Semi final Saturday in Kuala Lumpur and Shenzhen features Tomas Berdych, David Ferrer, Marin Cilic and Nick Kyrgios, as week 39 heads towards its conclusion.
Friday’s bets were rather unfortunate again, as a dismal start from Tommy Robredo foiled the handicap bet by a single game in the Spaniard’s win over Simone Bolelli.
A 1-6 opener did for Robredo, but he was one break point away from serving for the match at 5-3, so he was a fraction away from a remarkable recovery as far as the handicap was concerned, but he’ll be more than happy with his victory.
Grigor Dimitrov (and probably Franco Davin) won’t be happy about the level of performance from the Bulgarian in a loss to Benjamin Becker and again it was a few points away from looking good for my ‘long shot’ pick.
Dimitrov led the second set 5-2 and had numerous set points to take it to a decider, at which point the 2-1 win would have been the most likely outcome, but he blew the lot in a woeful showing.
‘Sure thing’ Tomas Berdych was a winner in straight sets against Jiri Vesely, but it was another frustrating day where we didn’t get the rewards we perhaps ought to have.
Tomas Berdych vs Tommy Robredo
This semi final draw was what put me off an outright wager on Robredo in Shenzhen, with the Spaniard having been put to the sword in style by Berdych in their recent meetings on quick hard courts.
Berdych has handed out a bagel to Robredo in each of their last three hard court matches in Cincinnati and Shanghai, where it’s quick, and the Czech will surely be on the front foot right from the start again in this 10:00 UK time start.
In Cincy a few months ago it was almost a double bagel to Berdych, who was a 6-0, 6-1 winner, and two years ago at the same venue it ended 6-3, 6-0, and in Shanghai in 2010 it was 6-0, 6-4 to the Berdman.
On outdoor hard courts in total Berdych has won five of their six meetings, with the one exception coming a decade ago in Dubai, and it’s certainly fast enough in Shenzhen for me to think that this could be another heavy defeat for Tommy.
Indeed, Bolelli sped out to that 6-1 start against Robredo on Friday, with his heavy hitting piercing the Spaniard’s defences, but he wasn’t able to keep his game at that level, where Berdych probably will.
Robredo benefitted from a drop off in level from a tired Bolelli, who in any case struggles with consistency, and I’d fancy at least one set to be one-sided enough for Berdych to cover the -4.5 game handicap here.
He’s covered that and then some in all bar one (the first one in 2004) of his hard court wins over Robredo and although he hasn’t hit the heights yet in this tournament this looks just the match-up for the Berdman to get going.
David Ferrer vs Benjamin Becker
The Spaniard has never been beyond the semi finals in four prior visits to the Malaysian Open, with losses to Andrey Golubev and Julien Benneteau in the two semis he’s made here in the past.
So, he’s perhaps not a total certainty to win this second career meeting with Becker based on that, but this time around he shouldn’t be fatigued after two months out injured over the summer.
And it’s hard to see how Becker can outmanoeuvre the Spaniard on this very slow indoor hard court if Ferrer is even close to his best form.
It’s hard to overstate just how dismal Dimitrov was against Becker. He was unrecognisable as the player who has beaten some of the best in the world and it’s not as if Becker was even made to play his own best tennis.
Ferrer and Becker haven’t met across the net since their only meeting at the US Open back in 2010, but the match-up looks favourable for the world number eight in these conditions.
Becker has a 3-9 record in ATP Tour semi finals, with two of his wins coming on grass, and the other was against Berdych on indoor hard in Bangkok back in 2007.
Ferrer has won six of his last nine semi finals and 14 of his last 15 matches as a 1.10 to 1.20 chance, with a defeat to Pablo Andujar on clay in Barcelona the exception.
I’d give Becker a chance on slick grass, but not on a slow court like this, and the double of Ferrer and Berdych pays 1.39 and is the ‘sure thing’ for Saturday, with the 1.54 about 2-0 to Ferrer the other option.
Nick Kyrgios vs Feliciano Lopez
My outright bet on Kyrgios is still going and as I said yesterday the Aussie had a decent chance of beating Karlovic, which he duly did in two tie breaks.
He now has a better than even money shot of making his second tour level final when he takes on Lopez, who got the better of Vasek Pospisil from a set down on Friday.
Lopez was a little fortunate that Pospisil’s highly questionable fitness had a part to play in the Canadian’s defeat, with cramping again a problem, but it was a decent showing from Lopez and certainly better than in his win over Mischa Zverev.
Indoor hard is far from the best of surfaces for Lopez, who has played half a dozen tournaments indoors since his last final, which was in Memphis in 2013, and the overs mark looks set too high here.
On grass or a quickish hard court it could easily be a couple of breakers between this pair of big servers, but Lopez has played only seven tie breaks in his last 42 sets on indoor hard on the tour.
Lopez beat Kyrgios on clay in Rome earlier this season in their only career meet, but I’ll be hoping for a reverse of that result on Saturday, however the value has to be on under 25.5 games.
Five of Lopez’s last six indoor matches and 14 of his last 20 have ended in fewer than that and the 1.87 about unders seems the pick here.
That can be doubled with Guillermo Garcia-Lopez to win a set against Cilic in the 12:00 UK time start in Shenzhen to make a 3.42 ‘long shot’ double.
GGL will be fresh after a day off yesterday, thanks to the withdrawal of Adrian Mannarino, and he could cause problems for Cilic, who has lost two of his three career meetings with the Spaniard.
I think it’s probably just a bit too quick for Garcia-Lopez here in Shenzhen, with his most recent win over Cilic coming on slow clay in Monte-Carlo this spring, but he can take a set.
I said yesterday that Hyeon Chung was up against it in what I thought was a short price against Cilic and so it proved, with Chung double faulting to lose set one and that inexperience was key in tough conditions.
Five of Cilic’s last six matches as a 1.30 to 1.40 favourite have gone to a decider and if GGL serves well this could be a tricky test for the former US Open champion.
Sure thing: Back Ferrer and Berdych in a double at 1.39
Value bet: Back Berdych -4.5 games to beat Robredo at 1.86
Long shot: Back under 25.5 games in Kyrgios/Lopez and Garcia-Lopez +1.5 sets at 3.42