I have been enjoying avoiding matches involving Karen Khachanov, as it seems to be a more enjoyable way of living life. Nevertheless, I am heading back into deep waters and getting involved in another match with the erratic Russian.
This tournament holds a little more significance for Pouille than it does for Khachanov. After taking extended time off the tour in 2020 after undertaking elbow surgery in July, it has been a cautious return to the top level for the Frenchman. The important thing in his return is his ability to now play without pain, something he had to deal with for an extended period of time. After an up-and-down return to the tour in 2021, he looks to be slowly piecing things together. Pouille is on the verge of dropping out of the Top 100, so it is an important stretch of time on tour ahead for Lucas. He has gradually improved across the course of his 7 sets on grass in the last week, and finished qualifying strongly with a straight set win over Sousa without dropping serve. He has a grass title to his name, and a run to the second week of Wimbledon, so he is by no means lost on the grass. This looks to be a generous game handicap and moneyline price here for him against Khachanov.
Khachanov spent the majority of his match with Rublev finding his feet on the grass again. He lost in straight sets whilst putting 76% of his first serves in play, and on return was unable to earn a break point opportunity. Casting an eye back over his career on grass and whilst it isn’t the worst form, he certainly hasn’t set the world on fire in the conditions over his career.
Khachanov is 4-7 in his last 11 matches coming into this match. If he were more successful on the clay recently I could see the confidence translating for him to the grass, however with Pouille able to notch a few wins in qualifying, as well as receiving a +3 game handicap against a player that looked lost returning both the first and second serves of Rublev last week, I cannot pass up the handicap option here.
I will also make a small play on the moneyline here for Pouille.
1.5 units Pouille +3 games vs Khachanov at $2.03 at Topsport ($2.06 at Pinnacle)
0.75 units Pouille to defeat Khachanov at $3.25 at Unibet ($3.29 at Pinnacle)
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