There are two ATP grass court events this week, and our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, returns to assess the chances of the contenders for the Queens and Halle titles...
"The Czech has held serve 86.1% of the time on the surface in the last two years, breaking opponents 22.0% (combined 108.1%) and at a generous [19.5] on the Exchange, can go well here."
No regrets about Kohlschreiber recommendation in Stuttgart
Last week's pick, Philipp Kohlschreiber, was ousted by the eventual winner, Lucas Pouille, in the quarter-finals of Stuttgart, and while the recommendation was a loser, it's difficult to have any regrets about backing an 18/1 chance each-way when, as the draw panned out, he'd have been unlikely to have been an underdog at any stage of the event, including the final.
Kohlschreiber is again in action this week in Germany, this time at Halle, and again, Roger Federer is the top seed, despite his shock defeat to close friend Tommy Haas in his first match in Stuttgart.
Medium-slow conditions anticipated in Germany
Conditions in Germany are anticipated to be a little slow, with 83.6% of service games held at the event in the previous three years, compared to the current 12-month grass mean of 84.7%.
Florian Mayer is the defending champion, with the German veteran finding a rare positive week this time last year, and he's struggled notably on the main tour since. He faces Benoit Paire in his opener, while it's worth noting that Federer won here for three consecutive years between 2013 and 2015, and also several times in the more distant past.
Market sceptical about Federer's chances
After losing last week when odds on for the event, the market is much less bullish about Federer's chances, despite his venue success and superb overall grass data. He's currently trading at [2.32] on the Exchange to win, and with Lucas Pouille, Kei Nishikori and Albert Ramos the seeds in his top half of the draw, it would be a brave man to take him on.
In fact, there may be some mileage in backing Federer at such a price, given that he enjoys a huge statistical advantage over the field, and also, I'm keen to give Kohlschreiber another each-way chance in the bottom half of the draw.
Kohlschreiber worthy of another chance in weaker part of the draw
This approach makes sense given his still strong grass court data, plus the fact that the seeds in the bottom half all have question marks surrounding them - Roberto Bautista-Agut is nothing special on the surface while Alexander Zverev has potential but did not impress against Gilles Muller in the Netherlands on Saturday, losing 7-6 6-2 in the semi-final.
Furthermore, there are fitness doubts surrounding Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet and Bernard Tomic, and with second seed Dominic Thiem still yet to fully convince on the surface, Kohlschreiber again looks worthy of consideration at 16/1 each-way with the Sportsbook.
Quick conditions likely in London
Over at Queens, conditions are anticipated to be much quicker with 87.3% of service games held over the last three years, and at one of the quickest events on the calendar, I'm expecting servers to find conditions to their liking in the coming week.
Market favourite Murray up against it in tough first quarter
This should particularly suit the likes of Gilles Muller and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Andy Murray's first quarter of the draw, and the out of form Scotsman, trading as a [2.56] favourite at the time of writing, could not have asked for a more difficult quarter in a 32-man 500 level event. He also has to face in-form countryman Aljaz Bedene in his opening match.
The top half of the draw is certainly packed with talent, with Marin Cilic, John Isner, Nick Kyrgios and the improving Steve Johnson all in the second quarter, and on this basis, it seems worthwhile to look at our options in the weaker bottom half of the draw.
Outright options in the bottom half of the draw
Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic, Tomas Berdych and Stan Wawrinka are the seeds in this half, and Wawrinka can be easily swerved due to his mediocre grass court record, and also relatively poor record at the pacier venues on tour. Furthermore, he faces a very tough opener against Stuttgart finalist Feliciano Lopez, who is very comfortable indeed on grass.
Therefore, it's between Dimitrov, Raonic and Berdych for our selection, and given Raonic looked far from fully fit in his last match at the French Open - again disappointing in a Slam - and is second favourite at [6.4] here, I'll look towards Dimitrov or Berdych.
Both have relatively easy draws to get to the quarter-final stage - Dimitrov faces Ryan Harrison and then either Julien Benneteau or James Ward, while Berdych is up against Steve Darcis and then the winner of Kyle Edmund and Denis Shapovalov.
Berdych with strong grass data and relatively easy draw
Of the two, it is Berdych with the better grass data. The Czech has held serve 86.1% of the time on the surface in the last two years, breaking opponents 22.0% (combined 108.1%) and at a generous [19.5] on the Exchange, can go well here.
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