ATP Tennis 2018 July 9 Wimbledon
Rested after a Middle Sunday, the results of a gross Saturday now distant memories, attention turns to maybe the greatest sports day of the year. Manic Monday.
My futures are down to Federer, Raonic and Tsitsipas, all on the top half of the draw, which was something I actively tried to avoid. Fading Delpo and Rafa has not worked out well in the bottom quarter, Ebden lost in a match where he went 0/7 on break points in the first three sets, and both Kyrgios and Zverev crashed out in the third round, again proving me wrong and again showing the tennis world they are just not ready yet to take over.
Time to get to capping a full day of tennis.
Mannarino is one of four guys left representing players who chose to play last week (Gulbis had no choice). And his visit to Wimbledon obviously ends today, the same spot it ended last year. Federer and Mannarino have played five times in the past and it hasn’t been a kind head-to-head for the Frenchman. Four have finished in straight sets but, the most recent one, last year in Basel, saw Mannarino grab the first set before Fed slammed the door 61,63. Here’s why I don’t think Mannarino has any chance on Manic Monday: first serve percentage. In the last three matches between these two Federer has struggled to get his first serve in — in Basel last year Mannarino grabbed a set and Federer was hitting 53% of his first serves. In Basel in 2013 Fed was landing 51% of his first serves and at the US Open in 2013 Fed was hitting 57% of his first serves. What should be concerning for Mannarino is the two matches these two played in 2011. At the Paris Masters Fed beat him while hitting 65% of his first serves in and at Wimbledon earlier that year Fed beat him hitting 64% of his first serves in. Both of those two matches in 2011 were played on faster surfaces (indoors in Paris and grass at Wimbledon) like the one they will be gracing on Monday. The result of those two 2011 matches were Fed in straights and Mannarino not winning more than three games in any of the five sets.
What is Federer’s first serve percent this year at Wimbledon? Well, it was a whopping 71% in round one and 70% in round two. That’s why I am concerned for Mannarino. Fed’s third round match against Struff did see his first serve percentage drop to 54% but, some of that can probably be attributed to fatigue; he has had two days off now and should be at full power.
Federer has covered the -8.5 in all three matches he has played so far at Wimbledon and I see him doing it again. The over/under is set at 28.5 and while I do lean under, it is not out of the realm of possibility that we a similar scoreline to his match with Struff, where a 63,75,62 scoreline covers the handicap but, goes over the total. Oddsmakers, I think, lean to a Fed handicap as well, as Federer is a bigger favorite today than he has been in each of their last four matches. Really, I guess either bet works; I’ll go handicap.
Monfils, like Mannarino, is representing players who chose not to take last week off. Each year at Wimbledon there is usually one guy who proves every pundit wrong, staves off fatigue and advances past Manic Monday despite playing the week before Wimbledon. In 2017 and 2016 it was Sam Querrey who attended Nottingham/Eastbourne and made it to the quarter-finals and in 2015 it was both Gilles Simon and Vasek Pospisil making it through Manic Monday. I think Monfils is that guy this year.
Many handicappers will tell you to ignore head-to-head records and that is certainly true for small sample sizes but, I’ve written here before that once a head-to-head gets to a certain level, it just becomes obvious that one player has another players “number”. That is why you see some head-to-heads in tennis where it is, like, 15–1 or 18–3 (I’ll let you guess which super famous tennis player own those records against guys who are still considered top 20 talent). 3–0 is when it starts to get concerning, 5–0 can almost be considered fait accompli. There have been seven matches at Wimbledon so far this year where there was a three win gap in head-to-head’s. The person who owned the head-to-head advantage is 5–2 in those matches (with the two losses being Fognini’s bizarre give-up against Vesely and Karlovic’s win over Youzhny in the first round). Monfils has beaten Anderson all five times they have played and KA has only won one set. Someone might mention that none of the previous five matches were played on grass but, I think that is irrelevant. Two of them were played on indoor hards (just as fast or close to it) and really, Monfils has just as good or better grass stats than Anderson.
Monfils has a better career grass winning percentage, has a better record in tiebreaks, and has had a better hold/break percentage this year and last year on grass. I’ll take the dog money here.
Milos burned me on Friday/Saturday — losing a set to Dennis Novak and having to come back a day later and finish the job. On the opposite side of the ledger, I’ve backed McDonald in all three of his matches at Wimbledon. I imagine this match will be tighter than the moneyline price indicates and I am not sure I want to take a side on Milos. I’m thinking MM might be able to steal a set and I am thinking this is going to go long. Milos has gone over the total in two of his three matches as has McDonald. Additionally, McDonald has played twelve or more games in six of his twelve sets at Wimbledon. Over 35.5 seems like a solid bet.
