Friday on Week 30 of the 2014 ATP World Tour is quarter-finals day with action on clay and hard courts in Gstaad, Umag and Atlanta on offer today.
It’s proved a typically tricky week in this stopgap period ahead of the North American hard court swing and the results showed that again on Thursday.
Robin Haase had a mid-match lull thanks to some overly passive play to drop set two and turn his clash with Henri Laaksonen into a grind, while Andrey Golubev showed exactly why I kept stakes small in an error-ridden display against Viktor Troicki.
Over in Umag there was an easy win for Pablo Cuevas over Andreas Seppi, while Borna Coric did indeed beat Horacio Zeballos and the money was right again in a Teimuraz Gabashvili match, as the Russian defeated Joao Sousa.
In Atlanta there was good news as my best bet there was a winner when John Isner couldn’t resist going the full distance against Robby Ginepri to keep his Atlanta sequence going and bring the overs home by a wide margin.
The first bet I’ll take on today starts at around 14:00 UK time in Gstaad.
Pablo Andujar vs Marcel Granollers
This pair of Spanish battlers are meeting for the ninth time in their careers on Friday, with the score tied at 4-4 in their series, but in these conditions I would favour Granollers to come out on top.
Marcel generally goes well at altitude with a 2011 title here and one last year in Kitzbuhel, so he has the pedigree in quicker conditions, while Pablo’s record on anything other than slow to medium clay is exceptionally poor.
Granollers will be looking for a little bit of revenge here after a drubbing from Andujar on the clay of Buenos Aires last time they met, but Pablo was in much better form then than he is now and he would go on to almost beat Rafa Nadal the week following Buenos Aires in Rio.
Since then Andujar has struggled and he hadn’t made it past the second round of any event post-Rio until last week in Hamburg, where he was taken apart by David Ferrer in the quarters.
Indeed, Andujar’s win over Gilles Simon here in Gstaad, was his first over a top-50 opponent since beating Edouard Roger-Vasselin in Monte-Carlo, and was due to a bizarre injury to Simon, who injured himself in his hotel room the previous day, and had to retire.
Following that, Pablo wasn’t tested at all by the limited Blaz Rola, while Granollers had an easy passage of his own in round two by beating the equally outclassed Yann Marti.
The heavier serve, better movement and superb net skills of Granollers should be the difference between this pair in these conditions at altitude and 1.88 seems a decent enough price in this one.
Elsewhere in Gstaad Mikhail Youzhny’s superb record over Haase is likely to continue, although the Russian has been in poor form this season and he’s too short at 1.33 for my liking today.
In Umag, Cuevas should beat Gabashvili, but the Uruguayan is also too short at 1.38, while Tommy Robredo should see off Pablo Carreno Busta, but Tommy is also not priced in my interest zone.
Lukas Rosol vs Marin Cilic - Live on Unibet TV
The Croatian looks again to be priced up too short in this 16:30 UK time start in Umag and this is due to him playing at home and holding a pretty comfortable 3-0 head-to-head over the Czech.
But, similarly to the Igor Sijsling match the other day, he’s never met this opponent on clay where Marin isn’t as good and one could certainly argue that Rosol has had many of his best results on clay – including his only career title.
Rosol is in better form and a better frame of mind than Sijsling, having won nine of 11 matches on the clay since Wimbledon and Cilic will have to be at his best today to cover a 4.5 game start.
In that post-Wimbledon run Rosol has claimed the scalps of players such as Robredo, Youzhny, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Feli Lopez and teen star Alexander Zverev, so the form is there.
If Lukas serves well he will surely cover the 4.5 game start on the handicap and that looks decent at 1.80.
Tonight’s card in stormy, sweltering Atlanta sees Isner take on Marinko Matosevic in another potentially long clash in a tournament of otherwise short matches.
The two set mark this week in Atlanta stands at 17 out of 20 currently, but Isner may well buck that trend again versus an opponent that he just edged 7-6, 6-7, 7-5 on quick clay in Madrid a few months ago.
Thiemo De Bakker has played well this week despite his ‘neck injury’ that saw him retire in the qualies with a lucky loser spot assured and he took down Kevin Anderson in straights last night.
The Dutchman on that form has a realistic chance of beating Benjamin Becker as underdog today, while Jack Sock looks plenty short enough against the talented but underachieving Lukas Lacko.
The Slovak is not one to trust and neither is Dudi Sela, whose results are simply unfathomable.
Sela easily beat Sam Querrey last time out, but was beaten on grass by the likes of Martin Fischer, James Duckworth and Mikhail Kukushkin recently, so who knows which version of the Israeli will show up on any given day?
Back Granollers to beat Andujar at 1.88
Back Rosol +4.5 games to beat Cilic at 1.80