Today is quarter-finals day in Zagreb, Montpellier and Vina del Mar. I'll start in Croatia, where the best bet for me is for Mikhail Youzhny to defeat Ivan Dodig.
The Russian loves these indoor conditions. While Dodig is a streaky campaigner who can occasionally string some results together, I think he’ll be a bit jaded after a couple of long matches on clay in the Davis Cup last week and a tough three setter with Ivo Karlovic yesterday.
Youzhny should be much fresher, with just a simple two setter played since Melbourne. In the first meeting between the two I doubt that Dodig’s main weapon, which is his serve, will be enough.
In Montpellier I’ll be adding Jarkko Nieminen to my betslip when he takes on Sergiy Stakhovsky this afternoon. Both of these players enjoy the indoor conditions, but the Finn for my money is the classier operator. He’ll be much fresher after Stakhovsky endured a long three setter involving two tie breaks with Tatsuma Ito yesterday, on top of his Davis Cup travels to the Ukraine. You don’t really want to be playing Nieminen when you’re tired and the Finn should take advantage today.
One favourite who could be troubled in Montpellier is Gilles Simon, who may struggle against the eccentric talents of Benoit Paire, who won their only previous career meeting on indoor hard in Rotterdam two years ago. Paire isn’t one to trust by any means, but if he fancies it today it could be a tough match for Simon.
In Vina del Mar I’m sticking with Carlos Berlocq to come through again. This time the Argentine takes on 22-year-old Frenchman Guillaume Rufin, who had a big win in the previous round over Juan Monaco.
This could be a close match, as Rufin is in good form, but after such a big win over a player like Monaco I expect a let-down from the relatively inexperienced Frenchman. Berlocq will be seeing this as a good opportunity to reach another final here in Chile with Monaco out.
I’ll be backing all three selections in three doubles - which pay 2.0, 2.22 and 2.03 - and a treble, which pays 3.0.
Best bets: Back Youzhny, Nieminen and Berlocq in three doubles and a treble