Friday at the Mutua Madrid Open is quarter finals day, with Rafa Nadal, Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori all in action at the Caja Magica today.
Tomas Berdych is also in action today and it was the Czech who provided us with another ‘sure thing’ winner – the 21st such winner from the last 23 bets – when he defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets.
Simone Bolelli blew what were effectively two match points on his own serve to take the opening set of his match with Nadal past the set one overs mark, which took down my long shot double.
But there was better news later when Milos Raonic was largely untroubled by Leo Mayer in landing my value bet of -3.5 games on the Canadian to make it a profitable day’s tennis betting.
We start at around 14:30 UK time on Friday at the Caja Magica when the defending champion takes to the court.
Rafa Nadal vs Grigor Dimitrov
Let’s be honest, Nadal was atrocious for the first few games of the Bolelli match and a better player – or one with more belief – than the Italian would have put the Spaniard under real pressure in the opening set.
It now falls upon Dimitrov to try and take it to the Spaniard and he’s certainly capable of doing that, but he was slightly fortunate to grab the win over Stan Wawrinka yesterday when he was second best in most statistical departments.
Indeed, it’s not been the kind of season that the Bulgarian would have been hoping for so far, with this being only his second quarter final of 2015 and his performance in the first one in Monte-Carlo was really poor.
Against top-10 opposition Dimitrov has struggled of late, with that Wawrinka win and another in Monte-Carlo his first ones since beating Andy Murray at Wimbledon last year.
Dimitrov has the same problem as Roger Federer against Nadal, which is the one of the single-handed backhand against Nadal’s viciously spun lefty forehand, and the only one-handed righty to beat Nadal on clay since Federer in 2009 was Nico Almagro in Barcelona last year.
If Dimitrov finds his very best form he could make this a match, but it’s hard to see him getting over the line and the 1.19 on Nadal is today’s ‘sure thing’.
Tomas Berdych vs John Isner
On the face of it when thinking about this match-up between big-serving Isner and Berdych you would think about possible tie breaks and especially in these conditions, but that hasn’t been the case so far in this rivalry,
In the last 15 sets on clay and hard that they’ve played only one tie break has featured and on clay only one breaker in nine sets has been the outcome of a set.
Berdych has won six of their eight meetings and the last four in a row in straight sets and the omens look good for the Czech on that basis in this 16:00 UK time clash.
Indeed, Isner hasn’t broken Berdych in the last seven sets they’ve contested, and he’s not likely to do a better job than Tsonga managed in that regard yesterday, which was to break Berdych once.
In fairness to Isner there has been a bit of an improvement in his return game of late, but six of his seven matches on clay this swing have still featured at least one breaker.
Isner ripped a few back at Kyrgios on the backhand side on Thursday and Berdych’s team will no doubt have scribbled that down in their notebooks – or at least they should have done.
But I don’t see Isner improving enough to be able to win this one – or even make it that close against an in-form Berdych, who’s won pretty much all the big matches he should win this season.
Indeed, Berdych has won 27 of 29 as favourite in 2015 and six from six on clay, so underdogs have a tough time against this man these days, with David Ferrer and Stan Wawrinka the two slight dogs to have beaten him this campaign.
The -2.5 games at 1.60 looks decent here, but I like the under 94.5 minutes here at 1.84.
There won’t be many long rallies here and Isner’s three set win over Kyrgios that included a tie break only took 105 minutes and this should be over quicker.
Indeed, Berdych’s three straight sets win over Isner in slower clay conditions at the French Open took just 111 minutes last season, so under minutes looks decent, as does no tie breaks at 2.65 for a bigger-priced bet.
Sure thing: Back Nadal to beat Dimitrov at 1.19
Value bet: Back under 94.5 minutes in Berdych/Isner at 1.87