The quarter-finals on week six of the 2014 ATP Tour are set for Friday and it’s fair to say there are a few eye opening names in the last eight this week.
Britain’s lucky loser Dan Evans is there in Zagreb, along with qualifiers Bjorn Phau (or Bernard Phau if you listen to a certain commentator this week) and Andrey Kuznetsov, while in Montpellier we have Marc Gicquel and Albano Olivetti chasing semi-final spots.
Thursday was a perfect day for my bets with Ivan Dodig surviving a tough first set to ease past Ivo Karlovic, while all of my suggested wagers were winners during the Tommy Haas/Benjamin Becker clash.
Jarkko Nieminen 1.48 vs Marc Gicquel 2.55 – BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 11.35
I said yesterday that I wasn’t too sure how much Nieminen has left in him and questioned him as clear favourite against Pierre-Hugues Herbert. He didn’t exactly heap scorn upon my comments with a 7-6, 7-6 win over the 22-year-old world number 160.
The Finn faces an opponent at the opposite end of the career spectrum today though in Gicquel, who at almost 37 is into his first tour level quarter final since Auckland over four years ago.
Gicquel is here thanks in no small part to Michael Llodra having the flu and Gilles Simon possessing a body that he should probably donate to medical science. He put them both away as a big underdog, but there was certainly substantial assistance.
Nieminen may well not have a great deal left to offer in terms of competing for titles, but he should certainly have enough to end the run of Gicquel, who last won a tour level quarter-final in Amersfoort back in 2008 and holds a 6-15 career record in last eight matches, losing his last seven since that run at the now defunct Dutch Open.
Jarkko holds a 4-0 record over Gicquel and surely this is where Marc’s great run ends – unless Nieminen comes down with the flu of course. He has admitted to feeling tired, but then again they all do.
Elsewhere in Montpellier, Gael Monfils may well face a stern test from Denis Istomin and with Gael’s body I wouldn’t be too keen on him at 1.32, but compatriot Richard Gasquet should figure out the game of Albano Olivetti without too many problems.
The Jerzy Janowicz/Edouard Roger-Vasselin clash could well be the most competitive of the day at the Open Sud de France and I’d be tempted with the over 23.5 total games in that one.
Marin Cilic 1.60 vs Ivan Dodig 2.30
Another all-Croatian clash in the PBZ Zagreb Indoors at around 13.35 UK time sees Cilic taking on Dodig for the seventh time in their careers and I’m happy to take the 1.60 about Marin in this one.
I’m deserting Dodig today after taking him against Karlovic, as in truth he was a little fortunate to defeat Ivo in straight sets given the number of chances that the latter wasted – including numerous set points and all seven break points in total.
Dodig stuck to his serve and volley tactics well in that match, but Karlovic doesn’t have the skill on his ground strokes – especially the backhand that Cilic possesses – and although it’s fair to say that Marin hasn’t been great this week either he should be good enough to beat what seems a below-par Dodig.
Whether Ivan still has back issues I’m not sure, but he doesn’t look in great nick and although this one could go long I’ll back Cilic to progress here.
Britain’s Dan Evans has a tough-looking one against Philipp Kohlschreiber, who took advantage of a fatigued Andrey Golubev yesterday and the German should go through to the last four, as should Haas over Andrey Kuznetsov.
Dudi Sela has been playing well here and I said yesterday that he looked a good bet to beat Lukas Lacko. That proved correct and although I expect him to beat Phau today he’s too short at 1.45 for a player of his lack of consistency.
Back Nieminen to beat Gicquel at 1.57
Back Cilic to beat Dodig at 1.60