It’s semi final Saturday in Sweden, Colombia and Croatia on week 29 of the 2015 ATP World Tour.
The finalists will be decided today, weather permitting, at the Swedish Open, Croatia Open and Claro Open Colombia.
We managed to get two winners from three on Friday, with another win for ‘sure thing’ punters as Bernard Tomic was a comfortable victor over Tatsuma Ito, while Gael Monfils had a far tougher time, but still came out ahead against Philipp Kohlschreiber.
There was bad luck for those who backed Radek Stepanek, who headed into a second set tie break against Ivo Karlovic much the better player and needing to take it for the win – but then the Bogota rain came.
As is so often the case the delay helped one player and it was Karlovic, who improved markedly, held off a match point and went on to win in three sets.
Tommy Robredo vs Alexander Zverev
I said yesterday that I wouldn’t be trusting Thomaz Bellucci at a short price against Zverev and that turned out to be decent advice, with the young Austrian overcoming the Brazilian in three sets.
Robredo had no such problems in a convincing win over Paul-Henri Mathieu in what was a match-up that went all the way back to the French Open Junior final in 2000.
The last 15 years have been kinder to Robredo than Mathieu and it was a vintage performance from the Spaniard who has a fine record here in Bastad that is unlikely to be worsened by Zverev on Saturday.
We had a good winner with Zverev over Juan Monaco earlier in the week, but I expect his run to end here now that Tommy has found some of his best form of the season.
Robredo has won 10 of his last 11 matches on clay as a 1.30 to 1.40 favourite, with a loss here to Albert Ramos in 2013 the only one he has failed to win at that price since 2011.
I expect him to have too much experience for Zverev, who, apart from a win over Mikhail Youzhny (who was somehow ranked in the top-20 still last summer) in Hamburg last year, has failed to be competitive in five matches vs the top-25.
The weather forecast doesn’t look good for Bastad today, with rain expected all weekend there, so it could be a long couple of days for the players in Sweden.
If Pablo Cuevas and Benoit Paire do get onto the court, which seems questionable, the record of Cuevas against tall players – he’s lost his last six against opponents over 6’4” in height – would be a concern for me.
Ivo Karlovic vs Adrian Mannarino
Talking of players who struggle against the taller opponents that leads me nicely on to Mannarino, who lost his last eight against players of 6’4” in height or taller.
Karlovic has won two of his three against the Frenchman and beat him here in two tie breaks in 2013 in the quarter finals and Mannarino is the kind of character who gets frustrated against the big servers.
He has a poor 5-18 record on outdoor hard courts against the big servers on my list and he’s lost 15 of his last 18 on all surfaces versus such opposition.
In theory Mannarino should be able to score with his lefty forehand against Ivo’s weak backhand slice, but in these conditions at altitude in Bogota it’s getting a rally going that will be a problem for the Frenchman.
It has been proven that he generally doesn’t have the patience required against big servers and there’s value in the handicap on the veteran Croat in this 19:00 UK time start.
In his last 10 completed match losses on outdoor hard against the big servers in my database Mannarino has been beaten by four games or more eight times, so the -1.5 at 1.73 on Karlovic makes sense here.
As for ‘long shots’ today, there’s not a huge amount of choice, but I do like a double in Umag.
Roberto Bautista-Agut has a 4-0 career series lead over Joao Sousa and although those matches are from a long time ago it is an indicator as to how the Portuguese scrapper may struggle in this match-up.
Sousa will surely be the more fatigued of the two, having played 13 sets in a week and three tough ones in very hot conditions yesterday, while RBA has played only four in the same time frame.
RBA has had two easy matches in Umag so far and that may well be key against a player like Sousa, who relies so heavily on making balls and a high-energy defensive game.
He’s likely to tail off in this one and the -3.5 games on RBA at 1.80 and 1.82 about the overs in Gael Monfils vs Dominic Thiem would make a 3.28 double.
Played in the coolest part of the day I would expect a competitive encounter in a first career meeting between the Frenchman and the Austrian, with the latter being a little fortunate so far this week.
After playing Davis Cup for Austria (Monfils wasn’t selected for France on grass) Thiem was entitled to be tired, but his first two opponents here in Umag have retired against him.
The 2-1 to Monfils also appeals here at 4.0, but over 21.5 looks decent in what should be a really entertaining affair.
Sure thing: Back Robredo to beat Zverev at 1.39
Value bet: Back Karlovic -1.5 games to beat Mannarino at 1.73
Long shot: Back Bautista-Agut -3.5 games and over 21.5 games in Monfils/Thiem at 3.28