The quarter finals of the last Masters 1000 tournament of the season are set for Friday in Paris at the BNP Paribas Masters.
Kei Nishikori will be there after the Japanese star landed my opening bet of Thursday with a tougher than it needed to be win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Nishikori probably should have done it in two, but took his chance when it came around again at the back end of set three in a woeful service game from the Frenchman.
Another Frenchman who flopped at the vital time yesterday was Gael Monfils, who played pretty much the match I described, but in typical Monfils style he faltered badly at the end of the match.
Playing some sublime stuff and only two points away from set two on a couple of occasions Monfils was unable to finish it off and was really poor in the ensuing tie break against Novak Djokovic.
The scenarios in the race to London are clearer today and the feature match tonight may involve two players, who, by the time they start at around 20:00 UK time, will probably have qualified.
David Ferrer vs Kei Nishikori
Ferrer simply needs Roger Federer to beat Milos Raonic in the 14:30 UK time match today to qualify for the London jamboree and with that prospect looking highly likely this match may see some changed prices.
If Raonic does beat Federer, Ferrer will have to beat Nishikori to qualify and for Kei he’s pretty much in regardless, but he’s definitely there with a win over Ferrer tonight.
So, much depends on Raonic/Federer, but in any case I’m always likely to side with Nishikori in this match up.
The US Open finalist has won both of their 2014 meetings and despite a long battle with Tsonga last night he’s been out of action for the previous three weeks, so he shouldn’t be compromised physically.
Ferrer has eased through the rounds here this week and did so again over Fernando Verdasco, who obligingly waved his compatriot through to the quarter finals with barely any resistance at all.
It will be much tougher for Ferrer today though, with Nishikori the better ball striker and the more capable of hitting winners on this slow court.
Ferrer will have to grind to the death to win this one – assuming that Kei is fit of course – and I don’t see it being enough even if the Spaniard does have energy left in his sixth straight week on tour.
Milos Raonic vs Roger Federer
I read on Twitter yesterday (courtesy of @StatsWTA) that Federer has held serve in 87 of his 88 service games against Raonic, which tells you most of what’s required to know about this match-up.
Raonic has been a little fortunate again here this week to edge past Jack Sock and Roberto Bautista Agut, with the latter choking badly in yesterday’s 5-7, 6-7 loss to the Canadian.
RBA served for set two and led 5-2 in the breaker before succumbing weakly and for me Raonic has been little more than average again this week – which at least is a step up from the tennis he inflicted on us in Basel.
Raonic is at a slight disadvantage today in that he’s been playing on Court 1 all week, while Federer has been on Centre, where reportedly it’s a little quicker, so it may take some time for the big man to adjust.
Federer has won all six priors against Raonic and the last 10 sets in a row, but they’ve never met on indoor hard, where Milos is usually at his best and he could stretch Federer to three here, as Ivo Karlovic did last week in Basel.
I don’t see Raonic being able to break Federer often enough to get the win he needs and it’s not an overly appealing betting heat, but the 2-1 to the Swiss at 3.35 looks the best choice.
Best Bet: Back Nishikori to beat Ferrer at 1.68