ATP Tour: Eastbourne Invitational Selected Round of 16 Matches Preview

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Damien Kayat previews two of the most anticipated round of 16 matches from the ATP Tour's Eastbourne Invitational. 

Denis Istomin 1/4 | Marco Cecchinato 26/10
This will be a clash of youth against experience as the journeyman Uzbekistani (there’s a phrase you don’t get to use every day) Denis Istomin takes on Marco Cecchinato. The 31-year-old Uzbekistani is certainly a player who comes to life on the grass courts. His season was really in a state of limbo prior to the grass-court season. He went on a run after Miami that saw him lose seven consecutive matches. But that included a fairly rousing five sets loss to Bautista-Agut in the first round of the French Open. The grass has been kinder to him, having already sealed a quarterfinal run in Stuttgart. The 2015 Nottingham Champion is a keen grass-court exponent, having reached the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2012. He beat a spirited Andreas Seppi in the opening match and will be hoping to pick up another big scalp.

Marco Cecchinato became the first Italian male in over forty years to reach a Grand Slam semi-final with that glorious run at Roland Garros. It was the ultimate turnaround for a player implicated in match-fixing a few years ago. But it was also the culmination of a run of steady improvement for a man whose game should be suited to the vagaries of grass. He plied his trade on both the ATP Tour proper and the adjacent Challenger Series this year. He won a Challenger event in Santiago before consecutive semi-final appearances in Marbella and Alicante. He then had a breakthrough in winning the Hungarian Open out of nowhere. But nobody could have predicted that French Open run, where he accounted for the likes of Djokovic, Goffin and Carreno Busta.

This will be the first time that these two have met. I think that could favour the wily old Istomin, who could use his significant grass-court guile to his advantage. But you just ignore the price of 26/10 for the recent Grand Slam semi-finalist. 

Andy Murray 5/10 | Kyle Edmund 29/20
Now this is lining up to be a wonderful battle within a battle, with current British Number One Kyle Edmund looking to hold off the displaced British Number One Andy Murray. Edmund has a game that should be ideally suited to grass. His run to the semi-finals at Melbourne preceded an injury drought that saw him drift in and out of tournaments for the early part of the season. A loss in the final of the Grand Prix Hassan II was the only real highlight of that period. But the move to the clay saw his form improve somewhat, with encouraging performances in both Madrid and Rome. Edmund is going to need to be at the top of his game as Andy Murray looked utterly devastating in his demolition of Stan Wawrinka.

Andy Murray has really taken his time in coming back from his multiple injury setbacks, which is perhaps what Novak Djokovic should have done a few months back. He never seemed jaded in any way against Stan Wawrinka, absolutely blitzing his fellow three-time Grand Slam Champion. The 2013 and 2016 Wimbledon Champion is a player who really depends on maximum physical efficiency. His all-court bustling style requires a huge amount of stamina and it was encouraging to see how effortless he seemed against Wawrinka. Upon his return to action at Queens he looked slightly jaded against Nick Kyrgios- who ironically enough also accounted for the demise of Kyle Edmund in a much tighter encounter.

Murray leads the career head-to-head 2-0, with both of those victories coming in 2016. Importantly one of those victories came on the grass-courts of Queens. But that was a different Kyle Edmund back then. And it was most certainly a different Andy Murray. At that point Murray and Djokovic were the two established powers in men’s tennis, seemingly usurping the rivalry of Nadal and Federer. 29/20 may be pretty good for Edmund this week. 

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Written by Damien Kayat for

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