TENNIS analyst Gavin Mair (@gavinnightmair) returns with his best bets from day six at Wimbledon.
We had an overdue winning day yesterday as Adrian Mannarino survived the Daniil Medvedev comeback by turning around an early break deficit in the final set to land our against odds selection.
Elsewhere, Venus Williams exited this year’s Wimbledon after a defeat that I had written might be on the cards in my Day 5 preview.
Tomorrow looks to be a day full of opportunity and there are quite a few bets that catch the eye.
Dominika Cibulkova v Elise Mertens | Saturday 7th July 2018, 13:30 | BBC
“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” or so goes the saying. And that has certainly proved true so far at Wimbledon for Dominika Cibulkova who had earned the final seeding position at this year’s Championships but was omitted in favour of Serena Williams following a media campaign to include the American as a seeded player despite choosing to play only three tournaments this season.
Cibulkova has reacted strongly to her slight by ousting home favourite Johanna Konta from the tournament with a dominant 2nd round victory. Cibulkova has been dialed-in this week with her serve looking formidable and winners spraying off her racket with great frequency.
Elise Mertens is having an impressive season scoring titles on both hard and clay surfaces. On grass however the Belgian is yet to show that level of ability and I believe her perceived grass court prowess to be confused with performances on other terrain.
Dominika Cibulkova has struggled to replicate her best form in the past year but she is a serious talent having won the Year End Championship of 2016 and, unlike Mertens, she is proven on the grass having won a Premier title on this surface in the not too distant past.
Mertens has had two strong wins in her first matches but these were against weak level opponents. Generally speaking Mertens is very adept at squashing lower level players. In the past on this surface and against opponents of Cibulkova’s current ranking level (bare in mind I think she is playing above that level) Mertens has a losing record.
The problem for Mertens is that she can settle into a passive mode and whilst extending the length of a rally can be an effective strategy on a neutral surface, on grass it is risky and a confident hitting ball striker can exploit that.
Finally, in their previous meetings the players are tied at one match win apiece. Cibulkova won the first match easily whilst in the second, which occurred during a downturn in form, she lost from 5/1 up in the first set. This motivated Cibulkova will hopefully not make the same mistake.
Back Cibulkova at 42/41 with Marathon.
Alison Van Uytvanck v Anett Kontaveit | Saturday 7th July, 2018, 11:30 | BBC
My second pick for Saturday is to side with the player that ousted defending champion Garbine Muguruza.
For me there is not a great deal to separate Alison Van Uytvanck and Annett Kontaveit in terms of talent. Belgian Van Uytvanck hasn’t had a settled career so far due to injury issues but she has had a couple of deep runs at important tournaments and she is a titleist at some of the events on tour that have a faster surface suggesting a run at Wimbledon is not beyond her ability.
Van Uytvanck’s opponent Annett Kontaveit is two years younger than the Belgian and is a player that I rate highly due to her steady and consistent development. Her game is equally suited to grass and clay courts and over the next few years she could be a contender to win a Wimbledon if her progression continues.
If Kontaveit were to win this match would mean she has made the round of 16 in two consecutive Grand Slams. However, for Kontaveit to achieve that suggests she is able to consistently perform in the bigger events and I believe there is enough reason to doubt her current ability to do this. For example, in six of her thirteen 2018 tournament entries she has exited in the first round, and she has a 50/50 record against player’s of Van Uytvanck’s ranking on grass.
Against Muguruza, a player that is used to bludgeoning her opponents off the court, Van Uytvanck reversed the roles overwhelming the Spaniard with consistent power hitting. Kontaveit has done well in the first two rounds but has shown some form dips during her matches. Van Uytvanck was so impressive against Muguruza that I can see her exploiting any drop in Kontaveit’s level. Hopefully Van Uytvanck doesn’t suffer a drop off after her big win in the last round.
Back Van Uytvanck at 9/8 with Marathon.
Ones to watch
Elsewhere on Saturday there are a few other matches that draw my interest. Fabio Fognini is available at 8/13 to defeat Jiri Vesely and he should justify his favouritism. Whilst Frances Tiafoe starts as a 13/9 outsider against Karen Khachanov. I think Tiafoe could prove value in play as his opponent has started matches quickly before tailing off. Both players are in theory closely matched but Tiafoe’s performance data has been more impressive this week.