It was a case of fine margins proving the difference on Thursday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia 2012.
We were frustratingly beaten by Stan Wawrinka’s inability to claim a straight sets win over Andreas Seppi: amazingly, he blew numourous match points and ended up losing the tie.
Then his Swiss compatriot Roger Federer failed to get the job done quickly enough against JC Ferrero, despite being in total control of the match and wasting numerous break point chances.
At least the bet on Andy Murray and Richard Gasquet to go longer than 21.5 games proved an easy winner and we were collecting on that one early on in the second set. Murray fans had to suffer another set and a half before their hero went out to the Frenchman, tamely in the end, and the Scot later revealed that he has been suffering with a back injury all year.
So there’s no Murray on show during quarter finals day at the Foro Italico, but there are four top class matches as the tournament moves to the business end of proceedings.
Unfortunately, you won’t get rich from backing any of the favourites again today, as the biggest price on offer is the 1.19 for David Ferrer to beat Richard Gasquet.
Accumulator backers will, no doubt, be on the four favourites today and it’s very hard to make a case for any of them losing, with the possible exception of Rafa Nadal who’s a terrible price at 1.09.
First up is Ferrer, who will be relishing another go at Gasquet, who he has beaten in straight sets in six of their seven encounters. They haven’t actually met on clay since 2004, but with this red dirt surface favouring Ferrer even more, it’s very hard to see where Gasquet will find the improvement, especially after a long match yesterday.
Ferrer revels in these conditions and a tired Gasquet will not be looking forward to this one. It could be over pretty quickly and the play here is to back under 99.5 minutes at around 1.87
Next up is Nadal v Tomas Berdych. While it’s tough to see the Czech winning this, he should make it difficult for the Spaniard today and I like the odds of 1.74 on him winning with a 5.5 game start on the handicap.
Berdych has looked like a man with a lot more self-belief and purpose lately and it’s not beyond him to give Rafa a very testing game today despite having lost the last 10 in a row to him. The Berdman should have beaten Nadal in their last meeting in Melbourne and although that was on a slowish hard court, he does have the tools to hit winners off both wings on this surface as well.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic takes on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at 3pm UK time today after the Frenchman surprisingly beat an out of sorts Juan Martin Del Potro yesterday.
This is where the fun ends for Tsonga though in what will be the pair’s first meeting on clay. Tsonga holds a 5-4 lead over Djokovic head-to-head, but he doesn’t have the capacity to regularly hit winners on this slow clay. I can’t see how he’s going to have the patience to stay in the rallies long enough to make an impression today.
Juan Monaco did well yesterday against Djokovic, but the world number one dug deep and I fancy he won’t have to today, as Tsonga will surely be tempted to go for the big shots at the wrong times out of frustration.
I’m happy to take Djokovic minus 4.5 games on the handicap in this one at around [1.84]
Back Ferrer v Gasquet to be under 99.5 minutes at 1.87
Back Berdych to beat Nadal +5.5 games at 1.74
Back Djokovic to beat Tsonga –4.5 games at 1.84