The semi-finals of the Thailand Open and Malaysian Open are Saturday’s focus on week 39 of the 2013 ATP World Tour.
It’s another early start for European tennis fans and punters, as there are no night matches on Saturday, meaning a 7am start or thereabouts at both venues.
Gilles Simon vs Tomas Berdych
I see little value on the big Czech in this 7am UK time clash in Bangkok, with Berdych opening as a 1.37 favourite against the in-form Frenchman, who landed the Metz title last week.
If Simon looked to be in good shape then I would recommend a wager on him, but he looked spent at times against Igor Sijsling on Friday. It later transpired that he has a back problem and on top of likely fatigue from last week and the switch of time zones, it is a real gamble on his physical condition.
Simon has a fine head-to-head record against Berdych, as he usually waits it out until the Berdman loses patience, which is a tactic he can use in these quite slow conditions. Sijsling managed to hit through Simon on numerous occasions on Friday though and I’m not convinced that Gilles will be in any state to fend off Berdych.
This may well mean that we continue to see Simon coming to the net and serve/volleying, which he did regularly against the Dutchman to keep the points short. The prices look to have taken Simon’s condition into account and with Gilles likely to fade here, the under 9.5 games in set two looks the bet at 2.06.
Jurgen Melzer vs Joao Sousa
The Portuguese is improving in leaps and bounds on hard courts at the moment and is really making the most of his opportunities right now. After taking down Grigor Dimitrov and Jarkko Nieminen in New York, Sousa has gone on to make the last four in St Petersburg and now in Kuala Lumpur where he defeated world number four and number one seed David Ferrer in straight sets on Friday.
Melzer has made harder work of things and had been doubtful with a shoulder problem coming into this week, but he has done enough against more modest opposition of the calibre of Mischa Zverev and Federico Delbonis.
The way that Sousa is playing this is a step up from that and Melzer will need to use all his big match experience if he’s to come through this. Again, there has to be question marks over Sousa’s fitness, as he has now played 25 sets since the US Open, while Melzer has played less than half that amount.
So, it’s a clear fitness advantage for Melzer and one thinks back to last week when Sousa was a virtual no show in the semi in Russia. He’s likely to hit the wall again here after too much tennis. The 1.96 on Melzer minus 2.5 games on the handicap looks the call in this one.
Back under 9.5 games in set two of Berdych/Simon at 2.06
Back Melzer -2.5 games to beat Sousa at 1.96
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