Friday is quarter finals day in Montpellier, Zagreb and Quito, with 12 matches on the ATP World Tour to focus on today.
Thursday saw the unwanted streak of losses from multiple match points up halted, but the downside of that is we didn’t get to that juncture on a day of one winner and two losers.
My ‘sure thing’ of Philipp Kohlschreiber looked anything but in the early stages of his Montpellier clash with Paul-Henri Mathieu, but the German rode out the storm, found his range and emerged successful in three sets.
Alejandro Falla seemingly gave up against Paulo Lorenzi after double faulting twice at 5-5 in a tight opening set, while a surprisingly solid showing from Feli Lopez in Quito put paid to my ‘long shot’ double.
Viktor Troicki vs Guillermo Garcia-Lopez
This 11:00 UK time start in Zagreb looks the one in which to place our short-priced faith in today, with Troicki holding a clear mental edge over the Spaniard.
The Serbian is highly motivated this year after returning from a doping ban and that has been evident in the high standard of his play since coming back to the tour.
Troicki has won all five previous encounters with GGL and in conditions where he can use his big serve and attacking game to full effect it’s tough to see how the Spaniard can turn things around.
GGL had a comfortable day in Zagreb yesterday against the overmatched Damir Džumhur, but this will be a totally different kind of match and after disposing of Go Soeda with ease yesterday Troicki is in the form to chalk up another win over Garcia-Lopez.
Thomaz Bellucci vs Albert Montanes
Over to Quito for my ‘value bet’ today and once again the layers seem to have made Bellucci too short a price after the 1.41 they came up with in the Horacio Zeballos match.
The thinking, clearly, is that the altitude will help the power of the Brazilian to blast past the more defensive Montanes, but Bellucci can be extremely wayward and players here have commented often on how the aggression needs to be controlled.
Controlled aggression isn’t really Bellucci’s strong point and after a marathon with Zeballos he’s unlikely to be at his most patient at around 17:00 UK time when this one starts.
Montanes is a wily old campaigner who’s seen this all before and come out on top and he showed it again here in Quito when beating number two seed Santi Giraldo in straight sets in his last match.
The Spaniard has beaten Bellucci before, which was in their only career meeting last spring in slower conditions in Monte-Carlo, but he looks a good value outsider at 2.38 to be the victor again today.
Jerzy Janowicz vs Gilles Simon
I’m going to take a bit of a chance on Janowicz in my ‘long shot’ today, with the Pole likely to find the quick conditions to his liking in Montpellier and continue his good record against French opponents.
JJ’s big serve will obviously cause Simon problems and the defensive Frenchman may well be vulnerable to a few of those Janowicz drop shots too in his default position behind the baseline.
Janowicz used that tactic with great success in their only career meeting on indoor hard in slower conditions in Bercy back in 2012 and Simon may well find it too much again today.
Gillou has talked of putting himself under pressure here, as he says he’s fit and expects to do well, and that doesn’t seem a great mindset heading into this 13:00 UK time start.
To make it a 3.54 chance I’m sticking with Kohlschreiber, who should be nicely dialled in to conditions in Montpellier now after that three setter with Mathieu and he should have too much firepower for Joao Sousa.
Sousa’s success on indoor hard has come in slower conditions than this and he should be found out by Kohlschreiber in the end.
There are plenty of other outsiders, who look worthy of interest today, with all four favourites in Quito looking opposable and I'm not wild on backing Andreas Seppi and Gael Monfils as favourites either.
Sure thing: Back Troicki to beat Garcia-Lopez at 1.32
Value bet: Back Montanes to beat Bellucci at 2.38
Long shot: Back Janowicz to beat Simon and Kohlschreiber to beat Sousa at 3.54