Friday is quarter-finals day in week eight’s three ATP World Tour events, with 12 matches on the card in Rio, Marseille and Delray Beach.
It was a perfect three from three for my best bets on Thursday with Pablo Cuevas doing more than enough to cover the handicap against a fatigued and somewhat short-tempered Fabio Fognini in Rio.
Michael Llodra then had to come from behind to win a tough clash with Andreas Seppi in straight sets in Marseille, while John Isner’s match with Dudi Sela went well past the overs mark and ended in a final set tie breaker.
Steve Johnson 2.50 vs Feliciano Lopez 1.50 – BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 19.35
I said on Wednesday that I wouldn’t be surprised to see Johnson raise his game against Tommy Haas, but I didn’t expect the American to come away with the best win of his career so far.
In truth it was a match that Haas had more than enough opportunities to have won, but the veteran failed to take them and it will be a confident Johnson that takes to the court on Friday against Lopez, who is far from the most secure of odds-on shots at the best of times.
The Spaniard rarely does things the easy way, but I expect him to have the edge in this clash even if it most probably will end up being a struggle for Feli in this 19.35 UK time encounter.
Johnson has only won one tour level match against lefties and that was against Donald Young, so whilst I’m not liking his chances of winning outright he has a set in him against an opponent for whom this will be his first quarter-final on outdoor hard in the USA since LA back in 2010.
The jackpot bet here would be the 2-1 Lopez at 3.55, while the more circumspect wager has to be the 1.50 about over 9.5 games in set one.
Lopez has gone 10 games or more in set one in eight of his last nine matches and with returning not being his strong point that’s hardly surprising.
Thomaz Bellucci 6.00 vs David Ferrer 1.13 – BET and STREAM live from 19.05 on Unibet TV
Another big priced wager that takes my fancy today is for the erratic Brazilian Bellucci to make a fast start against hot favourite Ferrer in their 19.05 UK time clash in Rio .
Playing in front of his home crowd, who will hopefully turn up to cheer him on, Thomaz is the kind of player who gets inspired by such situations and when he’s on form he can be virtually unplayable for spells.
He has been in the doldrums for some time now with injury and loss of form, but although he’s unlikely to win this match he is likely to come out and put on a show for the crowd, and if he’s on a good day he can take the opening set at 4.25.
Bellucci actually thrashed Ferrer in their most recent meeting, which was on the clay of Monte Carlo in 2012, and the situation and odds are pretty similar again today – except that Thomaz has even more motivation to do well.
Rhyne Williams 3.25 vs John Isner 1.32 – BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 01.35
Finally, back in Delray Beach at 01.35 UK time for European night owls it’s worth playing the overs again in what looks to be a 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 kind of match between two big serving types – if Isner is fit.
The giant American can consider himself pretty fortunate to be here at all after coming back from 5-2 down in the final set breaker against Dudi Sela last night, although you could argue that he shouldn’t have needed a breaker after leading 4-1 in that set in the first instance.
All in all it was a typical Isner display, but the concern tonight is over John’s fitness, with the trainer making an appearance in the Sela match for his knee.
Isner always seems to have something wrong with him though and he won Auckland playing 11 sets on a supposedly injured ankle, and in what is pretty much his home tournament these days I can’t see him quitting. He’s actually only retired four times in his entire career on the tour.
Williams continued the misery for the seemingly in decline Marcos Baghdatis last night and he has a serve that Isner will surely not break too often. Over 23.5 games looks good again here at 1.85.
Back over 9.5 games in set one of Lopez/Johnson at 1.50
Back Bellucci to win set one vs Ferrer at 4.25
Back over 23.5 games in Isner/Williams at 1.85