Okay, so here we go. I won't be playing every tournament each week, will be trying to focus on one. For futures, I will be playing a MAX of two units for the tournament. For the upset picks that I outline for the 1st round, I will try each of them for half a unit each if they are plus money. Those will be my only daily plays as I begin this project.
Since this event switched from Nottingham to Eastbourne four years ago, the top seed has never won the title and has never been in the Championship Match. In fact, the top seed has not won back to back matches since the switch. Qualifiers have had modest success in their opening round matches in Eastbourne with at least one winning a first round match in each of the last four years. This year's qualifiers include: Matosevic (Ward), Edben (Darcis), Mathieu (Chardy) and Pospisil (Harrison). Wilcards have had less first round success, but James Ward who is again a wildcard entry, has knocked off an opponent in the first round as a wildcard twice in his last three entries as a wildcard in this event.
When this event was in Nottingham, Gasquet won the title twice and was rock solid. He has not played at the event since the Eastbourne switch though. His draw is easy enough for a semifinal spot with a first round bye and Andujar at #8 is the only other seeded player in his portion of the draw. Andujar who is 1-7 on Grass lifetime. Gasquet has a sparkling 70%+ win rate on Grass in his career, so it's all a matter of want this week for him. If he wants to play and do well here, he should. Ward & Matosevic in the 1st round pits wildcard and qualifier. Darcis v. Ebden and Andujar v. Baghdatis are the other matches. I think the Ward-Matosevic winner will pose the biggest threat to knocking off Gasquet, only because they will have had court-time on the surface whereas Gasquet has not played since the French Open. If he gets by that match though, even with the bad luck of the #1s - Gasquet should be in the semis.
Granollers has a tricky draw and I would be surprised if he survived it. He will face the winner of Llodra-Istomin first-up. The other two matches in the 1st round are Benneteau v. Lu and Pospisil v. Harrison. Lu would be the easy pick to perhaps navigate this quarter after his solid week at Queens Club, but he picked up a leg injury and there's no word on his status. Benneteau has made the quarters two straight years at Eastbourne and could be in line for a third. Harrison is a potential darkhorse here. He's not lost on Grass and has comparable if not better games than most in this quarter. I would usually love Llodra in this spot as his serve & volley game is suited to Grass, but he's been awful this year since losing the Marseilles Final in February. This quarter looks absolutely wide open. I'd give Benneteau perhaps a slight edge over Istomin to advance, but would not be surprised by anyone who wins this quarter.
The defending Champ should be okay with his first match, playing the winner of Berlocq-Kukushkin. On the other side, Kohlschreiber v. Soeda and Young v. Baker. You couldn't pay me money to watch Donald Young and Jamie Baker. You couldn't give me money to bet on either. Both are pretty poor on the surface and Young has lost his last ten matches. The survivor could be easy fodder for Kohlschreiber or Soeda. As with Gasquet, Kohlschreiber's want level is the key for him. He's the best on this surface in this quarter, but hasn't exactly done well outside of his home Halle tournament. Even with Seppi's run in Eastbourne last year, he's not exactly a great Grass court player. By default though, he could be the semifinalist in this quarter.
This quarter offers the most intrigue. Tomic waits for Fognini or Ramos. Well that is if Tomic is ready to go. He retired against Haas in Halle last week due to illness. Who knew being a pussy was now classified as illness. In all seriousness though, the virus he has been battling is reason enough to steer clear of him this week until you see him play if he indeed takes the court. Have to favor Fognini's experience over Ramos. Bottom half is France v. France with Mathieu and Chardy and then USA v. USA with Querrey and Roddick. Chardy is of course a mixed bag of shit. He could step up and win several matches, but I think with Mathieu having gone through qualis - he may actually be primed for at least one win. Querrey could loom large in this quarter with solid form carrying over from Queens Club where he made the semis. Roddick had a rocket serve against Roger-Vasselin, but did not play the big points well and lost in three. No one in their right mind is going to back him. Consider though that Roddick wants to be here, he has to get a wildcard to get into the tournament. Then consider Querrey's track record and a long week. Seems like a total lay-up for Querrey, right? I favor the survivor of the All-American affair to advance. I don't want to think Roddick has a shot in hell, but something stupid inside me says different.
1st Round Upset Watch
Ward over Matosevic
Mathieu over Chardy
Roddick over Querrey
Gasquet, Istomin, Seppi, Roddick
Seppi +1000/ 0.5 unit
Benneteau +1400/ 0.5 unit
Gasquet +250/ 1 unit