Week 38 on the ATP World Tour 2015 reaches its conclusion on Sunday, with titles up for grabs at the Moselle Open and St Petersburg Open.
As I suggested yesterday it will be an all-French affair in Metz and a repeat of the 2013 final between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon, while in St Petersburg Milos Raonic faces Joao Sousa.
Raonic landed the ‘sure thing’ wager yesterday, with a reasonably comfortable two set success over Roberto Bautista-Agut, but Dominic Thiem had a poor day and was beaten by a decent display from Sousa.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Gilles Simon
Saturday’s matches in Metz went as I expected, with Tsonga serving his way past Philipp Kohlscheiber and Simon frustrating Martin Klizan into errors and both Frenchman eased through to the final in straight sets.
Tsonga was exceptional on serve against the German, with 13 aces in 10 service games and an impressive 92 percent of points won on his first serve, which ensured that he didn’t f ace a break point.
In all Tsonga hit 32 winners to only two unforced errors and that was more than enough to defeat Kohlschreiber in one of his best performances in recent memory.
Simon, as you would expect, did it in a roundabout sort of way, having to come from a break down in both sets against Klizan and it was a typical Simon performance of 18 winners and 20 unforced errors to Klizan’s 29 and 37.
The Klizan racquet bag is looking rather lighter now than at the start of the week, with the fiery Slovak having smashed them up against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Simon and now we have the 11th career clash between Tsonga and Simon.
Tsonga leads 6-4, but it was Simon who won in the 2013 final comfortably and much will depend on whether Tsonga can repeat the sort of serving we saw from him yesterday.
Each player had five break point chances in that 2013, but Simon converted on four to Tsonga’s one and handled the Tsonga serve really well that day to land the title.
This classic big servers versus good returner match-up rarely yields tie breaks – only one in their last 10 sets against each other – and on indoor hard in total there’s been only one in nine sets.
That makes the 1.75 about under 0.5 tie breaks a decent option here and six of their last seven matches have ended in straight sets, which makes the under 22.5 games at 1.89 attractive too.
Four of their last six opening sets on hard and indoor hard have ended in fewer than 9.5 games, which brings in the under 9.5 in set one at 2.23, and all of these are more tempting than Tsonga at 1.53.
Jo has a 3-3 record on indoor hard as a 1.50 to 1.60 favourite, while Simon is 3-2 as a 2.40 to 2.60 underdog on this surface.
I’d probably want a bigger price on Simon, who was a 3.19 chance when he won this in 2013 and the under 22.5 is my pick here.
Milos Raonic vs Joao Sousa
Annoyingly, Sousa was one of a handful of big-priced outrights that I picked out at the start of the week, but I ended up going with Mikhail Kukushkin in that half of the draw.
But it’s Sousa who has come through, despite his Davis Cup duty – which was substantial – and the Portuguese seems to have exceptional energy levels based on his performance against Thiem yesterday that showed zero signs of fatigue.
It’s another tough task for him today though against a Raonic that is returning to form and fitness after a long spell struggling with various injuries and it’s hard to see the Canadian not winning this one.
The pair have met on two prior occasions – both on clay – one of which was in Sousa’s home tournament in Estoril – and both meetings ended in 2-0 wins for Raonic, the most recent coming in Monte-Carlo this spring.
Against the big servers in my database Sousa has a 4-14 record overall and 0-2 on indoor hard, although he did beat Sam Groth on grass in Nottingham this summer.
But generally it’s been tough for him, with three of those four wins coming on clay, and someone like Raonic puts incredible pressure on Sousa to hold his very breakable serve in these conditions.
It’s not the quickest in St Petersburg as a look at the winners to unforced errors ration shows, with Raonic ending yesterday’s win over Bautista-Agut with nine winners and 26 unforced errors.
Indeed, Sousa only hit six winners to 39 unforced errors against Thiem, who himself recorded 9/39, which shows that Raonic’s advantage on serve (he hit 19 aces yesterday) is likely to be the deciding factor here.
It’s slow enough here for Milos to move around his backhand to wallop forehands and Sousa will need to redline his game and try and force errors to have any success today.
Sousa didn’t create a single break point against Raonic in Monte-Carlo and this one will likely go the same way as the RBA match on Saturday.
I can’t see past a 2-0 win for Raonic here and at 1.54 that looks the ‘sure thing’ for Sunday.
Raonic has six ATP World Tour titles and only once has he been taken to three sets in winning and that was by Janko Tipsarevic in Chennai back in 2012 on outdoor hard.
Sure thing: Back Raonic to beat Sousa 2-0 at 1.54
Value bet: Back under 22.5 games in Tsonga/Simon at 1.89