It was an up-and-down day on the ATP Tour on Saturday, as I went one from two on my selections. Jarkko Nieminen pushed Richard Gasquet to three sets and sneaked the win with a 4.5 game start and it looked good for Mikhail Youzhny as well when he took the first set from Marin Cilic, only for the Croatian to fight back for the win.
Gasquet takes on Benoit Paire in the Montpellier final today in an all-French affair. This will be the first career meeting between the two. Paire came back from a set down against Michael Llodra yesterday to reach his first final on indoor hard at tour level and only his second ATP World Tour final – he lost his first to Andreas Seppi on clay in Belgrade last year.
Gasquet is much more experienced in finals, of course. He’s contesting his 19th at tour level, although he has only ever won one title on indoor hard - in Bangkok at the end of last season. Having never won this Montpellier title and having worked hard to get here with all of his matches going the full three sets, Gasquet will be determined to win this tournament. The odds of 1.28 reflect his chances of doing just that.
Paire has it all to prove at the moment, although he has shown a fair bit of steel to get through some tough matches this week. For me this one goes the way of Gasquet and I’m backing him to overcome a 3.5 game handicap at a price of around 1.80.
Over in Zagreb the final kicks off at around 3.45pm UK time when Cilic takes on Jurgen Melzer. It’s very hard to see the Austrian denying Cilic in his own backyard given his recent form.
Melzer has done well to put the disappointment of a really poor Davis Cup showing behind him and win a few matches this week, but he’s enjoyed a very kind draw. I’m not convinced that his current level will be good enough to challenge Cilic today.
Melzer has won just two of his last ten matches against top 20 opposition - and they were against Feliciano Lopez and Alex Dolgopolov, who are not exactly the most robust of opposition.
In finals, Melzer has a 4-7 losing record and this will be only his second appearance in a final since October 2010. Cilic is looking for his third title here in Zagreb and he has an 8-7 winning record in tour level finals. He has also won six of the eight meetings between the pair.
This will be their fourth career meeting on indoor hard courts, with Cilic leading 2-1 at the moment. Each of their last five meetings on all surfaces have been decided in straight sets. That’s the way I can see this one going today and the Cilic 2-0 win at around 1.80 is the bet that appeals.
Back Gasquet -3.5 games to beat Paire at 1.80
Back Cilic to beat Melzer 2-0 at 1.80