The last 16 men in contention for a tour level title this week will be whittled down to eight on Friday in Barcelona and Bucharest.
It certainly wasn’t the best of betting days on Thursday, as neither Fernando Verdasco or Mikhail Youzhny turned up, and only my other fancy of Marin Cilic prevented a washout.
The Croat even did things the hard way, after blowing set points for a 2-0 win, and eventually he edged through in a final set breaker over Tommy Robredo.
In Bucharest the rain made conditions heavy and difficult for some players and it’s forecast to continue in that vein, so it’s worth siding with the defending champion today.
Lukas Rosol 1.75 vs Gilles Simon 2.02 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 12.05
Rosol surged to the title in Bucharest last year on a wave of emotion following the death of his father and he also had the heavy conditions to thank for setting him up with the perfect playing situation for his game.
The slow surface can only really be penetrated by those with a big game or else it becomes a real grind and Rosol is one of those who can hit right through this court.
The lack of pace probably did for Youzhny yesterday against Haase, who can also hit big, and this quarter-final today is a repeat of last year’s Bucharest final when Rosol was a comfortable winner over Simon.
The Czech has begun his title defence where he left off last year, with bludgeoning wins over Pippo Volandri and Jarkko Nieminen and as he really knows only one way to play he’ll stand or fall depending on the accuracy of those powerful ground strokes and serve again today.
If he’s on form – and he has been so far – he could brush Simon aside and the 2-0 holds some appeal for bigger priced punters at around 2.65 (in from 3.10), but should be get drawn into a grind then the Simon 2-1 win looks decent at around 4.70.
A dutch of those two bets could well pay off, with the Frenchman unlikely to win this 2-0 unless Rosol has a nightmare day where he can’t find the court.
Gillou hasn’t been in great form for a while now and Teimuraz Gabashvili blasted him off court in Monte-Carlo last week. A similar result from a similar sort of player is my pick today.
Perhaps the best value today could be Sergiy Stakhovsky again, after I labelled him as such ahead of his 3.30 win over Carlos Berlocq earlier in the week, and 4.75 isn’t the worst bet, with Grigor Dimitrov not yet strong enough to warrant a quote like 1.18 in a match like this.
Stako beat Dimitrov easily in their only prior career meeting and although clay isn’t his best surface the Bulgarian is yet to make a tour level final on it either. This could be a banana skin if Grigor isn’t at his best, as could Paulo Mathieu be for Gael Monfils if Lamonf is on one of his clowning around days.
At the Real Club de Tenis de Barcelona it would appear that Philipp Kohlschreiber has a great chance to make the semis over Santiago Giraldo, who had the trainer out in a remarkable comeback win over young prospect Dominic Thiem yesterday.
From 5-3 and 40-0 up Thiem choked and Giraldo may not be in the best of shape today, while Cilic may also be a tad lethargic after his two-and-three-quarter hour marathon against Robredo.
Kei Nishikori comes into today’s match with Cilic as favourite after a light run out yesterday over Andrey Golubev, who I thought might put up more of a fight, but Cilic will surely test the Japanese and the overs looks good in that one at 1.98 for more than 22.5 games.
Rafa Nadal hasn’t been looking anywhere near his best so far in this clay swing, but would you trust Almagro to take advantage after losing all 10 of their meetings going back almost a decade?
David Ferrer managed to do a very similar thing in Monte-Carlo, but he does possess a little more determination and a better temperament than poor old Nico and I’m not sure I’m tempted even by the 6.35 on Almagro.
Conditions, if they are overcast, will favour Almagro – or more correctly not favour Rafa – but I’ve seen nothing from Nico this season to suggest he’s anywhere near up to this task mentally.
Ernests Gulbis taking on Gabashvili could be hugely entertaining and perhaps valuable to any prospective psychiatrists watching who fancy doing a thesis, as there will be some antics guaranteed in that one.
Gaba has a very good record against Ernie, but it goes back many years and it’s hardly a match to have a bet on – unless it’s on who issues the first demented roar.
Back Rosol to beat Simon 2-0 at 2.65