RAINER SCHUETTLER- XAVIER MALISSE
PATTY SCHNYDER - AI SUGIYAMA
I am not getting ovely involved in the tennis today, just two smallish bets, tomorrow looks far more interesting.
Xavier Malisse appears to have rededicated himself to the game and the results are starting to come, he is a very gifted player and capable of competing with the very best on a "going " day. His ranking is such that he has to pre qualify for most events worth entering at present, so he has a lot of grass court practice under his belt. Winning five matches at Queen's, before losing to eventual semi-finalist Juan Carlos Ferrero in a close game and another three matches to get in here. So, he is 8-1 on the surface in the last fortnight, which included a win over Frank Dancevic, who made the final at Eastbourne over the weekend and won Surbiton last year.
Malisse is a foremer semi-finalist here and is now a "hungry" player, desperate to make something more from a career which promised so much, before it is too late.
Schuettler is exactly the opposite, maybe not as naturally gifted, but someone who has made the most of his talent. He also made a semi-final here, just last year, losing easily to Rafael Nadal, the eventual champion. No shame in that of course, but that was meant to be his swansong and I am a little surprised that at 33 yo, he is still playing. That great run aside, he has a losing record here, with a large number of first round defeats. This is a great chance for Malisse to get his ranking back up and automatically into a few tournaments, without suffering the rigors of qualifying, I make him the small favourite and at odds against have to invest a little.
Ai Sugayama loves it at Wimbledon, were she is a five time doubles finalist and boasts a 28-10 lifetime record in singles, including a number of big scalps. The Japanese superstar is playing in her 61st straight Grand Slam event, that is the world record and one I cannot believe will ever be beaten by man or woman. To play all four events, running from January to September for 15 + years on a gruelling tour, is next to impossible, just to stay fit for so long is a big ask, let alone keep your ranking high enough to get in and retain your motivation.
Sugiyama has not had the best of years and has actually lost in her first match of the last eight tournaments she has played. However, she has met mostly players ranked above her, continued to play well in doubles and showed signs of a return to life on grass last week. She plays an aggressive attacking old fashioned grass court game, can volley with the best and matches up well with Schnyder, whom she leads 3-1 h2h lifetime, although this is their first meeting on grass.
That is not surprising as the Swiss player is very uncomfortable on the surface and her ten lifetime wins in SW19 are almost all against players ranked way below her. In addition to which she has lost to five ranked outside the top 100. Schnyder is now 30 yo, still four years younger than her opponent, but this is likely to be the last time we will see her here and I doubt she will be shedding too many tears. Once again I like the more motivated (IMO) player.
4.5 points Malisse to win 2.14 + general quote.
5 points Sugiyama to win 1.74 + general quote.