With the first two days of the Wimbledon schedule decimated by rain, Dan Weston returns to look at the first batch of round two matches in the men's event, which were originally scheduled for Wednesday...
"Perhaps the market is over-reacting slightly to Koepfer’s win over Reilly Opelka in round one, but I don’t see much in the way of numerical evidence as to why Koepfer is the favourite here."
Mannarino forced to withdraw against Federer
Following the rain delays, there are still 27 first-round matches to be completed at Wimbledon, but there are 14 second-round matches on today's schedule as well, and this preview will focus on these, having already discussed the interesting pre-match spots in advance for round one.
Despite the weather intervening for the second consecutive day yesterday, we did see some action with our handicap selection, Adrian Mannarino, looking very good at 2-1 up in sets against Roger Federer before slipping and being forced to retire, which frustratingly voided the result. In my view, the question marks over the Swiss legend haven't gone away, and no doubt we will discuss his second-round match with Richard Gasquet tomorrow, when it is scheduled for.
Our Monday pick, Gael Monfils, has been forced to wait until today to complete his match, now being a break up in the final set of his match against Chris O'Connell, which has been split across two days already so far.
Value tricky to predict with lack of grass data
Moving on to these round two matches on the schedule today (although they may not get played with those incomplete round one matches getting priority), there are a number of mismatches which is a pretty standard dynamic for the early rounds of men's Grand Slam tournaments.
The likes of Novak Djokovic and Denis Shapovalov are overwhelming pre-match favourites for their second round matches, while Andrey Rublev and Dan Evans are among those who are also strongly anticipated by the market to progress.
So where is the value likely to be? That's a good question, but a tough one to answer. We still obviously don't have much usable grass data (and probably won't do until 2023 when we hopefully will have had two years of complete previous grass court seasons in a row).
Current version of Murray still with much to prove
A player with good long-term grass data, of course, is Andy Murray. The Scotsman has an illustrious history and lifted the trophy here in 2013 and 2016, but the current version of Murray, unfortunately, isn't close to that level.
This year, Murray is running at below 100% combined service/return points won from his limited number of main tour matches, and was also below this mark in 2020 as well - this suggests his level over the last year and a half is below top 50 level - and I wouldn't read too much into wins over Benoit Paire and Nikoloz Basilashvili in recent weeks. These two players are two of the most inconsistent players on tour and particularly in the case of Paire, have mediocre records since the tour resumed last July.
Today, Murray is 1.374/11 to get the better of Oscar Otte, and the match has a fascinating dynamic. Otte, ranked outside the top 100, isn't a particularly strong player at this level, and needed a five-set epic to get the better of fellow qualifier Arthur Rinderknech. However, that match was played over two days, which perhaps has a little less implication on accumulated fatigue. Murray looks short-priced here, and I wouldn't be shocked if he was tested by Otte here.
Kwon capable of underdog victory
Soonwoo Kwon reached the semi-final of Eastbourne last week as a lucky loser, picking up good wins over Marton Fucsovics and Ilya Ivashka before losing a fairly tight match to the second seed Alex De Minaur, so the Korean comes into the tournament in reasonable form. He defeated qualifier Daniel Masur in round one, and now faces another German opponent in Dominik Koepfer.
Kwon is the 2.3411/8 underdog here, which doesn't make a huge amount of sense to me. Perhaps the market is over-reacting slightly to Koepfer's win over Reilly Opelka in round one, but I don't see much in the way of numerical evidence as to why Koepfer is the favourite here. Kwon has a better record indoors over the last couple of years, and he's our cautious recommendation.
Broady and Evans provide further British interest
In other matches, Jiri Vesely is a capable player in quicker conditions and it wouldn't be a shock if he defeated Marton Fucsovics at 2.588/5, while there's further British interest with Liam Broady facing Diego Schwartzman. Grass is probably the surface where the ability differential between Broady and Schwartzman is the smallest, and the Argentine looks a little short-priced at 1.261/4. A third British player, Dan Evans, is a heavy favourite to get past the clay-courter, Dusan Lajovic, and it will be fascinating to see how many British players progress from these round two matches and push towards making the second week.
Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings
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