It’s quarter-finals day on Friday in the last ATP 500 events of the 2013 season in Basel and Valencia.
Thursday was a profitable day, thanks to Paul-Henri Mathieu, who landed a very nice odds-against win at around 2.65 over the predictably disinterested Michael Llodra, who yet again appeared to be injured, performed poorly and then went on to win his doubles match later in the day. If only all players were as easy to read as Llodra.
Unfortunately, Joao Sousa was unable to make it a double on the day, as he faltered late in the second set against Jerzy Janowicz and was unable to take the required set.
Friday’s quarter-finals in Valencia start with a tricky-looking encounter between two tour veterans in Jarkko Nieminen and Mikhail Youzhny. That one could go either way, as could the match that follows it between Dmitry Tursunov and Jeremy Chardy and neither offers much value for me from a betting perspective. Perhaps there's a slight bit of value on Nieminen, but that match could be anything.
I could say the same about Daniel Brands vs Edouard Roger-Vasselin, which is another coin-toss, but there may be some value in Vasek Pospisil as underdog against Ivan Dodig, although it’s only marginal.
In his home tournament David Ferrer should take care of Jerzy Janowicz, whose arm seems to be miraculously OK again, but JJ could easily nick a set if he serves well. So there may be some handicap value there, but for me there are two matches that stand out today in terms of value.
Grigor Dimitrov vs Roger Federer
Billed by many no doubt as Fed vs Baby Fed, this will be the first ever meeting of the Swiss maestro and his wannabe Dimitrov. If the Bulgarian doesn’t choke playing the great man on his home turf, he has a great shot here at around 2.60.
Federer is in serious decline and it was actually quite sad to watch him shanking and misfiring against Denis Istomin in the opening round in a match that should have been won by Istomin, so poor was Federer in the opening set.
Istomin let Federer off the hook though, but even the home crowd in Basel must have been wondering who this imposter version of their hero was and any repeat of that level from the Swiss tonight should see Dimitrov a comfortable winner.
The Bulgarian goes through spells on the tour where he’s really very good and others where he’s awful and at the moment he’s on the up after linking up with Roger Rasheed. Winning his first tour level tournament in Stockholm last week will have helped no end.
It’s a good time for him to play Federer and my only real concern here is not Fed outplaying Dimitrov, but the latter bottling it when coming face to face over the net with his former idol.
Nicolas Almagro vs Fabio Fognini
This match also takes place at around 7pm UK time but over in Valencia and the value here has to be with the mercurial Italian, if he can be bothered to put the effort in.
Almagro claims to have rediscovered his mojo after a North American hard court swing where he didn’t win a single match. A few results started to return in Asia and the Spaniard says he’s enjoying his tennis again.
His results at this time of the year are generally poor though and his record on indoor hard is a losing one - although so is Fognini’s of course - but the Italian has had a much better season overall and is improving on hard courts.
Almagro has advanced to the last eight by beating two poor players in Pablo Andujar and Michal Przysiezny. Having won their most recent two meetings the value here has to lie with Fogna – if he fancies it, which is always the caveat with him.
One would have to conclude that he must fancy it here, as he took down Marcel Granollers, who loves it in Valencia, in straight sets and he certainly has the talent to win this on a slow surface. It’s worth chancing his attitude today at 2.85 or +1.5 sets on the handicap at 1.70.
Back Dimitrov to beat Federer at 2.60
Back Fognini to beat Almagro at 2.85
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