Friday was a successful day of betting on the ATP Tour, with all of my selections winning.
Mikhail Youzhny was a comfortable winner over Ivan Dodig in Zagreb, with the Russian not even facing a single break point. Jarkko Nieminen’s victory over Sergiy Stakhovsky was much tougher, with the Finn eventually coming through in a deciding set tie breaker.
Today is semi-finals day in Zagreb, Montpellier and Vina del Mar. In France Michael Llodra takes on Benoit Paire in the opener in what should be an entertaining match between the two Frenchman. I would give the edge to Llodra in his favourite conditions, but he’s a touch short at around 1.50.
In the second-semi final another Frenchman, Richard Gasquet, takes on Nieminen for the eighth time in total of a series that Gasquet leads 5-2. He’s a 1.27 shot to reach the final, which again is a little on the short side.
Each of the most recent four meetings between the pair have gone to a deciding set, including here in Montpellier back in 2010 when Nieminen won in the second round. But more relevant is the meeting in Bangkok at the end of last season, which Gasquet won 6-2 in the decider. I think this match could be close again today.
Gasquet has dropped sets in both of his matches here so far this week and in conditions that Nieminen enjoys he can push the number three seed close. My bet in this one will be to take the Finn with a 4.5 game start on the handicap at around 1.75.
Over in Zagreb it’s Jurgen Melzer taking on Robin Haase first up at 1.45pm UK time. These are two inconsistent players so I won’t be having a bet in that one. Melzer has been on the slide for a while, but has perked up a bit back indoors this week, while Haase is too unpredictable to trust.
I much prefer the option of backing Youzhny again in the second semi-final in Zagreb, when the Russian takes on Marin Cilic. The Croatian number one seed has been put in as the 1.60 favourite for this match, but for me he hasn’t looked that good this week and Youzhny has played the better tennis.
Cilic has had the better of the head-to-head in recent times, winning three of the last four meetings, but Youzhny is in the kind of form to cause a minor upset this afternoon. The Russian number three seed won the first four meetings between the pair and at around 2.30 he’s well worth a bet to reach the final in Zagreb for the second consecutive year.
Cilic is favourite based on the fact that he’s playing at home and the recent head-to-head, but he hasn’t achieved much on indoor hard for a couple of years now. For me the conditions favour Youznhy and he is the value to reach another Zagreb final.
Back Nieminen +4.5 games to beat Gasquet at 1.75
Back Youzhny to beat Cilic at 2.30