Maybe one of the poorest weeks on the tennis calendar… next to the week AFTER Wimbledon. Tour stops in Antalya, Turkey and Eastbourne, England have generally failed to attract big names in recent years. Case in point, there are only four players ranked inside the top 30 playing tennis this week, and no one inside the top 20.
Of course, that means there is a good chance that one of these tournaments will be blessed with a big priced outright winner. Let’s see if we can find one.
Is Turkey the home of the fifth Slam? No, rather, it’s home to one of the newest tournaments on tour. A tournament that has so far, in three attempts, failed to produce neither a name brand winner nor attract a big personality other than Dominic Thiem. Thiem attended in their initial foray and … won all of five games in his visit to Turkey. The two winners in Antalya have been the 66th ranked Yuichi Sugita and the 28th ranked Damir Dzumhur. Funnily enough, Adrian Mannarino has been the finalist in both years. What those three all have in common is the fact that they all consider grass their best surface and they would probably all agree they have no chance to win Wimbledon. So, we’re looking for someone who wins a lot on grass, considers grass their speciality, probably doesn’t have a great track record at Wimbledon and, hopefully, has a big price.
The first quarter looks ugly with no true grass players in that part of the bracket. In fact, veteran qualifier Victor Troicki landed in this quarter and he may actually be the best bet to come out of it.
The bottom quarter looks like Mannarino’s to win. There isn’t a grass challenger in there to stop him, unless Tipsarevic feels youthful, and Mannarino is super comfortable here, having made the finals both years the event has been held. But, coming off a title in s’Hertogenbosch and with a price of only 4/1, this is a pass.
The third quarter has two solid grass players in it, Andreas Seppi and Bernard Tomic … and they have to face off in the first round. It’s probable that the winner takes the quarter. The money here is on Seppi. Tomic is having a real rough go of it lately and Seppi is very solid on grass. Seppi’s combined hold/break numbers on grass are routinely over 100% and he has won more than he has lost on the green stuff. At 8/1, he is the pick in the bottom half.
The second quarter is easily the most loaded. Jordan Thompson is a finalist on grass at s’Hertogenbosch two weeks ago, Dzumhur is the defending champion here, Ebden was a finalist at Newport on grass, while Gulbis is a near 0.500 player on grass. Dzumhur hasn’t played a grass match yet this season after falling and hurting his shoulder at the French Open. He’s back though and it’s doubtful he rushed back if he wasn’t close to 100% with Wimbledon looming. His path won’t be easy as he’ll probably have to go through three guys who are comfortable on grass but, 28/1 is a sexy price.
The Eastbourne draw is significantly more stacked with recognizable names, although only two or three of them would consider grass a comfortable surface and there may yet to be two significant withdrawals (both Simon and Lopez are entered but, are currently playing in a taxing Queens final).
That probably narrows the field to a shortlist of Johnson, Chardy, Querrey, Verdasco, and Hugues-Herbert. Johnson and Verdasco are having troubling years and Querrey has been out for two months with an injury. PHH is a great option but, has a loaded second quarter to deal with. Edmund, Chardy, Evans, and Albot are all proficient on grass. And that’s IF Lopez withdraws.
An easier target is the fourth quarter. Simon may also withdraw and Djere has very little experience on grass. Nic Jarry had a decent run in s’Hertogenbosch and lost a tight third set tiebreak to Mahut in Queens. He seems to have adapted to grass, he has the big serve and forehand combo necessary for grass and if he can get by another big server in Cuevas, he may be able to run through the quarter. The prices in Eastbourne are not great (18 players are priced at 20/1 or lower) so, 14/1 on a huge dude who seems comfortable on grass is a decent gamble.
Dzumhur 28/1 x0.5
Jarry 14/1 x0.5