Friday at the ATP China Open and Japan Open features the quarter-finals of both of these ATP 500 events on week 40 of the 2013 Tour.
Yesterday’s wagers proved to be disappointing, thanks to a feeble effort from Feli Lopez and an impressive showing from Milos Raonic. Lopez decided that he couldn’t be bothered after losing a tight first set on a tie breaker and barely offered even token resistance after that, while Raonic was too good on the day for Jeremy Chardy.
Jarkko Nieminen vs Ivan Dodig
The Croatian landed a nice winner for this column earlier in the week when he took down Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and he looks a good bet again today when he takes on the man from Finland.
The pair played out a marathon in Melbourne in their only previous career meeting in January of this year, which Dodig got the better of in the final set and they do battle again at 3am UK time on Friday morning.
Jarkko has had a tricky route to this last eight stage and was struggling against Michal Przysiezny in his previous round before getting the better of the Pole. Dodig though is playing the best tennis of his career right now and is likely to equal his highest ever world ranking of 32 should he win this match. That will make him a seed at the Australian Open if he can hold onto or improve upon that, which should be good motivation for Dodig.
The draw has opened up in the bottom half in Tokyo, with the winner probably playing Raonic for a place in the final and if Dodig serves as well as he has been doing he should be too powerful for Nieminen. Dodig minus 2.5 games on the handicap looks the one here at 1.75.
Sam Querrey vs Novak Djokovic
If you fancy a real longshot today then this looks the best opportunity, with Querrey playing some superb tennis this week in Beijing, while the world number one looks a little jaded and perhaps struggling at the end of another tough season.
Big Sam has played far fewer matches than Nole – 47 to 66 – and this could aid the American, who has played Djokovic tough before. He famously beat Novak in Bercy last year after losing the opening set 6-0 and should have done so again in Davis Cup this spring when after they split two tie break sets Djokovic fell and still won the remaining two sets 6-1, 6-0.
Of course, that says it all about the lack of mental strength of Querrey and he’ll probably capitulate again today, but he definitely has a chance against the Djokovic that dropped set on Thursday to Fernando Verdasco. Novak being Novak he may well come out and show his best form on Friday, but I fancy Sam to keep this close – at least early on and the 1.98 about the first set going over 9.5 games looks a touch of value here.
Elsewhere, when the odds come out for Richard Gasquet against David Ferrer, that could well represent value on the Frenchman, who ended the Spaniard’s dominance over him in style in New York. The slower conditions in Beijing will help Ferrer, but it’s still worth considering siding with Gasquet, with Ferrer in very average form right now.
Back Dodig –2.5 games to beat Nieminen at 1.75
Back over 9.5 games in set one of Djokovic/Querrey at 1.98