Saturday is semi-finals day in all three of this week’s ATP 250 events in Moscow, Vienna and Stockholm.
Friday’s two best bets were both winners. Tommy Haas was a straight sets winner over Radek Stepanek after prevailing in a marathon opening set tie break, while Ernests Gulbis took the scenic route against Jerzy Janowicz, but came through in three in a match that involved underarm serves, smashed racquets and numerous altercations with the crowd. It’s all in a day’s work for Ernie and he goes through to face David Ferrer today.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Robin Haase
The big Frenchman looks a touch short here against an in-form Haase, who is playing some of his best tennis of the season right at the end. The Dutchman seems to love playing in Austria, where his record is 17 wins to just five losses in his career and the quick surface here will suit both in a match that should involve few breaks of serve.
Tsonga has admitted to not being in the best condition physically and his matches here so far this week have been a struggle, with yesterday’s win over young prospect Dominic Thiem going to a final set tie breaker. The number one seed looks vulnerable to me at around 1.23.
Haase has looked fired up for this all week and enjoyed a good win over Vasek Pospisil, which was followed up by a solid victory over the eccentric Italian Fabio Fognini, who, typically, decided that he couldn’t really be bothered after set one of their quarter-final and won just two more games in the match.
The only previous meeting between this pair went to two tie breakers and this should be similarly competitive with Haase + 3.5 games looking the bet here at around 2.10.
Richard Gasquet vs. Ivo Karlovic
Like the Tsonga match this looks another tough assignment for a Frenchman against an in-form opponent and they don’t come much trickier than Dr Ivo, who has the ability to make this a real test for the Gasman.
Karlovic was ruthless in ending the hopes of 17-year-old Karen Khachanov yesterday and in so doing chalked up his first ever 6-0 set in over 400 matches in the main draw of tour level events. He’ll be hoping to get into a similarly good groove on serve again today.
This will be their third meeting on the tour, with their most recent encounter being a four set win for Ivo in the US Open back in 2011. If the 34-year-old can find his best delivery the slower surface actually helps him with the ball biting into the surface and allowing for the ‘steepling’ bounce that is so effective.
I expect Gasquet to come though this one, but he’ll have to be careful and a few wagers appeal, notably the 2-1 Gasquet win at 3.40 or the Karlovic +1.5 sets at 1.90. Ivo has at least one good set in him and it will only take a moment’s lapse in concentration from Richard for this wager to land.
Elsewhere, the matches look tricky to call, with the clash between Grigor Dimitrov and Benoit Paire anyone’s guess as to what sort of form either of him will turn up in today, while Gulbis looks a little short at 1.74 against Ferrer, as does Haas against Lukas Rosol.
Back Haase +3.5 games to beat Tsonga at 2.10
Back Karlovic +1.5 sets to beat Gasquet at 1.90
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