This weeks ATP Tour grass court tennis actions at Queens and Halle is now well underway and already there have been a few upsets and surprises at both tournaments. Former world and British number one Andy Murray made an impressive return to action after 12 months off against Stuttgart semi-finalist Nick Kyrgios yesterday. Not many, maybe not even Murray himself, expected him to play as well as he did, racing away with the first set before going on to lose an agonising third set tiebreak.
If that is the level of performance we can expect from Murray going forward and with plenty of room for improvement, it might not be long before we see him challenging for tournaments again soon. The first round was not a good one for some of the seeded players; third seed Anderson (advised 10/1) crashed out against clay courter Leonardo Mayer, fourth seed Goffin lost to reigning champion Lopez, sixth seed Sock lost to Medvedev and eighth seed Berdych lost to the evergreen veteran and qualifier Benneteau, who is aged 36 and playing his last year on tour before he retires.
British number one Kyle Edmunds is the only British player left in the draw after Clarke and Evans lost their first round matches. Edmunds won his opening match yesterday against Harrison in straight sets 7-6 6-4 and he faces the in-form Kyrgios next, which should be an entertaining match to watch. Top-seed Cilic (advised 6/1) faces veteran Muller next and Cilic should progress to the quarter finals as he leads the head-to-head 3-0 and was impressive winning his opening match against the dangerous Verdasco.
Second seed Dimitrov could be facing an early exit against Djokovic who impressed beating Millman in the first round 6-2 6-1 and if Djokovic wins comfortably he is worth backing to win the tournament.
From a match betting perspective at Queens I think Tiafoe (10/11) and Benneteau (price tbc) are worth putting in a double (price tbc) as they both impressed winning their opening matches against tough opposition and because Tiafoe leads the head-to-head against Mayer 1-0 and Benneteau against Mannarino 3-0.
At Halle second seed Sascha Zverev was the biggest casualty so far this week losing his first round match against fellow NextGen star Coric in disappointing fashion 6-1 6-4. Fourth seed Pouille and eighth seed and s-Hertogenbosch winner Gasquet also lost at the first round stage while top-seed and reigning champion Roger Federer continues his march towards a record tenth Halle title. Khachanov (advised 28/1) and Thiem (16/1) are both through to the second round and Khachanov faces Nishikori for the third time with the head-to-head standing at 1-1. Third seed Thiem faces Sugita and Thiem won their only match on clay last year 6-1 6-2 at Barcelona.
Double - Tiafoe and Benneteau (price tbc)