Thursday saw a little normality restored in Metz and St Petersburg, as three of my four selections were winners.
Annoyingly, but not surprisingly this week, Lukasz Kubot lost six games in a row from 4-0 up against Daniel Gimeno-Traver, who reached the last eight of an indoor hard court event for the very first time in his career at the age of 27.
The courts in St Petersburg appear to be appreciably slower than previously and consequently the likes of Gimeno-Traver, Flavio Cipolla, Fabio Fognini and Roberto Bautista-Agut have made the quarter-finals. Bautista-Agut had never won a match at an indoor hard court tour level tournament in his career until this week, while Fognini is also playing in the last eight at this level indoors for the first time, as is Cipolla.
Kubot’s defeat was all the more galling, as the second part of my double cruised home when Paolo Lorenzi quit at 1-6, 1-3 down to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. It got better, though, when my tip Martin Klizan eased past Simone Bolelli for a good winner. That was followed up by my final tip Philipp Kohlschreiber taking down Benoit Paire.
It’s quarter-finals day in Metz and St Petersburg. 12 months ago these two tournaments saw seven from eight favorites prevail at this stage. All four in St Petersburg were heavily odds-on though, whereas the only one that is this time around is Mikhail Youzhny. He looks poor value at 1.22 against Garcia-Lopez, against whom he has a 0-4 record. Youzhny has been quite impressive this week so far, but I won’t be investing at that price.
For my first bet today I’m sticking with Klizan who’s a backable 1.64 to beat Ricardas Berankis. Klizan is looking pretty good again this week and should be confident coming into this match against former number one junior
This will be their first meeting on tour and although Berankis is a talent he’s been plagued by injuries in recent times. His form has tailed off a bit after a great run to the final in Los Angeles; losses to the likes of Tim Smyczek and Jan Hernych came before he benefited from two retirements here to reach the last eight.
He’s only played two and a half sets to reach this stage, which means he’ll be fresh, but he has only two wins over
lefties at tour level lifetime – and they came against Donald Young and Carsten Ball. Klizan will be my first bet and there’s a few others that I quite fancy at the prices, including Bautista-Agut at 2.37 against Fognini.
But for my second bet it’s over to Metz, where I suspect a long battle between Gael Monfils and Philipp Kohlschreiber, a match which takes place at around 3pm today.
These two have had some long clashes in their previous seven meetings. Monfils has had the upper hand at 6-1 but many of those matches have been very close, including the two tour level matches indoors – one of which was the 2009 final here.
Of their five matches played over three sets, three have gone the distance and over 22.5 games looks like a good bet to me at 1.70. Monfils is feeling his way back from injury and is Kohlschreiber prone to the odd dip, as we saw again yesterday against Paire.
Back Klizan to beat Berankis at 1.64
Back over 22.5 games in Monfils vs Kohlschreiber