It’s semi-final Saturday in our three ATP World Tour events this week in Rio, Marseille and Delray Beach.
And we head into the weekend in good shape after another two winners from three from a profitable day’s tennis betting on Friday.
Thomaz Bellucci was the star of the show for me, as the flashy Brazilian took the opening set against David Ferrer at a tasty 4.25, before the overs cash machine that is John Isner played out another three-setter. The only disappointment on the day was the feeble showing from Feli Lopez, who was awful against Steve Johnson and was popping pills during the match for some ailment or other.
Our first action on Saturday comes from the Open 13 in Marseille, where the two top seeds and local favourites are trying to make the final.
Richard Gasquet 1.60 vs Ernests Gulbis 2.30 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 13.05
Last week in Rotterdam Gulbis showed some fine form coming into the semis and then failed to produce anything at all in his last four clash with Tomas Berdych and I’m yet to be convinced by him when the pressure is on.
The eccentric Latvian has a 4-6 record in semi-finals and although he can be a huge threat to the best on his day, those days tend to come when he’s a dangerous underdog in early rounds and not when there’s a title in sight.
He’s yet to beat a top-10 player in a semi-final and a win over Mardy Fish in the LA final of 2011 remains the only success over a top player in the latter stages of a tournament.
His 8-33 record against top-10 opponents and 2-9 on indoor hard along with his questionable temperament suggest to me that 2.30 is too short and at home in France Gasquet’s motivation will be higher.
Conditions should suit Gulbis here, but I have to put a huge question mark over his ability to handle the business end of a tournament against better players. The 1.60 on Gasquet looks the bet here.
Jan-Lennard Struff 5.00 vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 1.16 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV on 14.05
Follwing the Gasquet match at around 14.05 will be German 23-year-old Struff’s first foray into a tour level semi final and he faces the considerable presence of defending champion Tsonga.
Struff has always had his supporters at home in Germany, where he has been touted as a decent prospect for a while, but until this week he had produced very little at tour level.
He took advantage of a physically below par Michael Llodra yesterday and his serve and return games have been working very well this week.
It’ll be their first meeting and Tsonga should win it, but he hasn’t impressed me at all this week and 1.16 is a tad short. If Struff continues to serve well the set one over 9.5 games at 1.94 looks value against a returner as poor as Jo.
In this season’s tour matches the slow to start Tsonga has gone over 9.5 games in set one seven times from eight matches, including against Filippo Volandri on a hard court, so the odds are in our favour in this bet.
Over in Rio Rafa Nadal looks like he’ll march unopposed into the final after another simple win last night, this time against Joao Sousa for the loss of a single game.
Nadal takes on Pablo Andujar, who had a surprisingly comfortable win over Tommy Robredo last night and the Spaniard should push Rafa closer than the likes of Sousa and co, but unless Nadal’s back plays up it’s hard to see anything other than a 2-0 Rafa win.
David Ferrer vs Alexandr Dolgopolov
Dolgo has shown a rare determination here in Rio this week, which makes him a dangerous underdog against Ferrer in this 8pm UK time encounter tonight.
Dolgo took down an exhausted Fabio Fognini yesterday comfortably, while Ferrer had to come from a set down to defeat Bellucci and there’s no reason why the Ukrainian can’t at least cause some temporary problems for Ferrer in this one.
His unorthodox game does give Ferrer a good test and Dolgo has taken a set at least from the Spaniard in five of their last six meetings and in both previous matches on clay.
The 2.2 about Dolgo +1.5 sets or the overs look the bets in this one, with Dolgopolov worth risking when he looks like he fancies the job, as he seems to this week.
Over in Delray Beach the overs will surely come into play again with Isner and Marin Cilic facing off at 1.30am UK time, while Kevin Anderson should edge past Steve Johnson.
Back Gasquet to beat Gulbis at 1.60
Back over 9.5 games in set one of Tsonga/Struff at 1.94
Back Dolgopolov + 1.5 sets to beat Ferrer at 2.2