The finals of week 29’s three ATP 250 events are in-play on Sunday, with a trio of intriguing matches in prospect in Bastad, Umag and Bogota.
Saturday provided another ‘sure thing’ winner in the form of Tommy Robredo, who was a straight sets winner over Alexander Zverev, while there was an upset in the other Bastad semi final.
I pointed out the poor record lately of Pablo Cuevas against players over 6’4” in height and the Uruguayan lost another one after an epic meltdown concerning a poor line call to Benoit Paire.
Elsewhere, Ivo Karlovic lost in two tie breaks to Adrian Mannarino, while the overs was successful in the Umag semi between Gael Monfils and Dominic Thiem, but Roberto Bautista-Agut was beaten by Joao Sousa.
Tommy Robredo vs Benoit Paire
Paire played reasonably well against Cuevas on Saturday, but I can’t help feeling that it was essentially Cuevas’ shocking lack of mental fortitude that was the key to Paire winning that match rather than a hugely high level from the Frenchman.
Cuevas, ahead 4-2 in set one was furious when a serve that looked in was called out and he didn’t let it go until he was a set and 3-0 behind, which is behaviour one would associate more with Paire.
But fair play to Paire, he took his chance, and is into his first tour level since Montpellier back in 2013.
Paire is yet to win a title at tour level and Robredo is a 1.50 chance to land his 13th tour title on Sunday and the Spaniard overall is 12-10 in finals at main level at the moment.
It’s set to be wet in Bastad again today and that should make for damp clay, which is likely to negate the advantage that Paire has on serve, but the Frenchman claims that the slow conditions help him.
I’m not so sure and having lost his last three finals Robredo will be very keen to add another to his CV, having not won one since Umag in 2013.
As a 1.50 to 1.60 favourite on clay Robredo has a 14-5 career record at main level, while Paire as a 2.50 to 3.0 underdog on clay is 1-4 at main level, with the one being yesterday against Cuevas.
The pair have met once before on the tour, which was in Casablanca two years ago and it was typical Paire sort of score line in a 7-6, 2-6, 6-0 win for Robredo.
The value to me here looks to be the 1.77 about Robredo -2.5 games in damp conditions that he should prove the more reliable player in.
Joao Sousa vs Dominic Thiem
I wouldn’t have picked these two to make the final in Umag after both had tough Davis Cup duty last weekend, but here they are, and it’s the young Austrian who is the favourite in this one.
I did not expect Sousa, who has played a lot of tennis this last week, to be able to outlast Bautista-Agut in hot conditions on Saturday, but he achieved a fine win over the Spaniard and deserves his spot in the championship match.
Conditions should be a fair bit more comfortable today at 20:00 local time (19:00 UK time) when this match begins, as it’s set to be 27C only, which makes a change from what the players have dealt with this week in Croatia.
Thiem has beaten Sousa twice on hard courts, but I would expect a tighter match on slow clay here and much will depend on which player has more left in the tank on the day.
The Austrian has won a tournament on clay already this year, with a win in Nice, and this will be his third ATP Tour final in his career, while Sousa has made four finals and won one so far.
As a 1.50 to 1.70 favourite on clay Thiem is 4-1 at main level, while Sousa as a 2.30 to 2.60 underdog on clay at main level is 6-2 in his career.
That shows how hard this one is to call and in these slow conditions I like the no tie breaks at 1.60 here.
In 59 sets of tennis in the main draw in Umag we’ve had only six tie breaks this week and on that basis the odds on there not being one here look good.
The stats say it’s unlikely to feature a breaker, but I still think it’ll go over the 19.5 games, with the 1.31 about that looking the ‘sure thing’ today.
Bernard Tomic vs Adrian Mannarino
The Bogota final takes place at around 21:00 UK time tonight when it’s set to be a chilly 15C, but as ever with high humidity, and little wind.
Tomic is back in the Bogota final to defend the title he won last year by beating Karlovic and the Aussie is unbeaten here in eight matches so far.
He edged past a determined and aggressive Michael Berrer last night in a final set tie break and had to overcome a spell of illness that saw him take some pills in the final set.
Tomic beat Mannarino in their only prior career meeting on slow outdoor hard in Acapulco earlier this year and I’d give the Aussie the edge in terms of mentality in this one.
Bernie is much the calmer on court (not sure about off it) while the emotional Mannarino didn’t really show much in his fist tour level final in Auckland earlier this year in a tame loss to Jiri Vesely.
Tomic has won two of his three tour level finals and I would expect him to defend here at the expense of the Frenchman.
The controversial Aussie clearly enjoys conditions here, where he can combine his decent serve with the variety and control of the tennis ball that he is blessed with and I like the -1.5 games on him at 1.92.
Sure thing: Back over 19.5 games in Sousa/Thiem at 1.31
Value bet: Back Tomic -1.5 games to beat Mannarino at 1.92
Long shot: Back Robredo -2.5 games and no tie breaks in Sousa/Thiem at 2.83