There’s quarter final action to look forward to on Friday in week seven of the 2016 ATP World Tour, with several top-10 stars on display today across our three tournaments.
Things didn’t work out quite as planned yesterday, but we still enjoyed winners for the ‘sure thing’ wager and for one of the two ‘value bets’ when Richard Gasquet and Guido Pella were successful in Marseille and Rio respectively.
Alexander Zverev pushed Tomas Berdych, as I expected, but not in the correct set for one ‘value bet’, while Nicolas Almagro did the same against Rafa Nadal.
We’ve got all 12 quarter finals in Rio, Delray Beach and Marseille set for today, with the forecast looking a bit dodgy again in Brazil for scattered thunderstorms and in Delray Beach there’s a slight chance of rain.
Grigor Dimitrov vs Adrian Mannarino
The Frenchman was one of my outright picks in Delray Beach this week at 33-1 and this clash with Dimitrov was always going to be the deciding factor as to whether that bet worked out or not.
I was happy to take on Dimitrov in his first ever match in the blustery conditions of Delray Beach and he went and won it in straight sets and instead struggled badly against weak opposition in his round two match.
Dimitrov was a break down in the final set against Damir Dzumhur and in the end scored only two more points than the diminutive Bosnian in a very scrappy win, but conditions are tough in Florida as usual.
Mannarino has been his usual up and down self, winning a set he should have lost against Tatsuma Ito then losing one he should have won, before edging home also in three sets.
But Dimitrov has never lost to a leftie on a hard court at main level whose name was not Rafael Nadal and I like the 2-1 win to the Bulgarian here at a price of around the 3.80 mark.
Mannarino has a poor record against top-25 opposition (Dimitrov will be back in the top-25 if he makes the final here, which looks likely should he win today) with a 6-17 mark on outdoor hard and he’s lost 11 of his last 12 on all surfaces.
That came after a win over Stan Wawrinka in Miami last spring, so he can pop up and beat the top players, but a more likely outcome (unfortunately for my outright) is that Dimitrov will just prove too strong in the end as he usually does against lefties.
Stanislas Wawrinka vs Benoit Paire
This pair of good friends have met seven times in their careers, with Wawrinka winning six of them and after a battling display in round one here against Sergiy Stakhovsky it is highly likely that the Swiss will be victorious again.
Wawrinka had to save match points and rode his luck in the final set tie break against Stakho, but he won’t face anything like the same challenge (and probably not anything like the same determination) from Paire today.
The moody Frenchman edged home in unconvincing fashion against 30-year-old world number 196 Vincent Millot on Thursday and doesn’t seem to be in the right sort of form at the moment after a hip problem hampered him early in the season.
Stan won all three of his clashes with his mate Paire very easily last season, including in the second round here in Marseille, and leads their set score overall by 13 to four.
This is Paire’s first quarter final in France in 12 tournaments since he made the final in Montellier in 2013 and it’s fair to say he’s had a fractious relationship with the French tennis-watching public due to his somewhat take it or leave it attitude.
Wawrinka looked up for the fight in round one, so hopefully he’ll continue in that fashion on Friday and if he does he’ll surely be too much for Paire.
Rafael Nadal vs Alexandr Dolgopolov
The Dog will be looking to have his day again when he faces Nadal for the eighth time, having won his last two and been close in the previous one, which was in the final here in 2014.
Nadal was no more than average again versus Almagro yesterday and the second set in particular was very mediocre from the former world number one, who will need better today if he’s going to justify a price of around the 1.20 mark.
Dolgo was a slow starter against Inigo Cervantes, but once he began to find his range he was a very comfortable winner and dished out one of three bagels that were delivered in Rio on Thursday.
The quirky Ukrainian’s game style has not been to Nadal’s liking of late, with Dolgo beating him in Indian Wells on slow outdoor hard and on grass at Queen’s last season and although you’d have to make Rafa the favourite on the red dirt his price of 1.20 seems very short.
I’m not convinced at all about Nadal’s movement these days compared to his glory days and if Dolgo finds his ‘A’ game he could easily win this one, but the safer play is either the +4.5 games or +1.5 sets on the world number 33.
Sure thing: Back Wawrinka to beat Paire at 1.27
Value bet: Back Dolgopolov +1.5 sets to beat Nadal at 2.10
Long shot: Back Dimitrov to beat Mannarino 2-1 at 3.85