The quarter finals of the ATP 500 Citi Open in Washington DC are set for Friday in America’s capital.
Last year’s US Open finalists Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic are both in action today and it was Cilic who landed our ‘sure thing’ bet of Thursday with a victory over Sam Querrey.
But it was Steve Johnson who was the star of the show, as my ‘long shot’ defeated Grigor Dimitrov to land the 2.85 punt and the night was topped off by ‘value bet’ Sam Groth beating Feli Lopez as a 2.40 underdog.
We start earlier at 18:00 UK time (13:00 local) in DC on Friday and Nishikori is in action first.
Sam Groth vs Kei Nishikori
This is a first meeting between the big-serving Aussie and the US Open finalist and although Nishikori should win it his price of 1.15 seems altogether too short given the conditions.
Groth has been serving really well and DC clearly suits his playing style, as straight sets wins over Viktor Troicki and Feli Lopez indicate.
And with Nishikori facing the service bombs of Groth for the first time in today’s match I’d be surprised if the Japanese star was able to win the opening set in nine games or fewer.
Nishikori has lost three of his last four against the big servers on my list and in nine matches against them this season he’s only won the opening set in under 9.5 games once.
Indeed, he’s lost the opening set in four of those matches and rather than back the skinny 1.15 on Nishikori to win this match the 1.60 about over 9.5 games does offer decent value.
This week in Washington his opening sets have been a 6-7 loss to James Duckworth and a 6-4 success over Leo Mayer and the way that Groth has been performing in DC I’m happy to back this one to go over nine games.
John Isner vs Ricardas Berankis
Berankis has been playing well lately and this streaky, confidence player will no doubt begin this second meeting with Isner in as many weeks with a positive attitude.
How long that will last is questionable though and after losing a tight opener to Isner in Atlanta he lost the second set and the match 6-4, which is probably what will happen tonight in this midnight UK time clash.
Conditions here in Washington DC suit Isner almost as much as Atlanta, where he also gets the benefit of being the crowd’s favourite, and having lost eight of his last 11 against my big servers Berankis is likely to struggle again.
Isner has lost only one of his 14 matches played in the USA on an outdoor hard court as a 1.20 to 1.30 favourite and that was back in 2011 at Delray Beach to Teimuraz Gabashvili.
That makes 12 in a row for Isner at home at that price in these conditions and it should be 13 tonight with Isner a ‘sure thing’ at 1.25.
Marin Cilic is the other option at around the same price against Alexander Zverev and the young German, who is a surprise quarter finalist, should see his run end at the hands of the US Open champion.
Jack Sock vs Steve Johnson
We’ve won the last two nights with Johnson, but I’m going against him here to some degree in what isn’t an easy one to call against fellow American Sock.
I did expect Richard Gasquet to get the better of Sock on Thursday and he probably should have done at a set and 4-2 ahead, but the Frenchman failed to see it out, and Sock fought considerably harder than was the case last week in Atlanta.
He hit plenty of winners with his forehand against Gasquet, but it will be the backhands of both players that will be under scrutiny tonight given that both are weak in that area.
Sock’s has come on a bit in recent times and I give him the edge in this one, with the 2-0 to Sock at 2.48 the biggest price I’m prepared to take on tonight.
The 22-year-old was able to outhit Johnson on clay at the French Open in straight sets earlier this year and while this is in vastly different conditions it indicates a superiority from the back of the court.
He edged their last meeting on a hard court at tour level in two tie breaks in Atlanta back in 2012, which isn’t really relevant to today, but Sock has won the last three completed matches against Johnson.
He’s also won nine of his last 11 as a 1.50 to 1.70 favourite and the price on a straight sets win looks decent here.
Sure thing: Back Isner to beat Berankis at 1.25
Value bet: Back over 9.5 games in set one of Groth/Nishikori at 1.60
Long shot: Back Sock to beat Johnson 2-0 at 2.48