Friday in week 43 of the 2015 ATP World Tour is quarter finals day at the Valencia Open and Swiss Indoors, with eight matches on the card for today.
The likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will be in action, but Kevin Anderson won’t be there, as he was knocked out by my +1.5 sets tip of Thursday, Donald Young.
Anderson was taken down in straight sets by Young, who made it a quick 2.50 winner in Basel, and my other ‘value bet’ alternative suggestions also won, with Mischa Zverev and Joao Sousa both prevailing at odds against.
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez was a winner for ‘sure thing’ backers, but a poor tie break in set from Dominic Thiem against Richard Gasquet ultimately did for the chances of my 2-1 to Gasquet ‘long shot’ from winning.
Roberto Bautista-Agut vs Mischa Zverev
I said yesterday that I liked the chances of Zverev against Fabio Fognini and the German duly defeated the Italian in two sets, although he did have a bit of a scare (as did his backers) when he slipped and fell in game 10 of set two, but he seemed to be okay.
Zverev did enough to get past a largely disinterested Fognini, who said afterwards: “I'm tired and eager to finish the season.”
No surprise there, then, and the news of Fognini’s demise will have been well received by Bautista-Agut, who doesn’t fare well against the Italian and often gets distracted by his antics across the net.
I’m sure that RBA would much rather face world number 215 Zverev than Fognini, with the German having lost 14 of his 16 ATP World Tour quarter finals, and three of his last four have come on grass.
Bautista-Agut has a great record in the quarter finals of ATP World Tour events, with 11 wins from his last 12 matches (the one loss was to Kei Nishikori) and 13 wins from 17 matches in all in his career.
He’s never lost a quarter final on the tour to a player ranked lower than him, but he has lost seven of his last eight matches to left-handers, such as Zverev.
That is a concern, but I don’t think it’s quick enough for Zverev to really cause too many problems for RBA, who has a 16-3 record as a 1.20 to 1.30 favourite on tour and in majors.
Jack Sock looks much too short at 1.27 against Young, while fellow American Stevie Johnson is also on the tight side against Garcia-Lopez, with both Americans likely to be getting tired after a lot of tennis over the last 10 days.
Vasek Pospisil vs Daniel Brands
It’s been a welcome return to form for Brands, who before this week in Valancia hadn’t played at tour level in the main draw since Vienna 2014, and today he faces the man who knocked him out of that tournament in Austria last year.
The big German had mainly been playing his trade in Challengers and Futures this season before qualifying here in Valencia, but he’s back in form and this is a player who has beaten Roger Federer and should have been two sets up on Rafa Nadal at the French Open.
Both of those aforementioned matches were in 2013 and he’s really lost his way since, but the withdrawal of David Ferrer allowed him to face lucky loser Albert Montanes on Thursday and he duly beat the veteran Spaniard for the second time this week.
So Brands is back in a tour level quarter final for the first time since Doha in 2013 and this match with Pospisil at 12:00 UK time has all the hallmarks of a serve dominated affair.
That Vienna clash between them saw two tie breaks in three sets and with Pospisil sitting uncomfortably between Gilles Muller and Milos Raonic in the lower reaches of the ‘return games won’ stat category this season breaks are likely to be at a premium.
Pospisil breaks serve 14 percent of the time and holds 85 percent of the time this season, while Brands has similar stats, and the over 9.5 games in set one or the over 22.5 total games look the ones here.
I also like Joao Sousa to get the better of Pablo Cuevas, who was a little fortunate that Bernard "I'm playing top five tennis right now" Tomic checked out of their round two clash after looking all over the winner. The Portuguese scrapper seems to revel in these conditions and I'd give him the edge in that Valencia clash at around 14:00 UK time.
Rafa Nadal is another possible choice over Marin Cilic, but that one looks tricky to call and one I'd rather watch than have a bet on.
Roger Federer vs David Goffin
Federer was severely tested by Philipp Kohlschreiber on Thursday night and during that match the fans favourite looked slow and off the pace in sets two and three.
Kohlschreiber has made a career out of going toe-to-toe with the world’s best players and coming up short and he did it again last night when he had the advantage of serving first in the decider, but chucking it away (as he so often does) at 4-4.
Federer was ineffective on return of serve and was perhaps guilty of taking his foot off the gas after winning set one against an opponent he’s beaten so many times, but Goffin could be a test in Friday’s 19:00 UK time start.
This is a repeat of last year’s final here in Basel in which Federer was a comfortable winner, but really Goffin was overawed playing his hero in a final in Switzerland and I expect better from the Belgian this time.
Goffin’s season is far from petering out, with a huge Davis Cup clash to come and he’ll want to go into that series of matches with confidence – and of course he’d love to beat his idol.
If Goffin finds his best form he can certainly take a set – as he did in their first clash on clay at the French Open back in 2012 – and the +1.5 sets at 2.75 looks good here.
To make it a 4.40 ‘long shot’ adding Gasquet to the mix to beat Ivo Karlovic should do the trick in these conditions.
It’s not quick enough here for Ivo to play his game effectively and Gasquet has the ability to pass the big man down both wings at will, such is his raw talent.
Gasquet has won four of their five prior meetings and the lack of pace in this Greenset surface should allow the Gasman to soak up the pressure and come out on top.
Sure thing: Back Bautista-Agut to beat Zverev at 1.28
Value bet: Back over 22.5 games in Brands/Pospisil at 1.74
Long shot: Back Goffin +1.5 sets and Gasquet to beat Karlovic at 4.40