We’re into the quarter final stages of week two’s ATP 250 tournaments in Sydney and Auckland on Thursday, with eight matches on the card today.
It was a bit of a mixed bag on Wednesday, with a bit of bad luck for the long shot combined with a comfortable winner for one of my two value bets and a poor loss for the other.
James Duckworth led 4-1 in the opening set tie break against Jeremy Chardy (and was a break up in set two), but failed to see it out and indeed similar fates befell the other two outsiders I mentioned – Alexander Sarkissian and Pablo Cuevas – both of whom also lost opening set breakers to short-priced favourites.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga proved to be good value at 1.65 against Philipp Kohlschreiber, but Viktor Troicki served too well for odds-against shot Tommy Robredo on what was a very windy day at both venues.
Bernard Tomic vs Teimuraz Gabashvili
If you’re going to dip your toe into the murky waters of short-priced favourite backing this week it seems a sensible option to side with Tomic in this 07:00 UK time clash with Gabashvili.
Poor old Gaba has lost all 16 of the quarter finals he’s contested at tour level and he’s only won a set in one of the last half dozen, so he’s hardly a man for the business end of tournaments.
Tomic, on the other hand, has won all 15 of the matches at main level that he’s started as a 1.20 to 1.30 favourite it, so the bare stats look ominous for the Russian again in this Sydney quarter final.
Bernie has looked in good nick so far this week and in this first career clash with Gabashvili one would suspect that the Aussie will be too patient and tie the explosive Russian up in knots on occasion.
Gaba’s tendency to pull the trigger too early is likely to be his downfall here, unless he hits everything, which seems unlikely in a quarter final, and Tomic looks the most likely of the short ones not to let you down on Thursday.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Fabio Fognini
Another sub-1.50 chance that should pay dividends is Tsonga, who seemed in decent form (and fitness) in beating Kohlschreiber and he’s certainly serving well enough to cover a -3.5 game handicap against Fognini.
The Italian battled well to foil my long shot on Joao Sousa the other day and backed it up with an impressive performance in beating Thiemo De Bakker comfortably on Wednesday – all of which means he’s due a temperamental one.
The stats don’t make good reading for Fogna against the big servers on my list with a 2-12 record away from clay and in the final set of four of the last six of those matches he’s gone away very tamely either 6-1, 6-0 or 6-2.
Sousa broke the Fognini serve seven times on Tuesday, so I’m sure in these quick conditions Tsonga will be able to break the Italian two or three times (he created eight break opportunities against Kohlschreiber).
The last time that Tsonga faced Fognini on a hard court the Frenchman was a 1.20 chance and unless the moody Italian is feeling in one of his irrepressible frames of mind a reasonably comfortable win for Big Jo looks likely here.
Alternative wagers of a similar price on Thursday are the over 10.5 games in set one of Kevin Anderson vs Jack Sock and in Jeremy Chardy vs Gilles Muller, while over 22.5 games in what looks a tight clash between Grigor Dimitrov and Alexander Dolgopolov also appeals.
John Isner vs Roberto Bautista-Agut
As an outright backer of Isner this week I was pleased and a tad relieved to see him emerge relatively unscathed from the serving contest against Sam Querrey, but he has another tricky one today against RBA.
Isner has won 42 matches in total in best-of-three play in his career against the top-25 ranked players and over half of them took three sets, which looks the value again in this 03:00 UK time clash in Auckland.
The conditions at the ASB Tennis Centre are quick and Isner belted down 31 aces against Querrey, which free points total will probably help the American to nick this one, but it is unlikely to be easy.
Twice in the past, including once here in Auckland, Isner has found RBA a tough nut to crack, winning both matches in a final set, and the record of both players suggests that is a decent value call again at a price of 3.95.
Isner is more likely to win in three sets rather than two against top-25 opposition, while RBA has lost 10 of his last 13 matches against the big servers on my database.
The Spaniard can get overwhelmed by big servers and big personalities, as his record shows, and also those big in height, losing eight of his last 10 against players of 6’4” in height and taller.
Bautista-Agut’s weak serve puts him under constant pressure to hold against Isner et al and often we see him fold at the end of sets when faced with an ace machine over the net.
There’s a slight chance that Lukas Rosol could blitz David Ferrer in these conditions, but he so rarely hits the heights required to see off a quality opponent like Ferrer that I’d want a bigger price than the Czech is at 5.0.
Sure thing: Back Tomic to beat Gabashvili at 1.28
Value bet: Back Tsonga -3.5 games to beat Fognini at 1.86
Long shot: Back Isner to beat Bautista-Agut 2-1 at 3.95