We’re in Eastbourne and Antalya this week, as the grass swing continues, and in recent times both of these two tournaments have produced a healthy ratio of underdog winners.
In the two years that Eastbourne has been back on the men’s tour it’s produced 26 underdog winners from 54 matches (48%), while in the two years that Antalya has been on the tour it’s seen 22 underdog winners from 53 matches (42%).
Those are big numbers indeed, but over a short amount of time, and in those same two years (2017 and 2018) 49% of Antalya’s matches have featured at least one tie break, compared to 41% in Eastbourne.
With these two tournaments ending a day earlier than most due to the major next week it’s a busier start to the week than normal, with 16 matches on the card across both venues.
It’s set to be another very hot day in Antalya on Monday, with 36C heat expected (it’ll still be 31C at 20:00 local time), but a cloudy one, with a chance of showers in the afternoon in Eastbourne.
Hubert Hurkacz vs Marco Cecchinato
I was rather surprised to see Cecchinato rated as a 2-1 underdog for this opening match of the day on Court 2 in Eastbourne at 11:00 local time on Monday.
Granted, Cecchinato is always likely to be more comfortable on slower surfaces, but have the layers forgotten that the Italian defeated very capable grass courters Denis Istomin and John Millman en route to the semi finals here a year ago?
It was no fluke either, as he held serve 87.5% of the time here last year and won 77% of the points on first serve and 50% on second serve in his three matches.
He also took a set off Alex De Minaur at Wimbledon in his next grass tournament and since then he’s played only one match – against Milos Raonic last week at Queen’s – and he didn’t stand much of a chance there.
But Hurkacz is no Raonic. In fact he’s so far proven to be poor on grass, losing both of his main level matches without winning a set and breaking serve a measly 3.9% of the time.
And that was against Joao Sousa and Bernard Tomic, while he also lost in straight sets to Cristian Garin in Wimbledon qualies last season, so he’s not been facing the elite of the men’s grass court game (with the exception of Bernie, of course).
He didn’t look at all comfortable against Sousa, with his movement once again an issue and at these prices I’m more than happy to chance Cecchinato.
If Sam Querrey is fit then 1.75 about him beating Mikhail Kukushkin on grass looks decent, but we’d be putting faith in him being fit after an abdominal injury kept him out since early April.
Moving on to Antalya on Monday and I did consider Prajnesh Gunneswaran as underdog against Janko Tipsarevic, with the Indian one player on the card today that more than anyone is sued to playing in severe heat.
He’s played 142 career matches in India and he showed a decent level on grass last season, which leads to me to think he may be good enough to really test out the suspect fitness of Tipsarevic.
Gunneswaran hasn’t shown enough this grass swing for me to risk him though and another possible underdog option is our outright Bernard Tomic, who if he fancies it on the day, is certainly capable of taking down Andreas Seppi.
I think one bet is enough for me on Tomic though and perhaps reigning champion Damir Dzumhur as underdog against Matt Ebden might be a better option.
Dzumhur landed the title here a year ago (when it was a fair bit cooler) and will be very keen to defend those ranking points, but how fit is he after withdrawing from Halle last week?
Ebden hasn’t been in great form at all so far this grass swing, with two wins from five matches, and I wonder, given that he didn’t really come to the net much last week in Halle against Radu Albot, if he’ll be able to take down Dzumhur from the back of the court?
But the one I like at the prices on Monday is Cecchinato and he’ll be my one bet on day one.
1 point win Cecchinato to beat Hurkacz at 2.95