It’s last-16 day at the Foro Italico in Rome at the 2014 Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
And I think that punters and players alike will be hoping for better weather after the wind affected even the very best on Wednesday.
It comes to something when Roger Federer – one of the most celebrated wind players around – fails to cover a handicap after winning an opening set 6-1, but that’s what happened yesterday.
Jeremy Chardy was a 25.0 shot after the opening set, but he took advantage of some shocking unforced errors from the Swiss, who would be expected to be far more effective in the wind than someone like Chardy, and took the match in a final set breaker.
It didn’t get much better when Rafa Nadal struggled painfully against an inspired Gilles Simon – a man who’s spent pretty much all of his career pushing the ball back like a male Caro Wozniacki – before limping over the line after the longest three setter of the season. You have to wonder why Gillou chooses to play like that maybe once every two years.
The wind has dropped in Rome now and conditions look set to be reasonable with a small chance of rain, so we shouldn’t have to concern ourselves with that extra added factor of the weather today.
We start at 11.00 UK time today, with a match that could well threaten Simon and Nadal’s longest match record.
Milos Raonic 1.90 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 1.85
These two played out an absolute stinker of a three setter at the Olympics a couple of summers ago that ended 25-23 in the decider to Tsonga, then followed that up with another tight one at Indian Wells last spring.
Neither of them are the best at breaking serve, to put it kindly, and Tsonga showed that yet again yesterday when becoming embroiled in breakless 7-6, 7-6 win over Kevin Anderson.
Raonic has never found conditions here in Rome to his liking and he was fortunate to get past Simone Bolelli in two sets in his first ever match win at the Foro Italico a couple of days ago.
The Canadian didn’t break Bolelli’s serve that day either and at least one or maybe two breakers looks highly likely here, with two impressive servers and poor returners facing off.
Tsonga has shown better mood in Rome than he has for a while and he would be my pick for an outright winner of this match, but the over 24.5 games looks the one here at 1.83.
Novak Djokovic 1.10 Phillip Kohlschreiber 7.00
The German looked to be back to his best form following a spell of injury in recent weeks when he beat Tommy Robredo quite convincingly on Tuesday and he has it in him to push Novak today in the night match.
Admittedly, Robredo looks to be on the slide quite quickly, but Kohlschreiber was hitting his single-handed backhand very well indeed and if he can do that again he can make Djokovic work hard for the win.
Many will remember Kohlschreiber’s straight sets win over the Serb in the French Open back in 2009, but he also took a set from Novak at the same tournament last year and at Indian Wells in 2010.
Indeed, the only time he has failed to take at least a set from Djokovic was their very first meeting back in 2008 and with the world number two inching his way back after a wrist problem he looks a little on the short side today.
Radek Stepanek should have made Nole work much harder than he did in their first round encounter here and if Kohlschreiber gets that backhand firing he can cover the games handicap and possibly the set handicap, while the 2-1 Djokovic win at 4.30 is tempting also.
Elsewhere, Nadal faces Mikhail Youzhny, who he has struggled with at times in the past, but that was a long time ago and the Russian has showed very little good form of late.
Stan Wawrinka taking on Tommy Haas might well be the most entertaining match in terms of pure winners and surprisingly it’s only their second ever career meeting and first since way back in 2006.
The Swiss should come through this one, but Tommy could nick a set quite conceivably.
Back over 24.5 total games in Raonic/Tsonga at 1.84
Back Djokovic to beat Kohlschreiber 2-1 at 4.30
Bet on WTA Tennis now.