Friday is quarter finals day at the Palais Omnisports, where the last eight players in contention at the BNP Paribas Masters will be in action.
And John Isner will be one of them after the big-serving American landed a very nice 4.0 winner for us on Thursday when he took the opening set from Roger Federer.
The big man went on to take the match too in a final set tie break, but our work was already done by that point.
Stan Wawrinka provided a win for the ‘sure thing’ wager later on against Viktor Troicki, but Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had knee problems and was unable to really be competitive enough to take a set against Tomas Berdych.
It’s another star-studded line-up at a Masters 1000 quarter final stage on Friday, with Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Rafa Nadal all involved in the shake-up.
Novak Djokovic vs Tomas Berdych
This 18:30 UK time clash sees the world number one face an opponent against whom he has enjoyed great success over the years, with 19 wins in 21 matches, and seven wins to zero on indoor hard.
The match-up is a poor one for Berdych, as Novak keeps him on the move from side to side and makes the Czech hit plenty of shots on the run, which isn’t a strength of Berdych.
The former Paris champion likes to stand and deliver with his heavy shots and generally Djokovic defends too well and redirects Berdych’s power too well, but the world number one will have to do a lot better than yesterday’s performance.
Djokovic was broken five times in 11 service games by Gilles Simon and won only 39 percent on his second serve in a peculiar match that involved a dozen breaks in 21 service games.
Berdych was very good for much of the match against Tsonga, but it is tough to really evaluate that one, with the Frenchman clearly struggling for fitness.
Djokovic usually starts very well against Berdych and the under 9.5 games has some appeal, but if you’re thinking of taking Djokovic on with Berdych then you’ve got to be looking at a ‘long shot’ wager.
The surface here in Bercy is so hideous that only the likes of Berdych can really penetrate it and at his best he has a set in him, which attracts me to the 4.30 about the 2-1 Djokovic win.
Indeed, the last two meetings between the pair have ended that way – on slow clay and on fast outdoor hard – and I think this is a decent big-priced pick for Friday.
Stanislas Wawrinka vs Rafael Nadal
This last quarter final of the day follows the Djokovic match and it’s a very tricky one to call, with it featuring two players, whose levels have varied wildly all season.
Wawrinka was hardly impressive in landing our ‘sure thing’ wager over Viktor Troicki last night on the school gymnasium Court 1, while Nadal should probably have lost in straight sets to a tired Kevin Anderson.
Nadal had to save a match point in the second set tie break after another poor start from him and there was talk of an ankle injury prior to the match, but he didn’t appear to be struggling in that regard against Anderson.
He did struggle with a slew of unforced errors and he was probably a little fortunate that Anderson had endured a very late night the previous night, having saved match points himself against Dominic Thiem.
A quick glance at their matches against each other in 2015 show how tough this one is to call, with Rafa winning on fast outdoor hard in Shanghai 6-2, 6-1 and Wawrinka taking the win on clay in Rome in straight sets.
Neither player has a great history at this tournament, with Wawrinka never having been past the last eight in Bercy and Nadal having made the final here only once – back in 2007.
Wawrinka is such a tough player to predict, with his on-court demeanour ranging from intense to can’t be bothered on a regular basis and he rolled over so tamely in Shanghai that it’s hard to see any real value in him at 2.48 today.
He said he was: “Just struggling a little bit,” after that Shanghai match and at this stage of the season I’m not convinced at all that he’ll be fit enough or motivated enough to represent a good value bet.
Nadal’s greater desire is likely to be key here and 1.52 about a 13-2 head-to-head series at this stage of the season actually might be decent value, given that he was a 1.24 chance when he lost to Wawrinka in Rome.
The court here does take Rafa’s top spin very well and the lack of pace in it should assist him against Stan’s heavy ground game. All told he looks the bet today.
Value bet: Back Nadal to beat Wawrinka at 1.52
Long shot: Back Djokovic to beat Berdych 2-1 at 4.30