The quarter finals of the 2014 Shanghai Rolex Masters are all set for Friday in this Masters 1000 tournament at the Qi Zhong Tennis Centre.
Julien Benneteau will be there after a fine serving performance from the Frenchman was the solid base from which he built his win over Jack Sock on Thursday that foiled my bet of the day.
Benny produced an incredible 81 percent of first serves in play against the American, who was unable to take his chances when they came and Benneteau was a deserved winner.
Tomas Berdych vs Gilles Simon
Play gets underway at 06:00 UK time on Friday, with the ninth career meeting between the Czech and the Frenchman.
And this is one that Berdych should win, with his power game fitting these fast courts in Shanghai really well and Simon will have to work very hard if he wants to progress here.
That may be beyond the Frenchman, who isn’t in the best physical condition and Gillou admitted after his comfortable win over Malek Jaziri on Thursday that he is struggling with an abdominal problem.
Simon went on to say that his lower back is also an issue and his serving is affected, as is the backhand.
How much of that is really the case is up for debate I suppose, but even a fully fit Simon would struggle in these conditions against the Czech, who has been excellent in the last fortnight, save for a drubbing from a peak Novak Djokovic in Beijing.
The Berdman had always struggled with Ivo Karlovic in the past, but he breezed through in straight sets against the Croat on Thursday and he should be in confident mood to take on Simon.
In their last meeting on indoor hard in Bangkok a year ago Berdych broke Simon six times and if Gillou’s serve is at all affected by this injury it could be a comfortable day for the Czech.
The minus 3.5 games at 1.86 looks like a good choice in this one.
Novak Djokovic vs David Ferrer
I said ahead of Thursday’s play that Mikhail Kukushkin had been playing well and that the Kazakh could cover the +6.5 game handicap against Novak Djokovic and so it proved.
Kukushkin played superbly well and wasn’t far off the win against the world number one, who faces David Ferrer at 11:30 UK time on Friday.
This one should go the way of Djokovic of course, given his excellent record on hard courts against the Spaniard, but Ferrer seemed to find his form in a fine comeback win over Andy Murray on Thursday and I doubt he’ll be a pushover.
I didn’t give Ferrer much of a chance of making the World Tour Finals and it’ll still be difficult for him, but that win over Murray may just have sparked his late season into life after a poor summer.
I like the idea of siding with Ferrer +5.5 games in this one, but it’s a little short at 1.64.
Back Berdych –3.5 games to beat Simon at 1.86