The championship matches of week eight’s ATP World Tour matches are set for Sunday in Marseille, Rio and Delray Beach.
Saturday’s bets showed a profit again, as despite a poor start when Richard Gasquet was overpowered by Ernests Gulbis, the Jo-Wilfried Tsonga/Jan-Lennard Struff match wager was a winner in the set one overs, while my odds-against shot Alexandr Dolgopolov won in two against David Ferrer, not needing the set start.
Ernests Gulbis 1.92 vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 1.85
I was surprised at how Gulbis stepped up yesterday to dismiss Gasquet and it will be interesting to see if the unpredictable Latvian will back that up against another top-10 player at 13.00 UK time today.
The only time that Ernie has won two straight matches against top-10 players was when Tsonga retired against him at Wimbledon last year and Gulbis then beat Andy Murray almost two months later in Canada – so he’s never done it in one tournament.
He does have a decent chance today though, as Tsonga arguably shouldn’t be favourite based on a comparison of the two finalists’ performances so far this week, with Tsonga failing to impress, while Gulbis has shone at times.
The latter part of that sentence sums up Ernie’s career thus far though and even Jo said yesterday “this is an unusual guy who is capable of the best and the worst.”
You've never said a truer word, Jo and no one really knows how Gulbis will play today. What we do know is that he tends to start fast and Tsonga the opposite, so I like the 2.0 about the underdog taking the opening set against the defending champion.
Gulbis has won six of his last seven opening sets either 6-3 or 6-4, while Tsonga hasn’t won an opening set that didn’t involve a tie break on the tour since the first match of the season against Filippo Volandri. The over 10.5 games in set one also appeals here.
Rafael Nadal 1.14 s Alexandr Dolgopolov 5.35
It turned into an unexpected late night for Nadal watchers on Saturday, as Rafa just about came through after saving match points against Pablo Andujar in a match where he was second best for large parts.
Nadal was really poor by his best standards and it’s quite possible that he’s not fully fit, which makes this match against the tough to gauge Dolgo a bit of a minefield for punters.
The Ukrainian can be a very useful underdog to have on your side, as he showed yesterday against Ferrer, but he’s yet to get close to Rafa in a single set of the eight they’ve played in their career series so far, with four games being the most he’s ever managed in a set.
This isn’t peak Nadal though and if he repeats yesterday’s performance it could be a little tougher, although a lot of credit must go to Andujar too, as he really took it to Nadal, blitzing his second serve and creating 14 break point chances.
I’m not too sure that Dolgo has the kind of game to do that and his awkward style won’t hurt Rafa unless he’s much more aggressive than in previous matches.
If Alex serves well and takes the game to Nadal more than in the past he should land the game handicap of +5.5 games at 1.8, but it’s a sketchy betting heat with Rafa’s fitness an unknown quantity. He said he felt “empty” yesterday, so you can draw your own conclusions from that statement.
Marin Cilic vs Kevin Anderson
The Croatian has done superbly well to reach his third straight ATP World Tour final in as many weeks and he had another late night last night, as his semi-final against John Isner was delayed for a few hours by rain meaning that he would have not had the best night’s sleep.
Things were far easier for Anderson, who has a house in Delray Beach and finished a comfortable semi-final win over Steve Johnson early. He would have been tucked up in bed as early as he liked after a 75 minute straight sets win over the American.
A lot must rest on Marin’s fitness after three tough weeks on tour, during which time he has played 29 sets to Anderson’s eight and one game giving the South African a comfortable physical advantage one would think.
Cilic has been in the form of his life though and of those 29 sets only one has gone to a tie break (predictably against Isner) and only one of the 14 matches played has gone to three sets.
Anderson did beat Cilic in their last encounter, surprisingly on clay, but it means little the form that the Croat is in right now.
It’s another tricky one, given Marin’s huge amount of tennis and a late night, but Anderson can serve us past the over 22.5 games at 1.73 here.
Back Gulbis to win set one vs Tsonga at 2.0
Back over 22.5 games in Cilic vs Anderson at 1.73