The second round of the cinch Championships begins at Queens Club on Wednesday as the remainder of the singles draw gets set to be played out on the Centre Court at the iconic London venue.
That immediately lifts the profile of the competition up a notch and with former champions and rising stars taking to the court on Wednesday we should be in for a decent day of tennis even if we are devoid of some of the perceived elite stars.
Alex de Minaur vs Alejandro Davidovich Fokina
The opening second round match sees the semi-finalist of last season, Alex de Minaur, going up against the Spanish player Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in a match which is going to see an unseeded player into the quarter final.
Both these men had good straight sets wins in the opening round although you could argue that both beat players who aren’t really suited to the nuances of grass court tennis. That isn’t the case here though. Both players have good grass court pedigrees behind them. De Minaur was a semi-finalist here last year before winning Eastbourne a week later and while the Spaniard is only 6-6 as a professional on the surface, he did win in the boys title at Wimbledon in 2017 which takes some winning. I would still favour de Minaur here but the odds on him are plenty skinny enough.
Botic van de Zandschulp vs Grigor Dimitrov
The second match of the day on the Centre Court sees the former champion Grigor Dimitrov taking on Botic van de Zandschulp, the Dutchman who is making his debut in the tournament but might have drawn a short straw here.
That is because he had a pretty lengthy first round match against the British qualifier Paul Jubb which was played on Tuesday while Dimitrov had his opener on Monday so he had a day of rest and recovery which the Dutch player won’t have the luxury of. That makes me think that this match is on the racquet of the Bulgarian. To be fair it probably would have been anyway when you consider that he is the better player of the two on this surface and clearly loves it here but when you add in that lack of preparation time for van de Zandschulp it is hard to see anything but a Dimitrov win here. Van de Zandschulp is 4-5 on grass in his career but hasn’t beaten anyone ranked higher than 185 on the surface. Dimitrov should win this and he should win it well too, however the odds are perfectly reflective of that.
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Jack Draper vs Emil Ruusuvuori
The penultimate match of the afternoon on Wednesday sees the home wildcard Jack Draper taking on the qualifier from Finland in the form of Emil Ruusuvuori in what could well be a big match for both men.
A quarter final spot will be the prize for one of them and a significant number of ranking points which comes with it for the potential for more. You would imagine that will only make this match more competitive than it might have been. Draper looked very cool, calm and collected in his opening match and he has the same benefit that Dimitrov has in that he played his opener on Monday while Ruusuvuori had to come through a tough three set encounter on a hot day on Tuesday. When you consider the Finn doesn’t put successive wins together too often for him to win a fourth match in five days here is asking a lot. I like the fresher Draper here but I’m on him outright so I’m happy to let that one ride here.
Alexander Bublik vs Marin Cilic
The final match of the day sees the other former champion on show when pre-tournament favourite Marin Cilic goes up against the enigmatic Alexander Bublik for a place in the quarter final where the winner will take on whoever comes through the match prior to this one.
Clearly with either a wildcard or qualifier waiting in the next round this is a huge chance for someone to not just make it to the last eight but also to the last four and with both seeds in the other half of this quarter already out, it isn’t putting too fine a point on it to suggest whoever wins this match will be favourite to make the final. That will also add to the competitiveness of this encounter and to be honest I expected a lengthy affair anyway. These two men have met twice in their career with Cilic winning on both occasions but both went to a third set. They were on clay and Bublik should be even more competitive on grass. I think we are in tiebreak heaven here. Even Andy Murray was taken to a breaker by the Kazakh in Stuttgart last week. Bublik will be fresh after coming through his opening round with just one set played when Lorenzo Musetti pulled out. Cilic had to go more than two hours which might be significant but you wouldn’t think he would have too many troubles on serve. Two sets or three I think this serve dominated match will go beyond 23.5 games.
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