Friday at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Centre in Washington DC is quarter finals day in the ATP 500 Citi Open.
We didn’t get a huge amount of fortune going our way on Thursday, with Alexandr Dolgopolov wasteful against Sam Querrey, but Gael Monfils was a winner for the ‘sure thing’ when he defeated Borna Coric in straight sets.
One of the two +1.5 set picks won when Malek Jaziri again troubled Alexander Zverev, but Ryan Harrison found Stevie Johnson in fine form and wasn’t able to quite do enough on return.
It’s getting hotter in DC and it should hit 35C in the shade on Friday, so conditions that were already quick are getting faster and it’s a fair day to be having a few tie break bets today by the looks of the match-ups.
John Isner vs Steve Johnson
I was expecting a Davis Cup hangover from Isner this week, but he’s served his way through it so far and now faces pal Johnson for a place in another Washington DC semi final.
Johnson has been very unlucky against Isner here in DC in the past, twice losing to his compatriot in final set tie breaks at the Citi Open, but this feels like his opportunity for a bit of revenge.
Their head-to-head series (which Isner leads 4-1) shows us that against Johnson Isner holds his serve 94.4 percent of the time, while Johnson holds his own deal against Isner 93.1 percent of the time.
It’s a more confident Johnson this year than when they met here a year ago and after a poor start to the season Stevie is seemingly on a bit of a roll right now and looks decent value here as a 2.55 underdog.
The over 0.5 tie breaks at 1.35 looks a ‘sure thing’, with all of their hard courts clashes involving at least one tie break in the past and on the stats I mentioned earlier it seems highly likely that we’ll see at least one again tonight.
Isner's record in deciding set tie breaks since beating Johnson here last year in one reads a surprising 1-7, which leads to doubts about his formerly clutch tie break ability and with possible accumulated fatigue from Davis Cup to consider too Stevie seems to have his chances today.
The 2-1 to Johnson could well be one for ‘long shot’ punters too, with so little to choose between them and 5.10 about that outcome is one to consider too.
Paul-Henri Mathieu vs Albert Ramos
Before we head to DC there are a couple of potential value wagers in Gstaad and Umag, with Mathieu and Gastao Elias lively-looking underdogs on the clay today.
PHM was my 34.0 outright pick in Gstaad and he brings a 3-0 head-to-head (all within the last nine months) into his clash with Albert Ramos, who had a long week last week and is yet to convince at altitude.
Elias played some fine attacking tennis to beat Pablo Cuevas in Umag on Thursday and has already walloped Guillermo Garcia-Lopez this week. He seems big against hardly an unbeatable opponent in Pablo Carreno Busta today.
PHM’s performance today (along with Joao Sousa’s against Andrej Martin in Umag) will make or break my week, but the Frenchman looks in good form and has good memories from Gstaad as a former winner here.
The forecast looks dodgy there today with a lot of rain about, but PHM should be confident, having beaten Ramos so often and all very recently and 2.60 looks very good value.
Ivo Karlovic vs Jack Sock
The big Croat has held serve against Sock 94.8 percent of the time on hard, indoor hard and grass against Sock and has beaten the American on all of those surfaces in a 3-1 career series so far.
Sock’s only success came on clay and the way that Karlovic is serving at the moment plus the likely heat at 13:00 local time could well combine to see the favourite beaten here.
I’ve never had much time for Sock and certainly not in terms of his fitness and stamina in extreme heat, so there are plenty of reasons to back against him today.
If we add the Davis Cup exertions into the mix as well I see no reason why Karlovic can’t record a similar result here to the one he managed last night against Bernard Tomic.
Karlovic won 94 percent of his first serve points against Tomic, while firing down 21 aces and not facing a break point, so he’s dialled in on serve right now and full of confidence after winning Newport.
The heat could be an issue for Ivo as well, but there’s a good chance that Sock will fade away if loses a tight opener to Karlovic in these conditions, and the 2-0 to the underdog at 4.20 appeals here as a ‘long shot’.
Elsewhere, Gael Monfils and Sam Querrey have only met on one prior occasion, which was on clay almost a decade ago, but Monfils should come through here, given how well he’s been serving this week so far.
There may be some value on Benoit Paire in the last match of the day against Alexander Zverev, with their hard court stats over the last year working out to be very similar.
Paire holds 78.9 percent of the time and breaks 20.7 percent of the time, while Zverev’s stats are 80 percent holds and 19.6 percent breaks, so the German again looks a tad short in the betting.
It is Paire though, so anything is possible.
Sure thing: Back over 0.5 tie breaks in Isner/Johnson at 1.35
Value bet: Back Mathieu to beat Ramos at 2.60
Value bet: Back Johnson to beat Isner at 2.55
Long shot: Back Karlovic to beat Sock 2-0 at 4.20