Friday was another good day in Metz and St Petersburg, with two winners from two selections for this column. Martin Klizan’s straight sets win over Ricardas Berankis and Gael Monfils’s long match with Philipp Kohlschreiber were just what the doctor ordered after a frustrating start to the week.
Today is semi-final day in both cities. Mikhail Youzhny will have bad memories of this stage a year ago when he was beaten as favourite by Marin Cilic in straight sets and I wouldn’t want to be on the Russian today at 1.55 against an in-form Klizan.
There’s always an element of guesswork when two players have never played each other before, but I’m expecting a close tussle between these two players today. Klizan is yet to drop a set in the tournament and hasn’t had his serve broken once in his last two matches.
Youzhny, meanwhile, went AWOL in the second set of his match with Guillermo Garcia-Lopez yesterday and won just 10 points to lose it 6-0. He will be the more nervous here, as he tries to win the tournament in St Petersburg for the first time since way back in 2004.
The slow nature of the surface suits Klizan and these factors might be enough for him to make this a very interesting and close match. The 1.55 on him taking a set looks good, as does the 1.87 about this match going over the 22.5 total games mark.
Before all of that there’s the first semi in Russia, between two players that very few would have picked as contenders at an indoor hard court tournament: Fabio Fognini and Daniel Gimeno-Traver.
Again, this should be a close match, with the Spaniard in rare form and on an unbeaten run of eight matches. He hasn’t dropped a set in the last 16 that he’s played. The 5-1 head-to-head makes Fognini a 1.40 favourite for this, but he has lost six of his seven tour level semi-finals lifetime and I wouldn’t fancy him at that price.
A better bet for me is the 1.75 about Gimeno-Traver taking at least one set. This is only DGT’s third career semi-final at tour level and he’s been competitive in both. All the pressure will be on Fognini and I wouldn’t back him to deliver in those circumstances at 1.40.
Over in Metz, I would expect Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to overturn a 0-2 head-to-head with Nikolay Davydenko, who will be tired after a long, late night battle with Ivo Karlovic last night. Davy’s two wins against Jo-Wilf came four and five years ago when the Russian was at his peak and although he can’t be discounted on his best form, you would expect Tsonga at home to come through.
Another Frenchman in with a great chance today is Gael Monfils, who is 1.45 to beat Andreas Seppi for the fifth straight time. But fatigue is a concern for Lamonf after a long time out with injury. Seppi was in fine form against an admittedly tired-looking Florian Mayer yesterday and seems to be enjoying the conditions in Metz this year.
The head-to-head is a concern for Seppi backers, but they haven’t played each other since Seppi’s form markedly improved, so this should be closer than some of their previous encounters. Their last indoor meeting went very long and I would fancy the Italian to at least push the home favourite over the 22.5 total games mark here at 1.87
Back over 22.5 games in Klizan vs Youzhny at 1.87
Back Gimeno-Traver +1.5 sets to beat Fognini at 1.75
Back over 22.5 games in Seppi vs Monfils at 1.87