners in the last six years, while at Queen’s Club that mark is 31% – but as I mentioned in my outright preview there are quite a few more tie breaks at Queen’s: 52% of the matches featuring one, compared to 45% in Halle.
The weather forecast looks set fair in both London and Halle for Monday, so we should get a full day’s play in at both venues.
Matthew Ebden vs Radu Albot
The first match I want to look at today tales place in Halle at 11:00 UK time on Court 1 between Ebden and Albot and I think it’s worth taking a chance on the underdog here.
Albot has had a great season and even managed to be effective on the clay, where he’s usually struggled in the past, and the Moldovan has compiled a very decent service hold/break total mark of 103 on all surfaces at main level so far.
He’s holding serve far more often than he used to a year or so ago when he’d hold about 65% of the time on all surfaces and he’s now up to 79% service holds – and that’s after a spell on the clay.
Since winning the title in Delray Beach he’s been a different player and I don’t see the switch to grass stopping his march, as he moves really well, which is much of the battle on a grass court – and he's won 9 of his last 14 on rgass at all levels, including as underdog against Carreno-Busta and Bedene at Wimbledon last season.
If we’re going purely on this season’s stats then Albot should be a heavy favourite here, as Ebden is 2-10 win/loss in 2019 and with a hold/break total of just 86.1, which is poor at this level.
The Aussie is favourite purely on his grass court reputation, but in fact his grass hold/break total in his last 10 matches is the same as Albot’s at 102.3.
Ebden certainly has been effective on grass in the past, but he hasn’t shown anything for a long while now and he was poor again last week in Rosmalen, winning only 29% of his second serve points against a weak returner in Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
He’ll need a far better level than that if he wants to beat the determined Albot and I’m happy to take a chance on Albot at 2.16 in this one.
Elsewhere in Halle, Steve Johnson, as I said in my outright preview, has every chance against Philipp Kohlschreiber in the opening match of the day on Stadion.
Johnson was unlucky to lose to Gael Monfils last week in Stuttgart and with Kohlschreiber struggling for form lately Johnson has the opportunity to cause a minor upset.
Joao Sousa isn’t without a chance against Hubert Hurkacz, who’s rather inexperienced on grass, and if the Pole’s game doesn’t transfer to grass better than it has so far Sousa will take advantage, even on a bad surface for the Portuguese.
Robin Haase has caused plenty of problems for the struggling Alexander Zverev in the past and in a first career clash on grass the Dutchman can mix it up well enough to five Zverev a lot to think about.
I’m not in the mood to trust Haase at the moment after last week though when he turned a break lead in both sets into 5-7 losses against Cristian Garin in Rosmalen.
Over 21.5 games is worth thinking about in that one if you’re prepared to trust Haase.
At Queen’s Club the aforementioned Cristian Garin may well make former champ Marin Cilic work hard, with Garin the more attuned to the grass after a fair effort in Rosmalen, where he should have beaten Borna Coric.
In theory, the Cilic game on this surface should be too strong for Garin, but Cilic has been lacking form this year so far and Garin winning a set here wouldn’t be much of a shock.
Alexander Bublik was one that I was thinking about when the qualifiers were put in the main draw, but I was hoping he’d be underdog against Diego Schwartzman, and it looks like Bublik will be favourite.
Bublik’s unorthodox game and big serve could well be a nightmare for Schwartzman on grass, but I’m not sure I fancy backing Bublik at odds-on.
Nicolas Mahut could be an option as underdog against the inconsistent Frances Tiafoe, but the veteran Frenchman has had a couple of tough three setters back-to-back in qualies, which puts me off him at his age.
Kevin Anderson will surely be a tad rusty after his time off due to tennis elbow, but is Cameron Norrie good enough on grass to take down even a rusty Anderson? I’m not convinced that he is.
So, I’ll just start with one bet on Monday.
1 point win Albot to beat Ebden at 2.16