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Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Bedene ready to give big Ivo the early heave-ho

British number four is enjoying a successful season

Aljaz Bedene has been in fine form in 2017 and could enjoy Wimbledon
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Wimbledon men's day-one matches
BBC1, BBC2 & BBCi, from 11.30am Monday

Karlovic v Bedene
All eyes will be on Andy Murray when he opens proceedings on Centre Court at 1pm, but patriotic home fans could enjoy their time on Court Three on day one when veteran Ivo Karlovic takes on Britain’s Aljaz Bedene.

Karlovic, at 6ft 11in the tallest player to grace the All England Club courts in recent years, has been involved in many memorable clashes in the London Grand Slam down the years and reached the quarter-finals in 2009.

But while Karlovic tends to produce his best tennis on grass and is likely to be tough to be beat, Bedene has a golden opportunity to post a home win against the 38-year-old Croatian giant.

It has not exactly been streets-paved-with-gold stuff for Bedene since he left Slovenia, where he was born, for a new life in London.

But with Dan Evans' career likely to suffer in the wake of a positive test for cocaine, there could be better times ahead for world number 56 Bedene, who sits only eight spots behind British number two Kyle Edmund in the rankings.

Bedene is enjoying a decent season too and the fact that he has won all three of his previous clashes with Karlovic suggests he knows how to topple the goliath.

While things are looking up for Bedene, Karlovic, who is seeded 21st in the third Slam of the year, had been struggling for form until reaching the Den Bosch final last month.

But while Karlovic tends to make hay at this time of year, he is no certainty for a long stay in London.

Bedene, who beat big Ivo on clay in Bucharest in April and on hard courts last year and in 2011, has been suffered losses to Novak Djokovic, Milos Raonic and Lucas Pouille this year in the wake of nailing Challenger titles in Texas, France and Italy so there is nothing wrong with his game going into the grass Slam.

Karlovic has seen more support to gain his first victory in their personal series, but given their history and Bedene's form a punt on the British number four looks warranted.

Hills go 19-10 but their rules require the match runs its full course, so it may be wiser to take the 15-8 with BetBright, who ask that one set is completed.

Recommendation
A Bedene
1pt 15-8 BetBright


Kohlschreiber v Cilic
Marin Cilic has been touted as a live outsider for the title this year following his run to the Queen's Club final, but while Karlovic's compatriot served well in Barons Court he still committed many unforced errors in the semi-finals and final.

Andy Murray's former coach Jonas Bjorkman looks to be doing a fine job with improving Cilic's serving accuracy, though, and while the seventh seed looks to have a tough couple of early rounds against Philipp Kohl­schreiber and, if successful against the German, Victor Troicki or Florian Mayer, he may be playing well enough to dismiss Kohl in straight sets.

It's 11-10 that Cilic, who is just 18-1 for the title this year, triumphs in double-quick time and that looks fair enough.

Recommendation
M Cilic to win 3-0
1pt 11-10 Sky Bet

Bedene has been beaten by Novak Djokovic, Milos Raonic and Lucas Pouille in the wake of nailing three Challenger titles
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