The semi finals of both of our ATP 250 tournaments in China and Malaysia are set for Saturday in week 39 of the season.
My handicap wager on Tommy Robredo proved successful on Friday morning at the Shenzhen Open when the Spaniard came through a tough three setter in hot conditions against Andreas Seppi.
Robredo takes his place in the semis in China against Santi Giraldo, who came back from a 1-5 deficit in the opening set tie break of his quarter final with Viktor Troicki to win in two.
Play starts at around 07:00 UK time on Saturday in Shenzhen and 15 minutes later in Kuala Lumpur and the opening matches at each venue look the most tempting from a betting viewpoint.
Tommy Robredo vs Santiago Giraldo
This fourth meeting between Robredo and Giraldo looks like arguably the best opportunity to back an underdog on Saturday.
Juan Monaco has a slim chance against Andy Murray at the 09:00 start in Shenzhen, but for me injuries have taken their toll on Pico and he’s not the player his was – although the same could perhaps be levelled at Murray.
Richard Gasquet should have taken care of Monaco in straight sets, but threw so many chances away, and although Monaco has beaten Murray twice the last was in 2010 and it would be a surprise if the Scot was defeated there.
So, albeit at a much shorter price I prefer the chances of Giraldo, who has won two of his three meets with Robredo and who didn’t have anything like as long a match on Friday.
Robredo and Seppi slugged it out for over two-and-a-half hours in the midday sun and that may have taken something from the Spaniard, who was being outhit by Seppi at times.
Typically, Seppi faltered at the vital time, which was good news for our wager, but Giraldo has added some extra pop in his forehand this season and certainly has the ability to cause a minor upset here.
The Colombian played for an hour less than Robredo and having taken him down on American clay in Houston in straight sets earlier this year he should be confident against this opponent.
Giraldo also crushed Robredo in their only hard court meeting at the Australian Open a few years ago and while these career meets aren’t that vital to Saturday’s match it can’t hurt Giraldo to have the knowledge that he can beat the favourite here.
The conditions are quite quick in Shenzhen and if Giraldo can rush Robredo like Seppi did for much of the quarter final he could get his rewards.
Over in Kuala Lumpur it’s tempting to back Julien Benneteau to beat Ernests Gulbis, with the Frenchman holding a 3-0 career series lead over the Latvian.
I would expect Gulbis to narrow that gap today though after finding his form against Benjamin Becker on Friday and although I’m on Benny outright it’s more in hope than expectation that I approach this match.
Benny was rather fortunate that Pablo Cuevas failed to hold himself together on Friday in their quarter final after the Frenchman had himself blinked when serving for a straight sets win in that one.
Benneteau will need to be at his best to win this and I’d like a bigger price than 2.75 before backing him on Saturday.
Kei Nishikori has been quietly impressive in Kuala Lumpur this week and he should get past Jarkko Nieminen in the 09:30 UK time start.
It’s the first meeting between the pair, but the Japanese should win it if he repeats the level he’s displayed so far.
Back Giraldo to beat Robredo at 2.67