Saturday in week seven of the 2016 ATP World Tour is semi finals day in Rio de Janeiro, Marseille and Delray Beach.
Final spots are up for grabs at the Rio Open, Delray Beach Open and the Open 13 after another soggy and windy day in Brazil and Florida on Friday that wasn’t successful for our wagers.
Stan Wawrinka found his pal Benoit Paire on one of his good days and went down in three sets, saying afterwards: “This is the kind of defeat that makes me mad. There are things I have to do better. Although Benoit played very well, I know the game, I lose myself. I'm disappointed for myself and for the tournament.”
Quite, Stanley. Quite.
Also disappointing was the failure of Adrian Mannarino to serve out set two of his Delray Beach clash with Grigor Dimitrov and had he done that we surely would have found a winner for the ‘long shot’ bet of 2-1 to the Bulgarian.
Instead, Mannarino made it look very easy to go from *5-4 to 5-7, getting broken to love to lose the match on what has been a poor week for me on the outrights after two very good ones.
Finally, Alexandr Dolgopolov withdrew from his clash with Nadal in Rio with a shoulder injury, so that wager was void.
Nick Kyrgios vs Tomas Berdych
I don’t tend to be overly enthusiastic about betting on a Kyrgios match, due to his unstable mentality and inconsistent level of performance, but there seems to be a bit of value on his opponent today in Marseille.
Much of the end result of NK’s matches seems to be based on personality and whether he can bully his opponent, as he did against Richard Gasquet yesterday in a fine performance, but will he play that well again today?
I would suggest that it’s unlikely against an opponent with equally big weapons and a look at the Aussie’s record versus players of over 6’4” in height tells a tale, with only three wins in 14 matches for Kyrgios.
Losses to Paire, Jerzy Janowicz, Marinko Matosevic, John Isner, Daniel Brands and of course Berdych himself at the Australian Open recently don’t make good reading and the Berdman won’t be bullied by the brash Aussie in this 16:00 UK time start.
The fast conditions in Marseille do suit Kyrgios, but it was hardly slow in Melbourne and he was beaten fairly comfortably by Berdych in that one, so for me the same price about the Czech today as he was in Melbourne is decent value.
Away from grass Kyrgios is 2-9 versus the big servers on my list (of which both NK and Berdych are part of), while Berdych has won 12 of his last 15 against those big servers.
I’d suggest that Tomas should be a fraction shorter and that NK’s price has been affected too much by that impressive show against Gasquet, which makes the Czech the value bet today.
Rafael Nadal vs Pablo Cuevas
I was more than happy to take Nadal on to some extent with Dolgopolov yesterday, but I certainly do not feel the same way about Cuevas, who has a mental issue against the top players.
For a player with plenty of ability he’s never beaten a top-10 opponent on clay and he’s 4-16 versus the top-20 on the red dirt and 0-2 against Nadal, who is infinitely stronger mentally than the Uruguayan.
Cuevas flatters to deceive far too often and he’s one of many single-handed righties that find Rafa’s heavily spun topspin forehand just too tough to deal with.
Rafa will have enjoyed his day off yesterday, watching the rest of the field toil in very hot and humid conditions, and the last time he lost a semi final to a player ranked outside the top-30 was in Bangkok on indoor hard against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in 2010.
On clay he’s 23-1 in semi finals against opponents ranked outside the top-20, with the one loss coming against Fabio Fognini here last year and Cuevas doesn’t have the weapons to win this unless Nadal has a real shocker.
Still, I don’t fancy him at 1.18, and the under 21.5 games can be doubled up with Dominic Thiem to beat Guido Pella in straight sets to make a 3.50 ‘long shot’ double.
Thiem keeps surpassing expectations regarding his physical condition and after a long week in Buenos Aires the Austrian surprised a few by brushing aside David Ferrer in straight sets on Friday.
He could have been excused an early exit in Rio in the same tough conditions that he encountered in Argentina, but now that he’s in the semis against someone like Pella it’s hard to see him not fancying back-to-back titles.
Pella looked shattered yesterday in the heat of the day against Daniel Gimeno-Traver and he’s 2-8 versus the top-20 and this will be only his second semi final at this level (he lost the other one to Juan Monaco in Dusseldorf in 2013).
I’m still not 100 percent convinced about Thiem against lefties, but Pella doesn’t seem the sort to take advantage and surely Thiem won’t want to go three sets today after his recent workload.
Value bet: Back Berdych to beat Kyrgios at 1.68
Long shot: Back under 21.5 games in Nadal/Cuevas and Thiem to beat Pella 2-0 at 3.50