The men’s singles at Wimbledon 2021 has reached its third round stage and Sean Calvert is back to run the rule over the possible value underdogs in the round of 32 on Friday at the All England Club.
We did pretty well with our round one picks, with Frances Tiafoe not even needing the +1.5 sets handicap in a straight sets underdog win over Stefanos Tsitsipas, while Dominik Koepfer was also a comfortable dog winner against Reilly Opelka, as was Sam Querrey over Pablo Carreno Busta.
Anyone that took the ‘to lose set 1 and win’ in the Karen Khachanov match would also have profited, but instead of winning it 3-2 he won it 3-1 after Mackenzie McDonald let a break lead slip in the fourth.
A few of my other suggestions led to winners as well, such as Marton Fucsovics, Seb Korda and Philipp Kohlschreiber +5.5 games, but Lloyd Harris had a great serving day against Ricardas Berankis.
Overall, it was another profitable round one of a slam for my recommended bets and that’s always pleasing when you’re backing odds-against shots in a major.
Men’s singles – round three
I talked about the good record of underdogs in round three at Wimbledon in my round one preview and let’s see what this round can produce in 2021.
If you’d backed every underdog in round three in the last five editions of the Wimbledon men’s singles for just £10 per bet, you’d be £320 up and 33% of the dogs have won in this round over the last seven editions (35% in the last three editions).
The weather, as predicted, caused a few problems in the first few days and after a day or so without rain it’s forecast to be back for pretty much the rest of the tournament on and off.
The most interesting match for me in round three is the one between my 33-1 Q2 tip Seb Korda and Dan Evans, which looks pretty much a 50/50 clash.
It’ll be a similar sort of challenge to Korda’s previous two matches in the sense that there won’t be a huge amount of power on the other side of the net and if Korda can impose himself he’s got every chance of making the second week.
My big worry with Korda right now is fitness, with the young American already having a support strap under his knee and he looked in some pain when he took a tumble against Antione Hoang, too.
Perhaps the day off will help him a bit, but I am worried about that for sure, and it would probably put me off backing him as slight underdog against Evans if I wasn’t already on him outright.
Korda has been poor at closing matches out this week so far and I also wonder how the nerves will hold up to playing on Centre Court (probably under the roof)?
The winner of that one will face either Frances Tiafoe or Karen Khachanov and this looks a good opportunity for Tiafoe to gain revenge over Khachanov for an unlucky loss that Tiafoe suffered here at Wimbledon against the Russian in 2018.
Tiafoe led 2-0 that day, but fitness let him down and after dropping the third on a breaker he was done and Khachanov eased to the win in the last two sets, dropping only three games in total in the final couple of sets.
Khachanov was always likely to beat Egor Gerasimov, who, despite his big serve, can’t really defend on grass, and this looks like it’ll be a stern test for the Russian.
I’m amazed that Tiafoe, who very rarely does things the easy way, has won his opening two matches in straight sets and that’s the first time he’s ever won two matches at the same major in straights.
He only managed two straight sets wins at the same main level tournament twice last season (Nur-Sultan and Delray Beach) and it would be quite something if he were to beat Khachanov without dropping a set, too.
I’d be inclined to take Tiafoe either 3-1 or 3-2 in this one if you’re having a bet.
One underdog who could well do something at a big price is Fabio Fognini, who has played well so far this fortnight and he usually has the quality and variety to cause big problems for Andrey Rublev.
Rublev played well against Lloyd Harris, but that’s a pretty good match-up for the Russian and he should find things tougher against Fognini, who knows how to play against Rublev, having beaten him five times in seven meetings.
Of course, grass doesn’t entirely suit Fognini, but it’s by no means great for Rublev either, and with plenty of players commenting on how slow the grass is this year (81% holds so far) the Italian has his chances here if fit.
At this stage of his career you never can trust his fitness, but he sounds confident ahead of this one: “He [Rublev] is one of those players who doesn’t have a plan B, but plan A has worked pretty well for a year and a half. I always play well against him, let’s see what we can come up with this time.”
I’d be surprised if this was easy for Rublev and Fognini +1.5 sets at 3.0 is worth half a point on (no more than that, as it’s Fabio and it’s come in from 3.25 initially).
Another underdog that appeals (and another one whose fitness is always questionable) is Marton Fucsovics, who could well be able to overpower Diego Schwartzman.
Fucsovics took Schwartzman to five sets on clay at the French a couple of years ago and in quicker, slicker conditions on grass the Hungarian has a decent chance here for me.
I was toying with backing him against Jannik Sinner in round one, but decided against it and what could be key for Fucsovics this time is that he didn’t have to do too much in his previous round against Jiri Vesely, who retired after nearly two sets.
Schwartzman was made to go four by Liam Broady, whose record on grass is awful and prior to that he had a virtual walkover in the form of Benoit Paire, who was warned for not putting enough of an effort in.
The Argentine has a good record on grass in recent times, so he has to be favourite on the stats, but his good numbers are mainly from 2019, and he’s a player that can be outhit on grass by someone with the power of a Fucsovics.
The Hungarian tends to show his best form at majors and he has a fair chance as underdog here – if this match gets played on Friday, which is questionable looking at the weather forecast.
I’d like to think that Dominik Koepfer has a chance against Roberto Bautista Agut, but at a major I can’t see the German having what it takes to beat RBA over five sets. I don’t see him having the weapons to do it, but I hope I’m wrong there.
Denis Kudla is surely in for a rather tough afternoon against Novak Djokovic, who the American has been unlucky enough to draw three times now in the last two years at majors.
He’s yet to win more than four games in any of his six sets against the Serb in majors (Wimbledon 2019 and the 2019 US Open) so I see no reason why he’ll do any better this time.
Andy Murray comes into his first career clash with Denis Shapovalov on the back of a five setter against Oscar Otte, while Shapo didn’t have to even show up on court to get a pass to round three after his round two opponent withdrew.
So, a clear fitness advantage to Shapo there you’d think, but I wonder if the grass master Murray can dredge up a few things from his box of tricks to bamboozle his less experienced opponent on this surface?
Shapo took the full five sets to beat Philipp Kohlschrieber in round one and he’s shown plenty of nerves at Wimbledon in his career so far, so I’m toying with the idea of backing Murray to win set one at 2.75 (Bet 365).
Murray’s clearly not at the level he was a few years ago, but I think he still believes in himself and he’s always had a fine record against left-handers, so combine that with likely nerves on the part of Shapo and I’ll take a chance for half a point.
With rain in the forecast for most of the day up until about 5pm local time we may have to wait for some action on the outdoor courts, but with Korda (and Murray) on Centre we’ll at least have some guaranteed interest on day five.
1 point win Fucsovics to beat Schwartzman at 1.95 (several firms)
0.5 points win Fognini +1.5 sets to beat Rublev at 3.0 (Unibet)
0.5 points win Murray to win set one at 2.75 (Bet 365)