Thursday’s bets in the Shanghai Rolex Masters could have been much more profitable, had I selected the right wagers from my match analyses. I said that the best two outsiders of the day were Radek Stepanek and Tommy Haas and both odds-against shots were victorious, so hopefully a few took my advice on those.
I did still get a winner with the overs in Stepanek vs John Isner, but Haas absolutely obliterated Janko Tipsarevic, who had no answers to some vintage tennis from the 34-year-old German and he got the job done far too quickly for my bet. I expected stronger resistance from Tipsy, given his opportunity to earn valuable ranking points, but he was unable to get anything like a strike in on Haas on the day.
My other wager on Fernando Verdasco began well with the Spaniard winning the opening set. But despite his excellent season's record of 24-3 when he wins the first set, Nando crumbled and Cilic proved the stronger.
Friday is quarter-final day in Shanghai and first up is a potentially bruising encounter at 7am UK time between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych. This hard-hitting pair are meeting for the only the third time at tour level, with one previous scheduled meeting being a walkover for Tsonga. They played twice at roughly this time last year, with Berdych winning the clash on outdoor hard in Beijing and Tsonga the indoor meeting at the World Tour Finals.
This quick surface suits both players well and there should be a high number of service and forehand winners throughout this encounter. Tsonga has posted some good results lately, but he’s been prone to lapses and should have been tested further by both Benoit Paire and Marcos Baghdatis. Berdych is also known to waver in terms on concentration and that’s why I think that the best bet in this one is probably to take the overs.
I would expect a more comfortable win for Roger Federer over Marin Cilic. The bet I like in that one is for the match to finish in fewer than 20.5 games. Federer has never taken more than 10 games to finish off a set against Cilic in the eight they’ve contested, although the Croatian did grab one in their most recent meeting, which was at the US Open last year. Marin makes too many errors to put pressure on Federer for long and the Swiss, in conditions he enjoys, should be keen to avoid another close call such as the one he had against Stan Wawrinka on Thursday.
I would like to think that Haas has a chance of at least testing Novak Djokovic, who could be more vulnerable in these conditions after a long week in Beijing last week. Haas did put the Serb under pressure in their recent meeting on a hard court in Toronto and the German is not without half a chance today at a big price of around 8.0.
Tommy did beat an admittedly under par Djokovic twice on the lively grass of Halle and the slower grass of Wimbledon in 2009, so he’s been known to cause the world number two problems on quick surfaces. If he plays as well as he did against Tipsarevic and Djokovic is not at his best, this could be an upset waiting to happen. It must be remembered that Nole has never been past the semi-finals here in Shanghai.
I definitely believe that the German has a chance of taking a set at least and the best value bets in this one appear to be either to back Nole to win 2-1 at 4.60 or back Haas +1.5 sets at 3.05.
Back over 23.5 games in Tsonga vs Berdych at 1.87
Back under 20.5 games in Federer v Cilic at 1.90
Back Djokovic to beat Haas 2-1 at 4.60 or back Haas +1.5 sets at 3.05