Proper grass court tennis is on the agenda for week 28 of the 2021 ATP Tour, with the players heading to Newport, Rhode Island, USA for the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships and there’s also clay action in Hamburg and Bastad.
After the stodgy green stuff at Wimbledon that saw the fewest tie breaks for many a year and the likes of Nick Kyrgios bemoaning its lack of speed, the players are in Newport this week for a real grass court test, but first a look back at what went on at the All England Club.
The luck hasn’t gone our way this grass swing (so far) with once again both of my outrights losing from winning positions and at short odds in-play.
Our 33-1 Q2 bet Seb Korda looked great at a set up on Karen Khachanov, but faltered from there before arriving at twice a break up in a crazy final set in the last-16.
Korda lost that one from 1.15 in-play with a winnable quarter final against Denis Shapovalov to come and that was rather disappointing.
Somehow, Daniil Medvedev managed to lose at a shorter price though, failing from 1.04 against Hubert Hurkacz after a rain delay halted the match overnight and on the resumption Medvedev had an absolute shocker.
From a personal point of view my each-way ante-post bet on Matteo Berrettini at 60s proved a good investment as the Italian made his first major final and gave me a 30-1 payout.
Conditions and trends
This week has been very kind to me over the years on the outrights, with numerous good-priced winners and each-way runners-up, so I usually look forward to this week more than I do Wimbledon.
In Newport, only one man (John Isner on four occasions) has ever won the title as a number one seed and there have been some very big-priced winners and runners-up here over the years.
150-1 Rajeev Ram was the wager that saw Sky Bet effectively ban me back in 2016 and Ram was also the last man to come from the qualifying draw to win Newport, which he did in 2009.
Matt Ebden made the final as a qualifier in 2017, but generally it hasn’t been a great tournament for the qualifiers.
They play on an old-fashioned, slick, low-bouncing grass court in Newport and big servers have tended to have the best of things here in recent years.
In Bastad they play on what, according to the numbers, is probably one of the slowest clay courts on the tour and it’s situated right next to the beach, so it’s often tricky with the wind.
The weather forecast for Bastad looks like it has quite a high likelihood of rain for the first four days of the tournament, so it’ll probably play very much on the slow side.
No qualifier has ever made the Bastad final in the Open era and number one seeds don’t fare well either, with none even making the title match since David Ferrer won here in 2012 – in four of the last five editions the top seed has lost in round two.
Qualifiers do have a superb record in Hamburg though, with three finalists in the last eight years coming from the qualie draw, while the only number one seed to have taken the title here since it became an ATP 500 in 2009 was Rafael Nadal.
Indeed, the number one seed has only made it to the quarter finals once in the last four years at the Rothenbaum, where it looks like they’ll need the rood this week, as thunder storms and rain are expected until Friday.
Usually it’s pretty slow clay here in Hamburg, with the tournament ranking towards the bottom of the list in terms of service holds and tie break matches. The centre court’s CPI was clocked at 25.5 on a sunny day last September.
Hall of Fame Open – Newport
This draw looks really open and top seed Alexander Bublik looks ripe for becoming another number one seed to fail in Newport.
Bublik is a former finalist here, but he rarely shows the discipline required to win tournaments and I’m happy to take him on here.
It would be nice to see Ivo Karlovic roll back the years, but he’s not even favourite to beat Bernabe Zapata Miralles, who’s yet to win a match on grass, and Dr Ivo doesn’t look like he’s got a lot left to offer now.
But the one I don’t mind taking a small chance on at 80-1 is the very streaky Brayden Schnur, who’s the sort of player that could emulate the likes of Ramanathan and Ram and go on a tear in these conditions.
Schnur has done nothing at main level since making the New York final indoors in 2019 at a similar price to his 80s this week and when I say ‘nothing’ I do mean nothing, with a 0-8 record since losing that final to Opelka.
