The rain intervened on Thursday at Eastbourne, but my wager in s-Hertogensoch was a winner, making it a profitable day of grass court tennis.
Xavier Malisse eased through to the semi-finals at the expense of Gilles Muller in the Netherlands, but rain on the south coast of England meant that my bet on Philipp Kohlschreiber carries over to today.
Number one seed David Ferrer was most impressive in demolishing Igor Sijsling to earn his place in the last four on Thursday, losing just three points on serve in a 6-0, 6-1. He’s at a very short price in today’s match against unpredictable Frenchman Benoit Paire.
The world number six has faced the 6’5 Paire on two occasions in the past year and prevailed in straight sets on both occasions. Both meetings took place at Slams – one at the French Open last month and one on the grass of Wimbledon – and Paire is yet to take a set from the Spaniard.
Before this week, Paire had won just one match on grass, but with his towering delivery and hard-to-read shot-making it’s no real surprise that he’s tough to handle on the green stuff. But the way that Ferrer dismissed Sijsling today shows that he’s in the mood this week and will probably claim a second career title in s-Hertogenbosch.
It’s never easy to predict a Paire match, as it essentially comes down to the winners-to-unforced errors ratio with him. This is only his second semi-final at tour level and first on grass but I doubt that will alter his hit-and-miss game plan. I think Ferrer will be too consistent and make Paire go for outrageous winners. In the end, the Spaniard will make him miss too often and prevail in less than 20.5 games at around 1.84
Before all that, the first semi-final features Xavier Malisse taking on Philipp Petzschner, who fired down 14 aces on his way to defeating Edouard Roger-Vasselin in a tight encounter yesterday. Malisse and Petzschner are meeting for the first time in their careers and I think we could be in for a long match, with serves crucial.
The German can be a classy operator on grass on his day, with wins over the likes of Milos Raonic and Tomas Berdych on the surface recently. He’s clearly on a roll this week after coming through qualifying to get to this stage.
He’s yet to drop a set here this week and he’s been pretty solid behind that big serve, but he doesn’t quite have the variety that Malisse brings to a grass court. With the crowd on his side, the Belgian should just sneak this one. Malisse showed his quality when it mattered yesterday against a frustrated Muller, who ended up ranting at the umpire – something which one usually associates with Malisse.
There are a couple of bets that I could take on here, but the chancier one is to back the Belgian to win 2-1 at around 3.75. The alternative is to back Malisse -2.5 games at around 2.0, which I think should work out to be the right call today.
Back under 20.5 games in Ferrer v Paire at 1.84
Back Malisse -2.5 games at 2.0 v Petzschner