It’s semi-final Saturday in the three ATP 250 events that make up week six of the 2014 ATP World Tour.
Friday’s bets were on the money, as both Jarkko Nieminen and Marin Cilic were winners in Montpellier and Zagreb respectively, the former with much more difficulty than I expected against Marc Gicquel, but the Finn got over the line in the end.
It was also a great day for Britain’s Dan Evans, who stunned Philipp Kohlschreiber and makes the semi-finals of a tour event for the first time in his career and all this as a lucky loser too.
Play begins at 1.45pm UK time in Montpellier on Saturday when Gael Monfils takes on Nieminen and I would expect the Frenchman to get the better of a rather fatigued Finn in this one.
Richard Gasquet 1.58 vs Jerzy Janowicz 2.30 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 14.45
The number one seed after seeing off one big server in Albano Olivetti on Friday faces another rather more accomplished one in Janowicz in a match that is clearly a big threat to Gasquet’s Montpellier title hopes.
Gasquet had few problems with Olivetti on Friday in a 6-4, 6-2 win in which he didn’t face a break point, but he surely will today against Janowicz who has found his form after an injury affected start to 2014.
The Gasman has a patchy record against big servers, with losses to Janowicz, John Isner, Milos Raonic and Ivo Karlovic and he doesn’t have a winning head-to-head record in completed matches against any of them, which has to be a concern to his backers in the pacy conditions here in Montpellier.
Janowicz overwhelmed Edouard Roger-Vasselin on Friday and recorded 18 aces in the process and if he finds his mark on serve again today this match could easily go his way.
Gasquet will need to be patient in this clash and make the most of any hint of a chance on the JJ service games and that’s sometimes been his downfall against huge servers.
Their two meetings last season were shared, with Gasquet winning comfortably on slow outdoor hard at Indian Wells and Janowicz getting the upper hand on clay in Rome somewhat surprisingly and in this first career meeting on indoor hard the Pole has a clear shot at 2.38.
I prefer other wagers though, with the over 2.5 sets and over 23.5 games both looking like decent options in what seems likely to be a tight match.
Janowicz plays in spurts and is unlikely to be able to win this in two, but he will surely have spells where he’s largely unplayable, so the over 2.5 sets at 2.18 looks the call here.
Evans’ reward for taking down Kohlschreiber is a clash with another German in Tommy Haas at around 5pm UK time in Zagreb and for me the 2-0 Haas at 1.67 looks the most likely outcome here now that Haas has some matches under his belt.
The Brit took advantage of some slack play from Kohlschreiber on Friday, but it seems unlikely that Haas will be as generous and I expect Tommy to move through to the final without too many dramas.
Cilic wasn’t great again on Friday in that win over Dodig, but the draw has been pretty kind to him and he next faces Bjorn Phau, who overcame a slow start to beat Dudi Sela yesterday.
The diminutive German veteran has already played six matches here this week after coming through qualifying and this is his best run at tour level since Houston on clay back in 2009 (when he beat Haas in the quarters).
I wouldn’t be too quick to lump on Cilic at 1.14 here, as he hasn’t impressed so far this week and Phau +4.5 games is worth considering at 2.08 in this one.
Back over 2.5 sets in Gasquet vs Janowicz at 2.18