Rain continued to be an issue across Europe as the first week of the grass season continues.
Fortunately, the tournaments in the Netherlands and Germany have finally caught up and the quarter-finals are taking place between ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Stuttgart!
Let’s dive into a pair of matches that have a position to take.
Match times are subject to change. Read here for tips on viewing tennis matches.
Stefanos Tsitsipas (-250) against Andy Murray (+190)
8 a.m. ET, Stuttgart
The third quarter-final of the day in Stuttgart features a pair of the sport’s biggest names with Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andy Murray battling it out with a semi-final spot on the line.
As expected, the books and the market have made Tsitsipas a strong favorite, thanks in large part to his deep runs at big events and his position in the rankings.
Grass, however, is a different beast – one that the Greek has struggled to tame in his career.
His style of play just isn’t compatible with the faster, smoother surface. Tstisipas’ serve certainly appreciates the boost the green stuff provides, but his backhand play and one-handed backhand are huge liabilities.
To date in his career, Tsitsipas’ break percentage is still below the 15% mark. As long as opponents can rely on finding cheap points by targeting his backhand, it’s unlikely to make much of a difference.
On the other side of the net is Murray. Sir Andy may not be the player he used to be, but he was unbelievable in his career on grass. Gold medal. Wibledon Champion. You name it.
His elite return skills allow him to find ways to apply pressure on his opponents’ serve, despite the faster nature of the box, while his serve and forehand combo become much better weapons.
Consider that Murray has already played six times this season on the surface and beaten hard-grass courts — even in a Challenger event — and that award looks even better.
Then consider that he’s only been beaten six times in 13 sets, and the match against Tsitsipas looks even more promising.
Pick: Murray ML (+190 via BetMGM)
Hugo Gaston (-135) against Tim van Rijthoven (+110)
5 a.m. ET, ‘s-Hertogenbosch
Direction the Netherlands where the match that opens the ball of the quarter-finals features Hugo Gaston and the Dutchman Tim van Rijthoven.
Despite playing his first professional season on grass, van Rijthoven looks at home. It also makes sense, considering the bazooka of a serve and forehand combination he possesses.
These two weapons alone have allowed him to keep five sets close so far as an underdog in his first two matches of the week.
It should also allow him to keep points short against a return-oriented player in Gaston, who has a clear advantage over the big Dutchman when rallies drag on.
Gaston is also relatively inexperienced on the pitch, but he got away with frustrating Jenson Brooksby. In this match, he was able to match Brooksby’s trickery and outlast him in the rallies, with the American rarely able to break through him.
That won’t be the case against the mighty van Rijthoven, but there are two factors that should help Gaston hold his serve consistently in this one.
First, van Rijthoven doesn’t move or come back as well as Brooksby. Service games will not be extended this time.
Second, southpaw Gaston can serve and control backhand rallies to van Rijthoven’s weaker hand and find cheap points that way.
I prefer the first set here because Gaston could very well pick up van Rijthoven’s patterns and find more success on the return in the second set.
Take these two to play a long first set while both are fresh.
Pick: 1st set of 10.5 (+175 via DraftKings)
How would you rate this article?