McDonald played Nicolas Jarry in the second round, someone who is physically, very similar to Raonic and they played an extremely long match, going to 11–9 in the fifth set. He also handled Jarry’s style of play well, winning a match where Jarry came to the net 62 times and got his first serve in 67% of the time. That is very similar to Raonic, who landed 70% of his first serves against Novak and came to the net 55 times across four sets. I’m going to grab the over here and hope McDonald can replicate his performance against Jarry and lose to Raonic in four sets, keeping my future intact.
Tsipsipas and Isner have played once before and Isner won a tight one 76,76. Isner never created a single break point chance while Tsitsipas went 0/5. Tsitty out-aced him, won more points on first and more points on second serve and won more points on return.
That match was in October last year and it’s hard to judge how similar this one will be as, Tsitsipas had just turned 19 and it was played on outdoor hard courts.
I have a decent future on Tsitty and I expected him to have a chance to sneak into the quarter-finals. Isner does not have a great history of going deep in grand slams and so, I’ll sit this one out and see if I can grab a little on Isner at even money or better if this gets to a first set tiebreak and/or Tsitty takes the first set.
Novak Djokovic is rolling. The three time Wimbledon champ has cruised into the fourth round with only a small blip in the first set against heavy crowd favorite Kyle Edmund. Djoker quickly righted the ship and was not broken again, ending the match 63,62,64.
Djokovic has, for what it is worth, only ever lost in the round of 16 one time, on his first attempt, when he was 19. Since then he has really only been pushed by Lleyton Hewitt who took a set off him in 2010 and by Kevin Anderson, who won two tiebreaks off Djoker in 2015 before the Serb righted that particular ship. I don’t think KK is Kevin Anderson, yet; and I certainly don’t think he is Lleyton Hewitt.
Khachanov is also coming into Manic Monday with more games played on his plate than just about anybody in recent memory. In my database, that goes back four years, the only guys in round four that had played more than KK’s 142 games were Marin Cilic at 155 and Ivo Karlovic at 161 in 2015. Ivo was easily handled by Andy Murray and Cilic won but, he was playing Cinderella story Denis Kudla (Cilic ended up losing in round 5). He can’t have a ton of energy left and he is playing against one of the most athletic guys to ever get on a grass court.
On top of the energy level deficit he may be facing, KK also severely lacks the grass court stats Djoker has. While really good, at 109 this year and 99 last year, KK’s hold/break numbers pale in comparison to Djokovic’s, who comes in routinely over 120. Djoker should roll through this, possibly winning a tight first set and then opening up some big gaps in the later sets.
I have no feel for Nishikori and Gulbis. Like Khachanov, Gulbis comes into this fourth round match having played an almost unprecedented number of games. He just eclipsed KK at 144 games so far this tournament and when combined with the previous weeks qualifying Gulbis is over 220 games played in the last 13 thirteen days. That is pretty incredible. He has to almost be out of gas.
And yet, Gulbis is obviously playing good tennis. He is playing against a guy, in Nishikori, who is on his least favorite surface and they both bring in very similar hold/break stats on grass from 2017.
Nishikori has beaten Gulbis twice but, one was in 2008 when they were both teenagers and one was on clay in 2014 (Kei’s best surface).
I lean to Gulbis somehow keeping this close, and the game handicap is a decent +5.5, but, considering Kei’s performance on Saturday, I’ll just stay away.
I’ve been waiting for Delpo and Rafa to falter all week long and it hasn’t been close to happening. They are both massive favorites on Monday and I have zero desire to get involved in either match.
Delpo is playing Gilles Simon and they have played a whopping seven times, basically alternating wins. What is in Delpo’s favour though, is the surface. Three of his four wins over Simon have come on grass, one as recently as 2016 at Stuttgart. However, no Delpo win is easy. In three of his four wins over Simon he has dropped a set and the one that finished in straights went 76,76,75 — hardly a cakewalk. I can’t imagine why Delpo stuggles with Gilles Simon of all people but, it looks like this could be a dangerous one and I am tempted by Simon +5.5.
I’ll bet every preview you read today/tomorrow will mention Gilles Muller beating Rafa last year and how that is a recipe for Vesely. They are both big, European, lefty servers and they are both meeting Rafa on Manic Monday. I just don’t think what Muller pulled off last year can be copied. He saved 14!!! break points against one of the greatest players of all time while only hitting 63% of his first serves in. He also popped 30 aces. Vesely has been averaging around half that many and he has already had his miracle performance this tournament, saving 13 break points against Fognini on Saturday (and costing me money in the process.
I’m not going to pull the trigger on Gulbis, McDonald, Tsitty, Simon or even Vesely because dogs historically don’t do great here on Manic Monday. There is usually two a year and I think Monfils is one and I sure hope Tsitty is the other.
Fed -8.5, -125
Monfils ml, +130
McDonald/Raonic o35.5, +100
Djokovic 3–0, -125