I said yesterday that Matteo Berrettini was getting to grips with grass now and in hindsight I chose the wrong bet to oppose Karen Khachanov with, as the Italian beat the Russian in two sets.
Elsewhere, Robin Haase managed to convert a 5-3 lead into a 5-7 loss on the resumption of his clash with Cristian Garin, but I stull think Garin was a poor price at 1.58 in that match.
Adrian Mannarino scraped through to the last eight in Rosmalen on the outright front, but it was a disappointing day in the sense that those underdogs that I felt could cause problems for the favourites went on to win: Denis Kudla, Dustin Brown and Berrettini to name three.
I said in my outright preview that Stefanos Tsitsipas may well suffer from a French Open hangover here, but I didn’t feel that Nicolas Jarry’s movement would be good enough on grass to take down the Greek.
There’s more bad weather expected in Rosmalen on Friday morning, with play likely to be delayed by rain there, but it’s forecast to be fine in Stuttgart, where it’s due to be warmer at around 25C.
Our 33-1 shot in Stuttgart, Marton Fucsovics, faces a repeat of last year’s round two loss to Milos Raonic and I had expected that Raonic probably wouldn’t make it this far due to a lack of matches and fitness.
And he may not make it past this one, as he has looked rather stiff and had back rubs in his opening two matches so far, but if he is fit Fucsovics will need much better than he showed against Basilashvili in the last round.
The Hungarian was way too passive and content to rally and wait for errors, which nearly cost him and almost certainly will again if Raonic is fit and Fucsovics plays that passively.
Raonic rolled over him last year and while I’m hopeful that Fucsovics can do something his record against big servers is patchy and interestingly only two of his 11 matches against the big servers in my database has featured a tie break (0.13 tie breaks per set).
There wasn’t one against Raonic here last year and 3.20 about no breakers looks value, with the pressure of having to hold serve likely to crack Fucsovics if Raonic is fit.
And I also like the 3.35 about over 29.5 games in the clash between Denis Kudla and Matteo Berrettini, which is first up on Centre Court on Friday.
These two have met five times in the past, with Kudla winning three of them, including one in Dubai earlier this season when he won 12 fewer points and got away with one a bit.
But they’ve never met on grass and Kudla’s flat, low ball should pose problems for Berrettini, whose movement will be really tested here on grass if the American serves well.
The Berrettini second serve won’t kick up anywhere near as high as it did in Dubai, making it more attackable for Kudla, who as I said in yesterday’s preview, is a handful for most on this surface.
Kudla has held serve 84.3% of the time against Berrettini on hard courts and beaten him three times as underdog and it seems to me the layers are leaning a bit too much towards the Italian here.
If Berrettini is to win this I can’t imagine it’ll be easy and another long match for Kudla looks likely here.
I’m also tempted by backing Lucas Pouille as slight underdog against Jan-Lennard Struff, who I’m a bit surprised to see being made favourite on grass for this one.
Pouille has won all of their last three meetings, including on grass both here and in Halle in 2017 and the Frenchman was around a 1.70 favourite for both of those, so what’s changed?
Well, perhaps the good recent form of Struff compared to Pouille has caught the eye of the layers and he’s played well here so far this week, but the opposition hasn’t been great in Shapovalov and Kecmanovic.
On all-time grass court stats it’s Pouille that narrowly edges it, but Struff’s win percentage on this surface is a measly 32% compared to the 60% of Pouille, which is a glaring difference.
Pouille is the better mover and has the power and grass court skills to take the game to Struff and expose the weaker defensive side of the German’s game and after two good wins over fine grass courters in Lopez and Medvedev he’ll be confident.
Struff has never beaten a top-20 player on grass and is 4-12 against top-50 opposition on this surface, so the layers are taking a chance on Struff here for me and I’m happy to take Pouille.
At the Libema Open in Rosmalen our man Adrian Mannarino faces a tricky one in the form of David Goffin, who Mannarino has never beaten in four tries, but he’s yet to face the Belgian on grass.
Grass is where we usually see the best of Mannarino and there’s very little to separate this pair in terms of service hold/break stats on this surface, but Mannarino has a much better win rate (59.2% plays 50%).
It’s a tough challenge for Mannarino against a good mover like Goffin, but if ever the Frenchman had a shot of beating Goffin it’s on grass.