Gilles Simon vs James Ward ATP Picks Against the Spread - 6/17/2019
Gilles Simon vs James Ward
10:30 am EST, 17th June 2019
ATP London, England
As a typical product of British tennis, James Ward feels very much at home on grass courts. Some of the stats will not support that claim, but once you see him play on this surface it gets obvious that this comes natural to him. And that is not something to be taken for granted. There are so many players that will struggle with the most basic thing when playing on grass, like moving around and getting timing down on their shots. That is why you should never underestimate players like Ward in this type of playing conditions. People that did just in previous couple of days probably learned their lesson. After eliminating Prajnesh Gunneswaran in the first round of qualifiers, he was considered as an underdog vs big-serving Ivo Karlovic. That was obviously a poor assessment by the betting market, because he was a much better player in that match, despite dealing with serves which were constantly in 140 mph range. He created himself 7 break opportunities from returning those bombs and converted one, which was enough for a straight sets win in the end. Looking at his grass court record, you might not find it very impressive. But he had a career result at this event in 2011, when he reached the semifinals, beating guys like Stan Wawrinka, Sam Querrey and Adrian Mannarino on his way there. That poor record is a product of him struggling with injuries throughout the year and not being able to hit his peak form in time for grass court season. Right now, he seems to be well prepared and ready to roll.
His opponent will be another savvy veteran with a bunch of experience on this surface. Simon opened his grass court season with a solid win over Gojowczyk in Stuttgart but lost in the 2nd round to the runner-up of the tournament, Felix Auger-Aliassime. I saw the majority of that match, where the Frenchman was mostly hurt in the serving department. He wasn't able to put high enough percentage of 1st serves in play, and the young Canadian completely picked apart his 2nd serve which was the key to break his serve 4 times in the match and win it in the end.
Whether that is something Ward as well is able to take advantage of, remains to be seen. Personally, I don't think he is as powerful of a player as Auger-Aliassime and will not as easily expose Simon's first strike tennis. Ward is someone that will have the upper hand in baseline rallies over many players in these conditions, but probably not Simon. Gilles has no issues with the low bounce, backhand slices, and no shape on the forehand. Stuff like that does not throw him off, because he will deal with it very patiently, forcing the opponent to take more risk and aim closer to the lines. It's interesting that their only H2H so far was played on this surface. It was a Davis Cup match in 2015 when Simon conceded only 9 games total in a 3-0 win.
Betting odds & prediction
I'm pretty sure that Ward is not going down that easily this time around. He is playing pretty well at the moment, while Simon is clearly past his prime. I expect this one to be very competitive. Despite lacking some big weapons that would help them hold their serves at a high percentage, I would still lean towards the over 22.5 games here with a 3rd set being a strong possibility. The case for the ML bet could be built for both sides. Simon matches up well vs Ward's style, while James is coming into this one with the full head of steam and being a highlight of the center court schedule in front of the home crowd. It doesn't get any better than that.
Josh's Pick: over 2.5 sets (+130)
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