TENNIS analyst Gavin Mair (@gavinnightmair) returns with his best bets from this week’s Queens Club action.
ATP Queens | 19th-26th June 2017 | BBC
When Queens Club comes around on the sporting calendar the British public really starts to care about tennis. Home favourite Andy Murray routinely fires up the hype for Wimbledon by winning the prestigious West Kensington grass court event.
The Scot has won Queens club in three of the past five years, including the past two years when the tournament was upgraded to an ATP 500 event.
It has not been a brilliant season for Murray as he has struggled from various ailments, and possibly the pressure of being the world’s number one ranked player. His semi final French Open result was a definite big improvement from pre-tournament expectations when he had been written off after a disastrous couple of months building up to the season’s second Grand Slam.
A few weeks out from the start of Wimbledon, the reigning champion is priced as the tournament favourite, and a good week here will likely see his price drop below the 14/5 currently available in the outright markets.
Murray has been the best grass courter in the world for a good few seasons, but he will not have it all too easy this week having been drawn into a hazardous half of the draw full of top level grass court players. It is not impossible to imagine Murray falling short this week in what is his first grass court outing for 12 months.
Last week our WeLoveBetting grass court season kicked-off in fine style as Gilles Muller and Ivo Karlovic both reached the final at meaty 10/1 prices. Using the same methods that has seen my tips accumulate a +111.025 unit return for the season to date, lets see where the value rests in London.
Quarter 1 As mentioned briefly above, Murray has been given a horrible draw to overcome. His first round opponent Aljaz Bedene should not provide too much resistance but from that point on it starts to look tricky.
Sam Querrey upset Novak Djokovic at 20/1 in Wimbledon last year, and is a former winner of Queens Club. He awaits Murray in Round 2.
To get through the quarter Murray will then have to overcome either s’Hertogenbosh finalist Gilles Muller, who has pushed him uncomfortably close on this surface in previous years, or the 5th seeded Jo Wilfried Tsonga himself a former Wimbledon semi finalist.
Murray comes through this draw if he’s on his game, but there’s no value in backing him outright at 6/4.
Further problems await Murray should he reach the semi finals.
Marin Cilic is the tournament’s 4th seed and on a good form streak, coming off his best best ever clay court season, and narrowly losing a semifinal lottery against grass loving compatriot Ivo Karlovic in Rosmalen last week.
Cilic will be a dark horse when Wimbledon kicks off in a couple of weeks time.
The Croatian has a toughie in the first round – another probable tiebreak shootout with big John Isner.
Last season Steve Johnson had a great grass court season and he lies in wait for Cilic or Isner in the following round.
The big danger for everyone comes from the mercurial Nick Kyrgios who looks a seriously good prospect on grass, despite failing so far in his career to win a title on this surface.
It is hard to know what you are going to get from Kyrgios. It is a nightmare trying to predict his mood before a tournament starts, but if he feels in the mood he is capable of beating Murray on his home patch.
There may be some value in chancing Kyrgios this week as an each-way option at 16/1 outright with Betvictor.
Whilst Murray drew the short straw when the brackets were made on Saturday, the same can not be said for last year’s runner-up Milos Raonic.
In 2016 the big serving Canadian followed up his Queens Club result by making the Wimbledon final, on both occasions losing to Murray. The match up against Murray is a difficult one for Raonic, even though grass affords him his most likely chance of victory. For that reason it is better to choose Raonic again as an Each Way option. He is available at 6/1 outright with BetFred.
Raonic should come through his quarter at the very least. The other seeded player Grigor Dimitrov is all style with no substance. He is capable of the occasional big week but he’s a permanently overrated player in the markets.
Daniil Medvedev rates grass courts as his best surface, but dropping his serve twice to Karlovic last week suggests he still has much to learn.
Nicolas Mahut fell early at his favourite tournament last week, but is a seriously good grass player on his day. He is advancing in years and with his performance numbers down across the board we have probably seen the best of the Frenchman.
Stan Wawrinka is an interesting proposition for the forthcoming grass court season. The Swiss has won every Grand Slam but Wimbledon. However, the powerful baseliner struggles to adapt his skillset to grass courts and it is likely that he will never become a Wimbledon champion.
As with most events outside of the Slams, Wawrinka has a poor track record at this tournament. It is unlikely he rolls to the title this week.
The other seed is Tomas Berdych but he is a player that has seen better days and the seeding next to his name nowadays holds little significance.
Kyle Edmund made the quarters here last year, but he does not appear to me as a player that will consistently go deep on the grass.
Feliciano Lopez was a Stuttgart finalist last week and has achieved that feat at Queens Club in the past. Whether or not he has a comedown following his big week in Germany remains to be seen.
ATP Queens – Milos Raonic to win (6/1 each-way Betfred)
ATP Queens – Nick Kyrgios to win (16/1 each-way BetVictor)
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