Friday is quarter finals day in Rotterdam, Buenos Aires and Memphis on the ATP World Tour, with 12 matches on the card today.
And hopefully there’ll be some better luck around after our set one to Denis Istomin wager against Grigor Dimitrov at 3.40 failed by a single point in a tie break in Rotterdam.
There was no luck involved in Darian King’s awful loss to Mikhail Kukushkin, with the Barbadian admitting that, “I didn’t play my best tennis,” after losing eight straight games from 4-3* in the opener.
I watched most of that one as well and although the angle isn’t the best to watch from on the Grandstand stream from Memphis it was clear that King was only competitive for a few games in set one.
On to Friday then and we’ve lost Gilles Simon and Pablo Cuevas as outrights, with the latter falling victim to the best performance from Alexandr Dolgopolov for a very long time in Buenos Aires.
We’ve still got Tomas Berdych in Rotterdam, who brings a 4-0 career series lead over Martin Klizan into today’s opening match at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, but anything is possible with Klizan.
I always keep in mind the possibility of a 6-0 or 0-6 set with Klizan, who’s been involved in 23 bagel sets at main level in his career so far.
We also have Ryan Harrison batting for us in Memphis later and hopefully he should justify favouritism over Damir Dzumhur in their late night (03:30 UK time approx.) encounter.
Marin Cilic vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
I think we have to side with Cilic in this eighth career meeting, with Tsonga, for me, priced up too short it what isn’t far off a 50/50 match by my reckoning.
If anything, the edge goes to Cilic, with the former US Open champion having won five of their six most recent career meetings and in a backhand-to-backhand duel you’d have to favour Cilic.
It’s nothing new for Cilic to be priced up as underdog in this match-up, as he’s been the dog in all six of their main level career clashes, yet Cilic has won five of them.
So, it’s a clear advantage in the head-to-head series, with Cilic having beaten Tsonga on all four surfaces, and you wouldn’t think that this slowish surface in Rotterdam would be one that Tsonga would pick if he had a choice.
Indeed, Cilic has a 10-3 record here in Rotterdam, and just looked to be coming back to a bit of form in a three setter against Borna Coric, after a very poor start to the season.
The six sets he’s had so far will be of great benefit to him and Cilic also just edges the service hold/break stats on indoor hard over the past year at main level, with 87.6% holds and 20.2% breaks (107.8 total) compared with Tsonga’s 86.4% holds and 21% breaks (107.4 total).
There’s very little in it, but Cilic holds serve more often than Tsonga (88.8% to 87%) in their head-to-head career series, but again there’s little in it.
The layers have gone with Tsonga as favourite again this time due to his better early season form, but they’ve got it wrong on five of the last six occasions and may well be incorrect again.
At the very least Tsonga at this price is no value at all (also considering that he’s lost seven of his last 11 when priced up as 1.50 to 1.70 favourite) and Cilic may well be starting to find his feet after an early season struggle.
The other favourites in Rotterdam look pretty solid, with Dimitrov facing his bunny David Goffin and Dominic Thiem taking on Pierre Hugues-Herbert.
Gerald Melzer vs Alexandr Dolgopolov
Dolgo was excellent yesterday against Cuevas, but that certainly doesn’t mean he’ll be at the same level today and he looks mighty short in price in this 19:00 UK time start against Austrian lefty Melzer.
The unpredictable Ukrainian hadn’t won back-to-back matches against top-100 opposition since Acapulco last year prior to this week and his record as a 1.40 to 1.60 favourite of late is dire.
Dolgo has lost seven of his last 10 in that price range and on clay he’s only won 12 of 22 matches in his main level career when priced up between 1.40 and 1.60, so he’s hardly one to trust at this sort of price.
His clay stats over the past year at main level aren’t as good as those of Melzer, with a very good 85.3% service hold figure, but a poor 14.7% break of serve mark and against a decent server like Melzer that could be his problem today.
Melzer has a strong service hold percentage of 84.9 on clay at main level over the past year and he breaks more often than Dolgo at 17.8% for a slightly better overall total of 102.7 in these conditions.
Dolgo has lost his last six matches in a row to lefties (including Zeballos, Nishioka and Young) and he hasn’t played one on clay for almost exactly a year, so in a first meeting with Melzer I wouldn’t have a bar on him at 1.46.
The Austrian has acquitted himself well this season, with a tight 7-6, 7-5 loss to world number one Andy Murray on a hard court highlighting his ability, and he looks to be well-suited by these slow conditions in Buenos Aires.
It’s a bit of guesswork, as to how Melzer takes to Dolgo’s funky playing style and it might be that the Ukrianian comes out on top here, but all things considered he looks much too short in price for me.
Elsewhere, on the stats Thiago Monteiro has a fine chance against Carlos Berlocq as underdog, but I’m not sure I want to back against Charly with a Brazilian here in Buenos Aires, where he seems to play a lot better than anywhere else.
I’d be tempted by the 2-1 win at 4.10 to Pablo Carreno Busta in what looks a tight clash with Albert Ramos, but I expect PCB to have a little more energy if that one goes to a third.
In Memphis, Stevie Johnson has been very vocal (again) about his dislike for something and this time it’s the balls (Robin Soderling’s RS Black) used at the tournament.
“They’re awful,” he said. “They’re the worst balls I’ve ever played with.”
Pretty unequivocal there Stevie and with big servers struggling he can’t really be backed as favourite today against even Kukushkin, who Johnson lost to last time they met (on a slow hard court).
Nikoloz Basilashvili has been excellent of late and I’m annoyed I didn’t go with him against Ivo Karlovic yesterday and you’d think he’d have the beating of Matt Ebden, while John Isner will probably be just too solid on the big points against the emotional Donald Young.
1 point win Cilic to beat Tsonga at 2.23
1 point win Melzer to beat Dolgopolov at 2.70