The quarter finals of the first two tournaments on the ATP World Tour Asian swing are all set for Friday in Kuala Lumpur and Shenzhen.
Jarkko Nieminen will be one of the last eight at the Malaysian Open after the fighting Finn didn’t face a single break point in landing my opening bet of Thursday with a straight sets win over Leo Mayer.
The luck turned later on though when instead of going long in set one Philipp Petzschner won set two on the tie break against Ernests Gulbis, which meant I had opted for the wrong bet to oppose Gulbis with there.
Play starts at 06:00 on Friday at the Shenzhen Open and it could be worth setting the alarm for the first match on the day there.
Tommy Robredo vs Andreas Seppi
I was happy to oppose Robredo in the first set of his match with Sam Groth the other day and that proved to be a decent choice, but the way that Tommy fought back in that match suggests he could be here for the long haul.
It would have been easy for the Spaniard to go away in straight sets and Groth almost achieved that result, but Robredo dug in and came away with the win as he often does when it becomes a battle.
He may not need to go the full distance this morning against Seppi, who is looking to reach his first semi final on the ATP World Tour since Moscow almost a year ago.
Robredo has won three of the last four meets with the Italian and on this season’s form there is only one winner of this one.
Neither player has an outstanding record in Asia – certainly in the last few seasons – but Seppi has won just one match in his last 18 against top-25 ranked opposition and if it comes down to a battle of wills Robredo would carry my money pretty much every time.
The minus 2.5 games at 1.78 appeals in this one on the Spaniard.
Elsewhere in Shenzhen Viktor Troicki looks a tad short at 1.60 to back up his excellent win over David Ferrer against Santi Giraldo, who can certainly strike if the Serb allows his level to drop.
Richard Gasquet should beat Juan Monaco, but again, the Frenchman isn’t great value at 1.28, while Andy Murray shouldn’t have too many problems getting past Lukas Lacko.
In Kuala Lumpur I still don’t really believe in Kei Nishikori in this tournament and although Marinko Matosevic has lost all four meetings with the US Open finalist he may never have a better chance than now to close the gap in the career series.
I’m not convinced that Kei will go all the way this week and the 5.20 on Matosevic could be worthy of consideration there.
Gulbis may also struggle against a German veteran again and Benjamin Becker, who beat Ernie in straight sets a few years ago at the Australian Open, could pose a problem or two for the Latvian.
The 2.75 about Becker winning set one is one for the shortlist there, with much depending on how each of them serves.
Nieminen should be too good for Pablo Andujar in these conditions, but Pablo Cuevas is in with a reasonable chance against two time KL finalist Julien Benneteau.
Cuevas saved eight match points against Ivan Dodig to get here and Benny will need to be at his best to progress here.
Back Robredo –2.5 games to beat Seppi at 1.78