But if his serve is firing he might start to feel it and beating Lukas Lacko 6-0, 6-4 in qualies is an interesting result on grass, plus he’s held serve 89% of the time in qualies, winning 83% of first serve points won and 76% on second serve against Lacko.
He’s got a winnable round one against Jason Jung, who he beat 2 and 1 the last time they met and I don’t mind taking a punt at this price on Schnur.
The more sensible bet though would be to take Kevin Anderson, who often takes a while after injury to find his best form and he may be starting to do that now.
Having beaten Ilya Marchenko in straight sets already, this top half of the draw looks open and very winnable for Anderson if he’s anything like back to some of his old form and I’ll have a fun double with him and one from Bastad.
Jack Sock has always hated grass, while Yoshihito Nishioka is struggling to even make it to Newport after Hurricane Elsa stopped his flight from leaving and the last I heard was that he’s taking the train.
Nishi seems only to turn it on in majors anyway and Anderson should be able to overpower him on slick grass, but a bigger danger could be qualifier Sebastian Ofner, who’s got a big game and has played pretty well on grass this summer.
Ofner’s a bit short for me at 23-1 though and maybe another of the qualifers, Alex Bolt, could go well, too.
He’s decent on the grass, but probably lacks the weight of shot to go the distance here, although I’d fancy him to beat Sock.
The bottom half looks really open, with Sam Querrey always a very shaky favourite and much too short for me at around 9-2.
Querrey made the final here back in 2009 (lost to Ram) but has gone 3-4 win/loss here since, losing to grass court legends such as Dudi Sela and Tim Smyczek (Dustin Brown also beat him on two occasions here).
He’s always likely to throw a bad one in and any of Yuichi Sugita, Jordan Thompson, Vasek Pospisil, Peter Gojowczyk, or Denis Kudla could make the final from this bottom half and all are probably better value than Querrey.
The tempting one for me is Gojowczyk, whose flat hitting should suit Newport nicely (he made the semis here in 2017, beating Karlovic) and he should be beating Mitchell Krueger in round one.
Then he’d have Pospisil, who seems more interested in tennis politics than the actual playing side these days and in any case Gojowczyk loves playing big servers.
He’s very hit and miss, but at 25-1 the German gets the vote in the bottom half.
Hamburg European Open
Top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas will be hoping that the poor record of number one seeds in Hamburg doesn’t continue, but it’s hard to know just how much practice the Greek has put in on the clay since his round one defeat at Wimbledon.
Tsitsipas did make the final of this event last year, but it was held in September, and you’d think that Olympics on hard courts would be his next main focus rather than this disjointed period after Wimbledon and before the hard court swing.
On stats and clay form for the season you’d have to fancy him, but those matches were all building up to something big (clay Masters events and the French Open) and when he played here last year it was in preparation for Roland Garros.
So, I’d rather back someone else in the top half and the obvious choice is two-time Hamburg champion Nikoloz Basilashvili, who’s now won an impressive 19 of his last 25 matches in Germany.
But I’ve already done very well out of Basil this season and his price now is too short (he was 28-1 when he won here in 2019), especially when considering that he may well have to get past Laslo Djere, who’s found Basil a comfortable opponent lately.
The other seed in Basil’s section is Jan-Lennard Struff, who has a dismal 3-12 win/loss record in Hamburg (qualies and main draw) and so I’d suggest that Djere is actually the one for a bit of value in Q2 of this draw at 40-1.
This mini-section of the season represents a decent opportunity for Djere, whose chances in the upcoming hard court swing in North America look slim at best, so the Serb should be giving it his all this week and next.
Struff’s level could be anything on the day and if he plays his best stuff he could well overpower Djere, but history suggests that Struff struggles in Hamburg and I don’t mind taking a chance on Djere at this price.
The presence of Tsitsipas in the draw has led to pretty much all the layers going 1/3 the odds on the each-ways, which I loathe, but Unibet are going half the odds, so 40-1 each-way on those terms on Djere looks decent.
