The quarter finals of the 2015 Western & Southern Open are set for Friday in Mason, Ohio, with plenty of star quality in action today.
Looking back at Thursday, we kicked off with a typically bizarre encounter between Alexandr Dolgopolov and Jerzy Janowicz that at one point was 6-3, 0-5, and totally unfathomable.
That one saw my unders pick fail, as Dolgo did win, but not until after a set of semi-tanking/messing about that has become one of his hallmarks.
But it got much better later when my ‘long shot’ Feliciano Lopez took down Rafael Nadal in three sets and ‘sure thing’ Andy Murray dug himself out of a huge hole to come back and beat Grigor Dimitrov, so it was a profitable day overall.
It should be an almost perfect day for tennis today in Cincy, with temperatures in the mid-20s and very little wind and looking back at last year’s quarter finals we saw two underdog winners and two favourites successful from the four matches.
Julien Benneteau (remember him?) beat Stan Wawrinka at 3.73 in a match I recall only too well, while Roger Federer was underdog against Murray.
Tomas Berdych vs Alexandr Dolgopolov
The Czech was at his bludgeoning best yesterday in Cincy, as he dismantled poor old Tommy Robredo for the loss of only one game in a match that was as one-sided as the score suggests.
It’s a good match-up for Berdych on a fast hard court, with his heavy hits proving too much for the court craft of Robredo in these conditions and on that form he’ll be too good for Dolgo too.
Berdych will approach this 17:30 UK time start with a similar approach and look to hit through the Ukrainian and keep him on the back foot, preventing Dolgo from pulling the strings with his variety.
Dolgopolov has had no success against Berdych in the past, with four losses from four ¬– three of them at the Rogers Cup – and the Czech comes into this fifth meeting with Dolgo in great shape.
The Berdman has played only six sets since Wimbledon on July 6 and only one of those went past 6-3, so he should be in prime fitness, while Dolgo has slugged his way through 31 sets since Wimbledon.
You never quite know what to expect with Dolgo (see above) so I’d be hesitant about siding with an easy win for Berdych today, but the lack of wind will help the Czech and he should be able to tee off in these conditions.
He certainly seems to me the best of the short-prices today and the most likely candidate for the role of the ‘sure thing’ on Friday, with Roger Federer too short in price.
Berdych has won all nine as a 1.20 to 1.30 favourite in the 12 months since he lost to Yen-Hsun Lu in his first match here in Cincy in 2014 and in all he’s 16-3 on outdoor hard at that price in the last three years.
Novak Djokovic vs Stanislas Wawrinka
I went with Benoit Paire to take a set from a below par Djokovic in round two and he messed it up allowing David Goffin to assume the role of the valiant underdog loser yesterday.
The Belgian managed to choke away a 3-0 double break lead and make it look easy, as a clearly less than fit Djokovic reeled off the next six games to edge his way through to the last eight in a thoroughly unconvincing performance.
Djokovic looked at least a step or two slower than normal last night and he’s been talking again about his ‘arm injury’ that he says is hampering him during the second serve.
During the second set last night Djokovic won only 27 percent of his second serves when Goffin attacked the Serb and given that today’s opponent Wawrinka can do that more effectively than the Belgian our world number one could be in trouble today.
Wawrinka, to his credit, seems to have overcome the Nick Kyrgios shambles for the time being and he toughed it out against Ivo Karlovic in three tie breaks last night to the Swiss’ obvious delight.
Stan wasn’t at his best either, but we at least know that he can beat Djokovic on quick outdoor hard and the Serb himself, having never won this title, admits that these Cincy conditions are tough for him.
In these circumstances it’s impossible to back Djokovic at 1.28 and I’m happy to side with Wawrinka as a lively ‘long shot’ today at around 3.55.
Sure thing: Back Berdych to beat Dolgopolov at 1.29
Long shot: Back Wawrinka to beat Djokovic at 3.55