Friday is quarter finals day here in Estoril and at this week’s other two ATP 250 tournaments in Munich and Istanbul.
It’s my last day at the Millennium Estoril Open and after a great week of tennis at this friendly and well-organised event it’s time to head back to the UK tonight.
And it was pleasing to get a couple of bigger-priced winners over the line on Thursday and those on the 4.20 about Dominic Thiem beating Fabio Fognini in straight sets enjoyed a most comfortable success in Munich.
The Italian was indeed on another of those ‘can’t be bothered days’ and barely held serve at all in a 3-6, 0-6 slump to the Austrian.
That was swiftly followed by a win for my ‘value bet’ when an in-form Guillermo Garcia Lopez proved a bit too classy for Kevin Anderson and won despite a second set lapse in concentration.
And late at night Borna Coric made it a clean sweep of winners on the day with a three set success over a determined Rui Machado.
Richard Gasquet vs Nicolas Almagro
This looks the match of the day here in Estoril and though I’ll be on a plane when this one takes place it should be an entertaining tussle between these two stylish exponents of the single-handed backhand.
Almagro is favourite here, with his 2-0 record on clay against Gasquet, who has lost his last four against Spaniards on the red dirt going back to his last win, which was over Albert Ramos here in Estoril in the 2012 semi finals.
Since then he’s lost to Daniel Gimeno-Traver, David Ferrer, Albert Montanes and Fernando Verdasco and he hasn’t beaten a Spanish player ranked inside the top-30 on clay since 2011.
That said, Almagro perhaps doesn’t look the most appealing of prices at 1.57, based on all I’ve seen from him this season since his comeback from injury, but as a 1.50 to 1.60 favourite he does have a 17-8 record on clay with wins in the last six straight.
I often feel with Nico that he’s worth siding with on the handicap, as he has won all of those six matches I just mentioned by at least a four game margin and the only win of his on clay this season when he didn’t prevail by four was against Blaz Rola back in February.
That was Almagro’s first match on clay of his comeback from injury and the other nine of his wins have all seen him cover a 3.5 game handicap let alone the 2.5 he needs to cover today.
I don’t see any of the four favourites in Estoril as ‘sure things’ today, with underdogs having chances in all the quarter final clashes.
Coric and Garcia-Lopez will both be fatigued, which makes their 16:30 clash a tough one to call, while Robin Haase is capable on a good day of beating Nick Kyrgios on clay.
The Dutchman has won five of his last six quarter finals, with the one he failed to win ending in retirement against Tommy Robredo, so he shouldn’t be discounted here.
Pablo Carreno-Busta has had two gimmes to reach this stage and Gilles Muller could be a tough nut to crack in one that could well go long.
But it appears to be a bit of a different story in Munich, where two favourites look solid.
They start early there – weather permitting – at 10:00 UK time and after beating Fognini yesterday Thiem can be backed to be end the good fortune of Gerald Melzer in a double with Andy Murray that pays around 1.26.
Melzer has played only five games in total to reach the quarter finals as a lucky loser after Pablo Andujar retired and he’s out of his depth here in his first ATP Tour last eight match.
Indeed, Melzer has only won one match at tour level in his career (excluding the Andujar retirement) and Thiem should win this, although it may not be that comfortably against a fellow Austrian who’s played him tough before.
Murray may be subjected to a tough work out from Rosol and set one to the Czech at 4.50 may not be the worst bet in the world, but surely the Scot will come though in the end.
The forecast looks awful for today in Munich, so a 10am start seems highly unlikely and they may not get any play all day if the weathermen are correct.
Roberto Bautista-Agut vs Victor Estrella Burgos
The delay in proceedings in Munich may well be good for Estrella, who probably won’t get on court today at all, as this one is scheduled last of the four quarter finals.
A tough round two win over Janko Tipsarevic will take a bit of recovering from and with this match likely to be played on Saturday the 4.30 on the Dominican looks the best of the big prices.
Regularly under rated by the layers VEB’s record against the top-20 is very good, with a 50 percent win mark after successes over Gasquet, Feli Lopez and Marin Cilic in the last 10 months.
The Cilic win came a few weeks ago in Barcelona and this is a dangerous match for RBA, who has lost two of his last four as a favourite in the price range of 1.20 to 1.30, while Estrella has a 7-3 record on clay at tour level as a betting underdog – all within the last calendar year.
Over in Istanbul today Roger Federer brings a record of 36-2 on clay since 2007 against player ranked outside the top-50 into his match with Daniel Gimeno-Traver.
The two losses came when Fed was struggling with a change of racquet in his poor 2013 season and it would be a shock if DGT were to get the better of the Swiss maestro.
Pablo Cuevas should gain revenge for his Miami loss to Thomaz Bellucci, while Santi Giraldo could well win as underdog against Diego Sebastian Schwartzman.
Sure thing: Back Murray and Thiem in a double at 1.26
Value bet: Back Almagro -2.5 games to beat Gasquet at 2.02
Long shot: Back Estrella Burgos to beat Bautista-Agut at 4.30