Tsitsipas’ Q1 looks tricky, with the likes of Dominik Koepfer, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Filip Krajinovic all in there and there’s a reasonable chance that one of those could beat our top seed if he’s not giving this week his full attention.
In the bottom half, Albert Ramos and Federico Delbonis look very much to have Q3 between them and given Delbonis’ 7-4 career series lead over Ramos the Argentine could be set to have another good week at the venue where he beat Federer back in 2013 as a qualifier and has a 16-5 win/loss record.
Indeed, Delbonis should have won the title that year, having been a set and 4-1 up in the final and had three match points for a 2-0 over Fabio Fognini and that’s the worry with Delbonis – that he’ll do something daft to throw away a great opportunity.
In Q4, Dusan Lajovic would need a big turnaround in the clay form he’s shown this season, where he’s just 2-7 win/loss in 2021 on his best surface and while it’s quite possible that he could turn it around he’s hard to fancy at the moment.
Lucas Pouille isn’t up to it yet after injury and the tour’s hiatus set him back a long way from his former glories and Gianluca Mager surely isn’t winning a 500 and Feli Lopez has very little chance, so it looks a fair draw for second seed Pablo Carreno Busta in Q4.
PCB has no form immediately after majors though and is another one that’s set to play in the Olympics in two weeks, so I’m not so sure how seriously he’ll be taking it this week.
Alex Molcan is playing well at the moment and I wouldn’t be surprised if he went a few rounds, but it’s hard to see him making the final of a 500, so just Djere for me in Hamburg.
Nordea Open – Bastad
The top two seeds in Bastad, Casper Ruud and Cristian Garin, look pretty strong on paper, but this post-Wimbledon period has rarely proven a good time to be backing top seeds and market leaders, so I don’t mind taking them on.
And the one that looks the likeliest to me in the top half isn’t a fabulous price but Lorenzo Musetti at 8-1 fits the bill.
He’ll appreciate the slow conditions here, but what puts me off him a little bit is the wind that you often get in Bastad.
He got blown off course on a windy day in Cagliari not long ago and if you don’t mind taking a chance on him handling it better, Musetti looks to have a good chance in the top half.
But it’s perhaps a touch short for me as a single bet and instead I’ll only have one small wager in Bastad and that’s to chance the 50-1 about Francisco Cerundolo in the bottom half of the draw.
The Argentine hasn’t yet backed up his great run to the final in Buenos Aires in slow conditions, but with time on the ball he’s a danger on his best form.
He’ll surely get that time on the ball here in Bastad and if he beats Federico Coria (won two of his last three against Coria) in round one having come through qualies he might get on a roll.
Pedro Martinez is playing well at the moment and could be a threat to Garin in the bottom half of the draw (they met at Wimbledon when Garin won in four)
But if you take Garin out of the bottom half it’s very open indeed and it wouldn’t surprise me if Martinez took out Garin and opened it up.
Marco Cecchinato will enjoy the slow conditions here, but he’s too short for me 8-1 (but could be worth it at 14s if you can get on with Paddy/Betfair). He looks the most likely to come through other than Garin, but 50s is fair enough about Cerundolo, who has had long enough now to get used to the European conditions.
This should be an interesting week and I’ll take some big prices in this post-major week, with Djere at 40s in Hamburg, Cerundolo at 50s in Bastad, Schnur at 80s in Newport and Gojowczyk also in Newport at 25s.
For a bit of fun for half a point I’ll also chance a double on Musetti and Anderson that pays 80-1 with William Hill.
0.5 points each-way Djere to win Hamburg at 40-1 (Unibet at ½ the odds each-way)
0.5 points each-way Cerundolo to win Bastad at 50-1 (Bet 365)
0.5 points each-way Schnur to win Newport at 80-1 (William Hill, Bet 365)
0.5 points win Gojowczyk to win Newport at 25-1 (generally)
0.5 points double Anderson and Musetti at 80-1 (William Hill)