We’re down to the semi-final stages of the last ATP 250 tournaments of the 2014 season, with plenty to play for still in Vienna, Stockholm and Moscow.
Andy Murray and David Ferrer are still hunting ranking points at the Erste Bank Open, while Tomas Berdych and Grigor Dimitrov do the same in at the Stockholm Open and Marin Cilic tries his luck at the Kremlin Cup.
My one selection on Friday was a nice 2.20 winner when Matthias Bachinger overcame the loss of the opening set to take down Adrian Mannarino in Stockholm and record a nice profit on the day.
Play starts from 13:00 UK time in Vienna, which will be live on British Eurosport, and half an hour later in Moscow and a further 30 minutes after that in Stockholm on Saturday.
Andy Murray vs Viktor Troicki
There’s likely to be a bit of needle – if you’ll pardon the pun – in this one, when Troicki faces Murray for the sixth time in the Erste Bank Open semi final.
The Serbian, who was banned for failing to provide a blood sample, ostensibly because of his fear of needles, was criticised by Murray for that transgression and the emotional Troicki won’t have forgotten the lack of support from the Brit.
So, despite Troicki having played an inordinate number of matches since July 21 – an incredible 44 to Murray’s 24 in the same time frame – he’ll find the energy from somewhere for this one.
Another memorable incident between these two came at the French Open in 2011 when not only did Murray come from two sets down to win, but Troicki was hampered by a ball boy as he was about to put a smash away and had to replay a point he’d pretty much won.
The ball boy entered the court to catch a ball that he thought was falling short of the net and it ended in Viktor coming out on the wrong side.
So, he’ll be very much motivated here and it will be interesting to see how close he can push Murray today after having made some improvements to his game during that period on the sidelines.
The serve has clearly stepped up a notch and after beating the likes of David Ferrer in his comeback thus far Troicki can at least use that delivery to make for a tight opening set against the Scot.
Andy has done enough so far this week without really impressing and he should be made to work hard today, with the over 9.5 games in set one appealing at 1.96 here, as does the 4.30 about Troicki taking the opener for bigger priced punters.
Murray can’t be backed at prices like 1.11 and despite his perfect record against Troicki things are different now, with Troicki having improved and arguably Murray having regressed since their last meet.
The first set market might also be decent in the Ferrer/Philipp Kohlschreiber match, with the German failing to serve out a straight sets win over the Spaniard in their last clash.
It was a choke from Kohlschreiber, who let Ferrer off the hook in Cincy, and the 2.80 about Kohlschreiber taking the opener is worthy of consideration there.
I don’t see upsets in Stockholm, but Bernie Tomic could make it close against Grigor Dimitrov, who produced amazing back-to-back hotdog winners yesterday.
Tomic will enjoy this one as underdog and the 2-1 to Dimitrov at 3.75 or the over 21.5 total games appeal there.
Tomas Berdych should have too much for Bachinger, but I’m slightly tempted with the 3.75 about over 10.5 games in set one of that match, with Berdych never having faced the German before and it could take a while to get on top of the in-form underdog.
In Moscow Ernests Gulbis didn’t look at all comfortable with that injured shoulder yesterday, with the Latvian poking and rubbing it in a tight win over Andreas Seppi, but he’ll want to beat Roberto Bautista Agut today.
The pair are not exactly friends after various altercations and Gulbis calling RBA “a spoilt princess” in the past and that looks one to avoid to me.
But Mikhail Kukushkin could well be a problem for Marin Cilic and the 3.35 on the in-form Kazakh might not be the worst choice today.
Back over 9.5 games in set one of Murray/Troicki at 1.96