It’s semi final Saturday at the 2016 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters and with Novak Djokovic watching from down the road at his home opportunity knocks for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils.
It was Roger Federer that was involved in our win for the ‘value bet’ on Friday when the Swiss maestro was stunned by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Fed ended up tossing his racquet away after being broken for a third time in set two.
That was enough for the +1.5 sets on Tsonga, who ended up winning it in three, but we were a tad unlucky in the other match when Marcel Granollers had a 3-0 lead over Gael Monfils in set two.
Lamonf looked out on his feet (again) and a third set seemed likely, but Monfils, who loves nothing more than a bit of hamming it up, was able to win six of the next seven games with some help from a hapless Granollers.
So, it’s an all-French affair in the principality on Saturday at around 14:30 UK time, with a place in the final at stake.
Gael Monfils vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Not the semi final that we were all expecting at the start of the week, with no Djokovic in the last four of a Masters 1000 that he’s started for the first time since the 2014 Cincy Masters.
But the crowd here in Monaco would take that all day long – that’s assuming they’re in attendance courtside and not still finishing off a leisurely lunch in the restaurant above of course.
And it’s a bit of a tricky one to call purely because both men appeared in less than great health on Friday, with Tsonga popping pills against Federer, and Monfils leaning on his racquet like an elderly gardener would do with a spade against Granollers.
We’ve seen this time and again from Monfils though and let’s assume that both men are fit and ready to do battle and that being the case I’d have to side with Tsonga in what’s basically a pick ‘em match.
Monfils tends to struggle, mentally more than anything, against big, power players, with very often a beaten attitude in his head before he even walks onto court.
Again, this time Monfils says: “Jo has a game that I have trouble with. I was able to beat him once, but he was coming back from an injury. He gives me many problems. It’s always the case when I play against very aggressive players.”
He’s so obsessed with his inadequacies against this type of player that he’s forgotten one of his two wins against Tsonga in a six match career series.
He is right in the sense that when Monfils beat Tsonga last time they met (in Miami last season) the latter was coming back from injury, but Lamonf also beat Tsonga in Montpellier in 2010.
The pair have never met on a clay court and you’d think that the red dirt would be more suitable for Monfils – and it probably should be – but I can’t back him as favourite in a match that he clearly sees himself as an underdog in.
Powerful hitters with big serves, such as Tsonga (4-2), Milos Raonic (2-0 this season), Tomas Berdych (6-1) and even Daniel Brands (3-0) have good records against Monfils and Jerzy Janowicz has also won his last two against the Frenchman.
So, I’m not seeing much value in Monfils today, considering the match-up and his questionable physical condition, with Tsonga decent value for me as a 2.12 underdog.
Value bet: Back Tsonga to beat Monfils at 2.12