Friday is quarter finals day in Kuala Lumpur and Shenzhen in week 39 of the 2015 ATP World Tour.
Tomas Berdych, Marin Cilic, David Ferrer and Nick Kyrgios are among those in action after a tough day on Thursday that should have yielded a lot more than it actually did.
‘Long shot’ Joao Sousa was 4-2 ahead of Grigor Dimitrov in the final set of their Malaysian Open clash before going on to lose a match he really should have won – as should Marcos Baghdatis.
Baghdatis looked all over the likely winner at the start of his final set against Vasek Pospisil, with the Canadian struggling badly with cramp, but Baggy seemed more concerned about Vashy’s health than winning the match and it cost him.
The ‘sure thing’ wager got back on track thanks to wins from Marin Cilic and Adrian Mannarino and we have eight matches to choose from on quarter finals day on Friday.
Last year’s quarter finals in Kuala Lumpur were all won by the favourites, while in Shenzhen two underdogs were successful, with Juan Monaco a successful 3.22 chance against Richard Gasquet.
The conditions may play a part in Shenzhen, where it’s going to be 31C and really humid and rain could also delay matters there.
That puts me off Hyeon Chung against Cilic and in these circumstances the youngster is too short at 2.65 against the vastly experienced Cilic, despite a scratchy showing from the Croat on Thursday.
Chung was a 4.71 shot when he lost to Cilic a couple of months ago and he looks no value at all in tough conditions today at a much shorter price.
Tommy Robredo vs Simone Bolelli
Bolelli has played a lot of tennis over the last fortnight – 14 sets in total – and in the expected conditions in Shenzhen on Friday this looks a really tough assignment for the Italian.
Robredo had to come from two sets down to beat Bolelli in their most recent clash, which was at the 2014 US Open, but he ran away with it in the end and having made the final here a year ago the Spaniard should be motivated to go deep again.
He’ll certainly be the fresher player, having played only nine sets since New York, and he’s much the more reliable of this pair, with Bolelli often lacking patience and producing his killer shot at the wrong times.
Conditions in Shenzhen aid the Robredo game and negate his relative lack of power compared to Bolelli and I would have had Tommy as more like a 1.50 chance to come out on top here, given Bolelli's 2-11 record in his last 13 matches against top-30 opposition and 23 percent win ratio lifetime against such opponents.
The -1.5 games on Robredo at 1.74 looks lime a good option for value seekers on Friday, while I also see a hint of value on Adrian Mannarino in his Shenzhen clash with Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
I’m not convinced about Mannarino’s fitness though and that puts me off him, but GGL does struggle against lefties generally and it’s one to consider if you trust the Frenchman’s physical condition more than I do.
I’m on Nick Kyrgios outright in Kuala Lumpur this week and the early signs are good, but he faces a mental test on Friday against Ivo Karlovic, and it’s one I think he can pass.
Karlovic has never been keen on this swing of the tour and Kyrgios should be far more motivated, although he’s too short in price on Friday, in what should be close to an even money match.
Tomas Berdych vs Jiri Vesely
It looks slim pickings for ‘sure thing’ backers on Friday, with Berdych seeming the best option as a 1.20 chance against fellow Czech Vesely.
Berdych doesn’t tend to lose to Czechs, with a 13-3 record overall, and the last time he failed to win against a fellow countryman was against Robin Vik in Dubai way back in 2006.
The Berdman has won all 10 since then and in this first meeting with Vesely I would expect it to be too quick for the 22-year-old, who has a 0-6 record so far against top-10 opponents.
Vesely has won only one of his 15 sets against top-10 opponents and Berdych has won 12 of his last 14 against lefties and 19 of his last 21 against opponents under the age of 23.
The two under 23s to beat Berdych were Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori and Vesely isn’t in that sort of class and I’d be questioning whether he’ll be able to cope with the humid conditions too.
Berdych has won his last nine as a 1.20 to 1.30 favourite, with only one set dropped in the process, and it all looks set up for Tomas to make the semi finals at the expense of his fellow countryman.
Grigor Dimitrov vs Benjamin Becker
The ‘long shots’ today consist essentially of Vesely, Becker and Mikhail Kukushkin and German veteran Becker seems the likeliest of the three to at least pose problems for the favourite on Friday.
Becker seems to enjoy conditions here in Kuala Lumpur, where he made the quarters last year as well, and if we see a similar sort of level from Dimitrov that we witnessed on Thursday he has a bit of a chance on his best form.
Dimitrov’s latest coach Franco Davin won’t have been too impressed with Dimitrov’s level against Sousa, but he will have taken heart from the way that the Bulgarian battled to get the win from 2-4 down in set three at least.
Becker enjoyed two wins over Dimitrov way back in 2009 and I wouldn’t put it past him taking this 13:30 UK time clash to a deciding set, with the 2-1 to Dimitrov at 3.85 looking the most attractive wager.
Very surprisingly, Dimitrov has never lost at main level as a 1.20 to 1.30 favourite, with 22 straight wins since his debut at that price against Donald Young at the 2012 French Open.
He’s lost five times as a 1.01 to 1.20 chance, including the most recent one against Kukushkin at the US Open a month ago, but never at the next price range of 1.20 to 1.30.
That record will probably continue on Friday, but his concentration is far from great, and with Becker possessing a very good serve he is more than capable and confident after beating Jeremy Chardy in the last round.
Kukushkin has a squeak of shocking David Ferrer, who has had suffered some bad results at this tournament, but his 0-5 record against Ferrer is hardly encouraging and Becker seems to have more of a shot.
The one match I haven’t mentioned is for a reason and that’s Pospisil versus Feli Lopez and it looks a really tough one to call given Pospisil’s cramping on Thursday.
The obvious bet would be Lopez, but he’s far from trustworthy on indoor hard, and it looks one to avoid to me.
Sure thing: Back Berdych to beat Vesely at 1.20
Value bet: Back Robredo -1.5 games to beat Bolelli at 1.74
Long shot: Back Dimitrov to beat Becker 2-1 at 3.85