The quarter-finals of the 2014 Internazionali BNL d’Italia are all set for Friday at the Foro Italico in Rome after another testing day in the Italian capital.
Thursday ended in very pleasing style for this column though when my 4.30 tip of Novak Djokovic to beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 2-1 proved to be successful.
Prior to that there was misfortune when Milos Raonic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga ended their encounter a single game shy of the overs mark, but Novak’s comeback win over his German opponent put that in the shade.
Elsewhere, I said yesterday that Tommy Haas had a set in him against Stan Wawrinka and he did even better by taking down the Swiss number one, who later admitted he’s been struggling with a bad back.
We begin at 11.00 UK time, with what could be another tough day for Raonic against Roger Federer's conqueror Jeremy Chardy.
Milos Raonic 1.33 vs Jeremy Chardy 3.20 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 11.05
Incredibly, the Canadian serving machine that is Raonic has made his fourth Masters 1000 quarter final from five this season, and on paper he has a decent draw here.
Milos has beaten Chardy in all four of their career meetings so far, including last week on clay in Madrid, but it was at altitude last week and these conditions are more akin to what the purists would call ‘proper’ clay court tennis.
Chardy is one the best examples around of the streaky player, who gets inspired and goes on runs deep into tournaments and then disappears for weeks and months at a time and he looks like he’s really feeling it right now.
His win over Roger Federer in very tough conditions clearly gave him a boost and he backed it up nicely with a straight sets win over the tough Ivan Dodig yesterday.
My concerns are a foot injury that Chardy had the trainer out for and the likelihood of more wind around today, but he seemed fine after a visit from the trainer and he’s already proven he can play in the wind.
He doesn’t have a fabulous record against big servers, but Chardy has beaten John Isner, Juan Martin Del Potro, Tsonga, and Sam Querrey in the past, so he’s no rabbit in the headlights against them either.
Milos owes me one after downing two of my bets by very small margins this week and to that end I will side with Chardy +1.5 sets here at 1.75.
The Frenchman is a better performer on this surface and could well beat Raonic here at 3.20 and from his point of view if he doesn’t at least get close today in favourable conditions he probably never will.
David Ferrer 3.60 vs Novak Djokovic 1.27 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 15.05
This 15.00 UK time clash is very intriguing with potential value on the Spaniard in this 20th meeting in all competitions and 17th at tour level, with the Serb leading 11-5 currently.
Most of their meetings have come on hard courts though, with their last nine stretching back to the end of the 2011 season being played on hard or indoor hard and Novak has won all bar one.
On clay it’s a different story, with Ferrer a 3-1 leader, but most of those matches go back a very long way and the most relevant factors here are current form and fitness, which do favour the Spaniard.
Kohlschreiber was pathetic last night after being broken early in set two and he seemed to think that was his day done, but we won’t see that sort of attitude from Ferrer today.
This will be a real test for Novak anyway, even without the wrist problems that he’s had, and Ferrer has looked very determined and focused this week after a sketchy season by his standards.
It’s a test that Djokovic may well be up to, but with just a couple of matches under his belt in a month the 1.27 about a Serbian win here looks tight. The 1.90 about Ferrer +1.5 sets looks a better choice.
Back Chardy +1.5 sets to beat Raonic at 1.75
Back Ferrer +1.5 sets to beat Djokovic at 1.90