We’ve reached the quarter final stage in week two’s ATP 250 tournaments in Sydney and Auckland and semi final spots are up for grabs on Thursday.
Wednesday was another profitable day’s tennis betting, with Viktor Troicki providing a 10th straight ‘sure thing’ winner and Adrian Mannarino landing a nice ‘long shot’ touch at 2.95 with a win over Roberto Bautista-Agut.
Jan-Lennard Struff came within a single point of making it a clean sweep of three, but lost the set one tie break against Kevin Anderson, having led 5-3 in it at one stage.
It’s a fair bet that the tournament director is tearing his hair out at the Heineken Open after injury, illness and apathy deprived the Kiwi public of seeing David Ferrer, John Isner, Roberto Bautista-Agut, Tommy Robredo and Ernests Gulbis in the last eight – or at all.
Instead, they’ll get lucky losers Alejandro Falla and Lucas Pouille, plus Donald Young, Jiri Vesely, and Albert Ramos, with Kevin Anderson the only top-20 star on show.
A year ago in Auckland and Sydney seven of eight favourites were successful at this quarter final stage, but today’s ‘sure thing’ is no easy choice, with five of Thursday’s matches priced up as if they could go either way.
Juan Martin Del Potro vs Mikhail Kukushkin
The obvious concern here with Delpo is his suspect wrist, but it seems fine at the moment and the Argentine at 1.40 looks to me to be a better choice than the 1.26 shot of Bernard Tomic.
Tomic looks short at that price against an opponent in Gilles Muller who has beaten him on all three previous occasions they’ve met and for me the Aussie is no cert there.
Delpo’s forehand looks as good as ever and I’m not convinced that Kukushkin is the man to expose any weaknesses in the backhand side of the Tower of Tandil in his first ever quarter final at tour level on outdoor hard.
The Kazakh has made six previous quarter finals on hard on the tour, but they’ve all been indoors, so this is new territory for Kukushkin, whose record against top-10 opponents (as a fit Delpo most definitely is) is 2-18.
At this stage of his comeback I wouldn’t be surprised if JMDP dropped a set here, but I don’t see Kukushkin coming out on top here even with Delpo relying mainly on the forehand.
Viktor Troicki vs Simone Bolelli
Another player who is in fairly new territory in the quarter finals of an ATP World Tour event on outdoor hard is Bolelli, who has only once made this stage on this surface.
That was in Doha two years ago and it ended in a crushing 6-1, 6-1 loss to Nikolay Davydenko and while that scoreline seems unlikely to be repeated against Troicki I’m happy to stick with the Serbian here.
The head-to-head is misleading here, with two of Bolelli’s three wins over Troicki coming when the latter was outside the world’s top-200 and they haven’t met on tour since way back in 2009.
Troicki took a set to bet going against Pablo Andujar on Wednesday, but he was a fairly comfortable winner in the end, while Bolelli’s price today is partially due to the Italian beating number two seed David Goffin in straight sets.
Bolelli can look a million dollars at times, but consistency has always been his problem, and stringing two excellent matches together back-to-back is not his forte.
The Serbian has made 11 quarters or better on outdoor hard since 2008 and he has a 5-6 record in last eight matches on this surface, while Bolelli tends to prefer the clay.
It’s always risky betting against Bolelli in case he’s on one of his days where he can’t miss, but I fancy Troicki to get the better of him in these conditions.
Adrian Mannarino vs Alejandro Falla
We’ve had a couple of winners with Mannarino this week, but he looks far too short today against fellow leftie Falla at a price of around 1.30.
The Frenchman was perhaps a little fortunate to land my long shot wager on Wednesday when RBA retired with illness and prior to that he wasn’t tested at all by Federico Delbonis.
Falla had been on a shocking run of form coming into this week’s tournament in Auckland, but he’s made the most of his opportunities and turned around a loss to Kenny de Schepper in qualies by beating the Frenchman in the main draw.
The Colombian will believe he can win this and why not, with Mannarino holding a 4-7 record against left-handers at main level in his career, compared to Falla’s 10-16.
In quarter finals on outdoor hard Mannarino is 1-2 at main level, while Falla is 1-4, however the latter’s opponents were tough, with David Ferrer, Andy Murray, Tommy Haas and a then-16-ranked Mardy Fish the players that defeated him.
This could be much closer than the odds suggest and 3.40 on Falla, who defeated Mannarino in their only prior clash, seems the best of the big prices today.
Sure thing: Back Del Potro to beat Kukushkin at 1.40
Value bet: Back Troicki to beat Bolelli at 1.80
Long shot: Back Falla to beat Mannarino at 3.40