Wednesday ATP Betting Preview: Welcome to Grass Season
Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Roger Federer
With Rafa Nadal hoisting his 11th Coupe des Mousquetaires last weekend, we close the chapter on the clay season — and now look ahead to the greener pastures of grass court tennis.
The grass season is short and sweet at just under two months — and presents us with a different test as tennis handicappers. Because the ball stays low (after bouncing off the grass), lawn tennis is widely considered the fastest surface. It’s defined by quick points (think Federer at Wimbledon) and an uptick in aces. For these reasons, offensive-minded players — and big servers — generally enjoy the quicker conditions.
We have two grass tournaments this week in Stuttgart and Den Bosch (s’-Hertogenbosch), with the Maestro — Roger Federer — returning from his clay-court layoff to play the former. Action gets underway Wednesday at 5 a.m. ET.
Let’s see what’s out there for us.
Marius Copil (-118) vs. Yuichi Sugita (-111)
When: 5 a.m. ET
Where: s’-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands
H2H: Copil leads 2-0 (Sugita has a Challenger level win on grass)
Bit surprised to see Sugita open here as a dog. Sugita had an incredible grass season last year, winning two grass tournies: Surbiton Challenger and Antalya at the Tour level. He also cruised in his first grass match of 2018 (6-3, 6-2) against Niko Basilashvili.
Copil, on the other hand, had a much tougher first-round test against Aljaz Bedene — pulling out a second set breaker, before pulling away in the third. But let’s not forget, he staved off match points at 4-5 in the second and, for a while there, didn’t look like he’d get across. Also, I watched that match (had the over) and noticed Copil repeatedly gripping his leg. It looked like a potential left thigh injury, but I also saw him shaking out his right knee.
Something tells me Copil isn’t fully fit ahead of this one — and even if he is — I still believe this specific spot favors “King” Sugita. The two have met three times over the years — and Copil took both matches at the Tour level. However, last year — at the Surbiton Challenger (usually a pretty competitive grass court tournament) — Sugita won in straight sets.
And I expect a similar result tomorrow. If Copil’s level drops on his serve, Sugita will constantly be applying pressure on return looking to capitalize. Anytime Sugita can get the Copil serve back — and neutralize the point from the baseline — he will be at a huge advantage in the rally.
And at odds-against — this looks to be a home run spot.
The Pick: Yuichi Sugita -111
Denis Istomin (-118) vs. Flo Mayer (-111)
When: Not before 7:30 a.m. ET
Where: Stuttgart, Germany
H2H: Istomin leads 3-0
Another pick ’em, here. This time, I think the value lies with the slight fave: Denis Istomin, who bested local boy Philipp Kohlschreiber in his first match in Stuttgart. I was up early this morning — and watched that match with my first cup of espresso — and came away impressed with Istomin’s level.
I also got a chance to watch Flo Mayer’s opening round match against Yannick Maden and came away less than impressed. Maden’s level was pretty uninspiring — and that scoreline was more the result of Maden’s poor play than any type of good form by Flo.
In fact, Mayer has had a tough time getting out of his own way this season — which appears to be his last. He owned an 0-9 Tour level record coming into Stuttgart.
I simply think Istomin will outclass him, here. Mayer’s always been a decent grass player — and last year he posted some pretty good results — but I think oddsmakers are jumping the gun here after a cupcake first round match against a guy in Maden, who has very little grass-court experience.
If Istomin serves well and keeps the pressure on the return side of things, he should get across here at virtually even money. Especially given Istomin’s 3-0 record against the German.
Istomin is an established grass-courter in his own right, despite his poor season on the lawn last year. Lest we forget, he won a grass tournament back in 2015 in Nottingham (Tour level), coming through Sam Querrey in the final.
The Pick: Denis Istomin -118
Daniil Medvedev (-154) vs. Fernando Verdasco (+120)
When: Not before 10 a.m. ET
Where: ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands
H2H: Medvedev leads 1-0
I like Meddy here. Usually, I don’t like to back many favorites above -130, but I think this presents a good opportunity to back Meddy against Verdasco — who has really struggled on grass courts over the past couple years.
Meddy, on the other hand, has put together some of his best — and most consistent — results on the lawn. That includes last year, when he made the quarterfinals of both this tournament and Queen’s Club — and then made the semis of Eastbourne (beating Sam Querrey, Robin Haase, and Stevie Johnson in the process).
Style-wise, Meddy matches up well with Verdasco. Verdasco, like many Spanish players, hits his groundstrokes with a lot of topspin — so they tend to bounce up high. Medvedev, on the other hand, hits very flat and linear strokes — which zip through the court on grass. He should be able to hit a lot of winners against Verdasco, 34, who simply doesn’t defend that well anymore at his age.
The Pick: Daniil Medvedev (-154)
YTD: 53-54 +7.6 units