The final Masters 1000 tournament of the 2014 season has reached its last-16 stage, with another packed day of tennis on the schedule at the BNP Paribas Open.
The race for London is still rumbling on, with Andy Murray able to qualify with a win over Grigor Dimitrov today, while Milos Raonic needs to keep winning to keep his chances alive.
Wednesday’s wagers went two from three, with Feli Lopez providing an excellent 2.28 winner in a comfortable straight sets success over Sam Querrey, but Pablo Cuevas was poor.
Jurgen Melzer ended the day for us with another odds-against winner when the Austrian took the second set of his match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, so we ended the day with a nice profit.
Kei Nishikori vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Yesterday’s Tsonga match went more or less the way I had expected, with the Frenchman varying wildly between decent and awful and Melzer, despite missing a lot of chances, did manage to extend Jo to three sets.
It was a fairly typical display from a rusty player coming back from injury and there were the expected lapses from the crowd favourite, which won’t stand him in good stead this afternoon against Nishikori.
Our US Open finalist of 2014 himself took a while to warm up in his first match for three weeks in beating a hobbled Tommy Robredo yesterday and that should have him about right to face an opponent who is a good match up for the Japanese.
In these fairly slow conditions Tsonga will more than likely overhit trying to out-rally Nishikori, whose speedy defences and ultra solid ball striking off both wings are generally too much for Tsonga.
Nishikori has won four of their five prior meetings, including a memorable one here a year ago, which went to a final set breaker, and the Japanese has improved since that clash.
Of course, it’s all about fitness at this stage of the season, but hopefully Nishikori’s three weeks off since Shanghai have helped in that regard and if he’s fit he should be a little too classy for the Frenchman.
Novak Djokovic vs Gael Monfils
Lamonf is so often the gallant loser in these sorts of matches that the immediately obvious bet is to take the 2-1 on the world number one in this 19:30 UK time clash at a price of around the 3.80 mark.
Indeed, Monfils has lost by that scoreline against Djokovic the last four times they’ve met in all competitions and also the one time they met in this tournament, which was the 2009 final.
Going further, Monfils has lost 2-1 the last three times he’s faced either Djokovic, Rafa Nadal or Roger Federer in best of three matches and that pretty much sums up his career, along with the injuries and messing about on court.
A superb entertainer and crowd favourite, but always just falls short at the vital time and it’s hard to get away from the feeling that that will be the outcome again today.
After saying he wouldn’t play here due to injury Monfils seemed perfectly fine again last night in a two set win over John Isner and with that Davis Cup final in mind he wouldn’t be too distraught with another gallant loss here after thrilling the crowd for a while.
Elsewhere, it’s hard to see Roger Federer playing as poorly today as he was yesterday for the most part against Jeremy Chardy when he takes on Lucas Pouille.
Roberto Bautista-Agut is in good form and also has a decent record against big servers, with wins over the likes of Tomas Berdych, Jerzy Janowicz, Juan Martin Del Potro, Sam Groth, Jack Sock and Lukas Rosol this year, so he could cause a surprise against Milos Raonic.
RBA played well yesterday against Richard Gasquet and his flat shots can make Raonic work hard to keep himself in contention for the World Tour Finals today.
David Ferrer can take advantage of any slip from the Canadian to qualify for London himself by beating Fernando Verdasco, but Ferrer is plenty short enough in price today.
I expect Ferrer will prove just too determined for Verdasco though, but the underdog can make it tough if he shows some of the good form from the victory over Gilles Simon.
Back Nishikori to beat Tsonga at 1.57
Back Djokovic to beat Monfils 2-1 at 3.80