The semi finals of the Grand Prix Hassan II are in play on Saturday at the Complexe Al Amal in Casablanca.
And things went a little more to plan on Friday when my best bet of Marcel Granollers to beat Pablo Carreno Busta won rather comfortably in the end after Granollers dropped the opening set on the tie break to his fellow Spaniard.
Granollers delivered a 6-3, 6-0 drubbing to PCB in the remaining two sets and he goes forward to face another man who I said would win yesterday, Federico Delbonis.
Marcel Granollers 1.98, Federico Delbonis 1.78
Delbonis, the Argentine leftie, did enough to take down Victor Hanescu in straight sets on Friday and is one of the most improved players on the tour on clay courts over the last nine months or so.
Should Delbonis defeat Granollers today and go on to win the final on Sunday he’ll make a big jump in the rankings to number 33 and overtake Marcel in the process, but it certainly won’t be easy.
The pair have met on one prior occasion, which was at altitude in Gstaad on the clay last summer and Granollers won it in straight sets, but there were mitigating circumstances for Delbonis in that one.
Gstaad came the very next week after Delbonis had played eight matches to make the Hamburg final as a qualifier, defeating the likes of Roger Federer in the process, and Federico admitted his fatigue had got the better of him after that match, though it was clear for all to see anyway.
On a more even keel this time I’d give the 23-year-old a good chance today and if he finds his best level on those leftie groundstrokes Granollers may find himself pinned back too often for a player who likes to get to the net.
A good volleyer, honed from plenty of doubles matches, Granollers will look to shorten some of the points by sneaking in and we’ll see how successful Delbonis is from either keeping his opponent away from the net or passing him should he get there.
This could well be tight and those looking for a big priced bet today could do worse than consider the 2-1 to Delbonis at 4.20, while the 1.78 about an Argentine win here also looks good.
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez Roberto 1.38, Carballes Baena 2.95
This all-Spanish affair is perhaps not the semi final anyone expected to see at the start of the tournament, but that’s in keeping with the norm in Casablanca, where upsets and surprises are plentiful.
We’ve seen that more than ever this year at the Complexe Al Amal, with 13 underdog winners in the main draw so far, which far outstrips the eight such winners in 2013 and five in 2012
Hardly surprising when you look at stats like Carballes Baena’s yesterday, where he saved an incredible 14 of 15 break points against him in his quarter final with Andrey Kuznetsov and took four of six of his won opportunities to record what looks on paper a comfortable win
Pretty clutch from someone playing only their second tournament at tour level, but he did admit afterwards that he’s feeling it after six matches – one of which was over three hours long – and I suspect today is where his run ends.
GGL has overcome some decent opposition and all in straight sets this week, which gives him a big fitness advantage over RCB and I expect the latter to have little left in the tank today.
The minus 3.5 games appeals in this one at 1.87 for that reason and looks the best betting option in this 15.30 UK time encounter
Best Bet: Back Delbonis to beat Granollers at 1.78