Friday is quarter finals day on week five of the 2016 ATP World Tour, with a dozen matches scheduled for today in Montpellier, Quito and Sofia.
A frustrating defeat for the ‘long shot’ opened proceedings on Thursday when Ricardas Berankis had his chances against Gilles Muller, including serving for set two, but somehow pulled a 2-0 loss out of a promising situation
Just prior to that Filip Krajinovic withdrew from his scheduled match against Roberto Bautista-Agut to mean a void for the first part of my ‘sure thing’ double, but part two was a winner and also for those who took the -5.5 games on Philipp Kohlschreiber against Damir Dzumhur.
We did get an underdog winner with John Millman though, as the Aussie came back from a set down to defeat Edouard-Roger Vasselin in Montpellier, and those who took my other ‘long shot’ suggestions of Dustin Brown, Rajeev Ram, Renzo Olivo and Joao Souza all got good runs for their money and a couple of nice-priced wins.
Michael Berrer vs Alexander Zverev
For my money Zverev has been out in a touch short here in this all-German clash in Montpellier, with the experienced Berrer playing a style that is unusual and awkward for some of the game’s bright young talents to deal with
Berrer has already beaten Borna Coric three times and defeated Zverev in their only career clash thus far, which was on outdoor hard courts in Beijing last autumn.
Few players on the tour these days play like Berrer and it’s asking a lot for Zverev to back up a career best win over Marin Cilic the next day and overcome a totally different challenge as a 1.50 favourite.
“I really felt like this one was probably the best match I ever played,” said Zverev after his win over Cilic, who I said might take a little time to get going in that match, and it’s not too often that 18-year-olds produce the two best matches of their career back-to-back.
None of the dozen matches today are a ‘sure thing’ for the favourites today for me and instead I like the 1.55 about Berrer winning a set in this 13:00 UK time start against Zverev.
I’d be impressed if the teenager was able to win this one in two given the awkward style of Berrer and +1.5 sets on the latter is the one here.
Zverev is yet to win a match at tour level in straight sets as a 1.60 favourite or shorter and I’d expect that to continue on Friday.
Dustin Brown vs Ruben Bemelmans
Perhaps not the quarter final in Montpellier that the tournament were hoping for and indeed it’s been a rare poor year for French players at the Open Sud De France, with only two home players left at the last eight stage.
But this one has the makings of an entertaining clash between this pair of big serving and somewhat unpredictable sorts, with the betting value lying with the Belgian.
Brown was at his best yesterday coming out all guns blazing and taking the match to Gilles Simon, but it’s a rare sight indeed to see the German produce those types of performances in consecutive matches.
The erratic German’s last four tournament losses have come against Dennis Novak, Novak Djokovic, Egor Gerasimov and Mirza Basic, while his last wins have been against Simon and Steve Darcis, which sums Brown up nicely.
He’s lost eight times in the last six months as a 1.60 favourite or shorter, with losses to the likes of Connor Smith, Marek Michalicka, Sekou Bangoura, and Aldin Setkic among those and I don’t see any value at all in him as a 1.58 chance here.
Brown has won three of their five prior clashes, but all bar one were over five years ago and Bemelmans won the last one in 2015 in Miami and Brown’s 4-7 record against lefties at tour level hardly inspires either.
Marcos Baghdatis vs Richard Gasquet
The Gasman clearly has some sort of mental block playing against Baghdatis, with the Cypriot coming out on top on all three prior occasions the pair have met – on indoor hard, outdoor hard and grass.
Indeed, Gasquet is yet to take a set from Baggy and that sort of thing weights heavily on the weak mind of the delicate Frenchman, who is playing only his second match in three months today.
If Gasquet goes into his shell again and allows Baghdatis to dictate play on this lively Montpellier surface it wouldn’t be a shock if Baggy pulled off another win, but I’m going to be more circumspect in this one and just take him to win one set as half of a long shot double.
The second half features my outright tip this week in Quito, Victor Estrella Burgos, who seems to be continuing his love affair with the Ecuador Open after two straight sets wins so far.
And the 2.55 about another 2-0 win – this time against Renzo Olivo – is quite possible in this 21:00 UK time clash in Quito and it would make a 4.21 double for Friday.
Estrella has won both of his priors with Olivo – one in this tournament last year – but more of a factor today is likely to be fatigue, with Olivo having another three setter yesterday, making it 10 sets already in Quito and 30 so far in 2016.
Estrella has played only 17 in 2016 and four here in Quito and we may see Olivo fade in this match after a heavy schedule.
Sure thing: Back Berrer +1.5 sets to beat Zverev at 1.55
Value bet: Back Bemelmans to beat Brown at 2.38
Long shot: Back Baghdatis +1.5 sets and Estrella 2-0 at 4.21