It’s quarter finals day on the finely manicured lawns of Eastbourne and Rosmalen on Thursday as week 25 of the ATP Tour continues.
The enigma that is Bernard Tomic cost me my bet on Wednesday by failing to take his chances in a match where he outscored his opponent but ultimately wasn’t clinical enough on the big points.
Bernie took just one of 10 break point chances against Richard Gasquet, who seemed to be suffering with few of the injury problems that he has been moaning about lately, and that was the key to the match.
Now that we’ve reached the last eight stage of the events it’s a case of figuring out who wants to go further and who will decide that they’ve had enough grass court practice now and will be only too happy to head north to Wimbledon.
Gasquet surely will be one looking for more court time and he should be far too good for Martin Klizan in these conditions, assuming his back and shoulder are in decent shape.
The minus 3.5 games looks worthy of consideration there at 1.91, with Klizan having won just two matches on grass prior to this tournament.
The other three matches in Eastbourne are all priced up like they could go either way and all four in Rosmalen are too, so Gasquet is the only one that the layers are reasonably sure will win today.
Somewhat strangely, seven of the eight quarter finals across the two venues were won in straight sets by the favourites in these two tournaments 12 months ago, but it does show that the unders might come into play today, with players’ minds on Wimbledon.
Fernando Verdasco vs Jurgen Melzer
This battle of the lefties is scheduled for around 15:30 UK time in Rosmalen today and it should go the way of Verdasco, who has been the tournament favourite since day one when David Ferrer pulled out.
In typical Nando style he almost lost in the opening round to Paul-Henri Mathieu when he threw in 15 double faults, but edging that one and a more comfortable success over the limited Jesse Huta Galung yesterday should have him right for this.
I said yesterday that Lukas Lacko was a lively outsider against Melzer and the Slovak should have made that prediction come true, but yet again his brain intervened and he let it slip from a set up.
Melzer isn’t quite the player he was and these slow grass conditions favour the Spaniard, who showed his worth on slowish grass last year when he should have beaten Andy Murray at Wimbledon.
Against a fellow leftie in Melzer, Verdasco’s forehand has the edge, and that has been the case in their past encounters of which Nando has won six of the eight and four of the last five.
Jurgen has rarely achieved on the grass, with his last real success on the green stuff coming on much quicker grass in Newport way back in 2006 when he made the semis (his last semi on grass) and 2003 when he made the final (lost to Ginepri).
Assuming that Verdasco wants to go further he should do and the minus 1.5 games appeals on the Spaniard here at 1.78.
Another Spaniard who has a shot today in these conditions is Roberto Bautista-Agut, who Twitter followers will know I have as my outright bet in Rosmalen this week.
He faces defending champion and grass specialist Nicolas Mahut today and he’s the underdog, but he can keep the Frenchman at bay with his solid, flat hitting off both wings and he doesn’t really have a weakness that Nico can approach the net on.
I would have liked a bigger price about RBA though and I’m happy to stick with the outright in that one.
The obvious choice for overs backers today is the big-serving affair between Feli Lopez and Jeremy Chardy, but it seems too obvious and Feli might well be feeling it after Queen’s and only chokes from Tobias Kamke allowed him to reach this stage. Chardy might be a decent underdog in that one.
Denis Istomin as ever is in the ‘avoid’ category, although the fact that I quite like Edouard Roger-Vasselin in that one will almost certainly mean Istomin wins it, while my outright bet in Eastbourne is Julien Benneteau and he has a tough one against Sam Querrey.
Benny has a 1-5 head-to-head to overcome there, so I’m not sure why he’s slight favourite, while Joao Sousa’s questionable fitness makes him a shaky favourite against home hope Thiemo De Bakker in Rosmalen.
Back Verdasco –1.5 games to beat Melzer at 1.78