The quarter-finals of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters take place on Friday, with most of the world’s top male players in action.
Thursday was a bit off a write off, as the withdrawal of Nicolas Almagro voided my opening wager of the day in the Spaniard’s match against Stan Wawrinka, while David Ferrer was too good on the day for Grigor Dimitrov.
It was Ferrer’s best performance for some time and although Dimitrov did put a shift in, he couldn’t break down the brick wall across the net from him, despite taking an early lead in the match.
Indeed, all of the outright tournament favourites won easily, with Rafa Nadal coming through in fewer than 16.5 games, as I said yesterday, while Novak Djokovic dropped just the one game again and Roger Federer eased past Lukas Rosol.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 3.70 vs Roger Federer 1.26 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 12.05
No prizes for guessing that I’m going against Tsonga again here, with the Frenchman having a complete breakdown from Fabio Fognini to thank for allowing him to reach this stage of the tournament.
Fogna was in total control of their last-16 clash yesterday until he failed to take one of numerous break points at 3-3 and then collapsed in spectacular and pathetic style.
From then on Tsonga didn’t have an opponent on court, but he will today, as he faces Federer for the 15th time, with the Swiss maestro leading the series 10-4 currently.
On clay, they’ve met just twice, with Tsonga winning at the French Open last year when Federer was really struggling, and the latter was victorious in Rome in 2011.
In 2014 their levels have changed again, with Federer producing by far the better tennis of the two this year, while Tsonga has looked well off the pace.
Roger was a comfortable winner in Melbourne in January in their last meeting and Tsonga just doesn’t beat top players anymore – unless they implode like a certain Italian that is.
That win over Federer in Paris last year was Jo’s last against a top-10 opponent and from his last 24 matches against such opponents he’s won just three stretching back almost exactly two years.
There is a school of thought that Tsonga plays better at home in France, where he can draw energy from the crowd’s support and his win stats are better in France, but I would suggest that’s largely due to the fact he plays plenty of ATP 250 events at home against mediocre opposition.
For me the bets to consider here are the Federer 2-0 at 1.75 or Federer minus 3.5 games at 1.68 and I prefer that, as Jo’s serve looked so breakable yesterday that even Federer, who is often profligate with his break point chances, should do it twice.
The Swiss opened at around 1.40 for this and is now a 1.26 shot, which says a lot.
Novak Djokovic 1.02 vs Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 18.00 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 13.35
These two are coming into this match at totally the opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of fatigue, with GGL having played eight matches (19 sets) since April 9 and Novak in the same time frame having played just 14 total games.
It was another facile win for Djokovic yesterday against a limited clay court grinder in Pablo Carreno-Busta, who managed, like Albert Montanes before him, to take just the one game from Novak.
Having arrived at this tournament not only with the inconvenience of a so-called expert in his camp in Boris Becker (who has zero career clay court titles) advising him, but carrying a wrist problem too, Djokovic has performed very well.
Perhaps it’s because he doesn’t feel fully confident in his wrist that he’s looked to wrap things up quickly so far, but it seems much more likely that it was just a tweak and he should be fully fit today.
GGL is playing arguably the best tennis of his career at the moment out of nowhere, having won Casablanca last week and he’s carried that confidence over to Monaco, where he took down Tomas Berdych yesterday.
Berdych did seem to be struggling with a back problem and he leaked errors all over the place, but the Spaniard deserves some credit too, and if he’s ever going to test Djokovic it will be today.
Guillermo has lost all five of his previous meetings to Novak and latterly they haven’t been close at all. Trying again on the back of such a heavy schedule may well yield a similar result, but to give him a 7.5 game start seems very generous.
The Spaniard, who will rise to number 32 in the rankings and look to be seeded in the French Open even if he loses today, has been serving so well that he should cover that handicap at 1.52.
Should GGL pull off a memorable win – he has beaten Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray in the past – he'll rise to number 27 in the rankings and the adrenalin should see him at least give Novak his closest match this week so far.
Back Federer –3.5 games to beat Tsonga at 1.68
Back Garcia-Lopez +7.5 games to beat Djokovic at 1.52