A hugely disappointing display from Kei Nishikori and a great one from David Ferrer cost me on day seven at Melbourne Park. For reasons only known to Nishikori, he decided to try and hit through Ferrer, possibly thinking that his suspect knee wouldn’t last the distance in a grinding four or five set match.
The result was too many unforced errors and although Nishikori declined to blame the knee completely, there can be no other reason for him to change his playing style and try and blast past the Spaniard.
On to Sunday night’s play and the match that I’m looking forward to is the all-French affair between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet. The value in this lies with the enigma that is the Gasman.
We haven’t seen much from Tsonga this year and he has had a very comfortable passage through to this fourth round stage, with his most recent victory being over the exhausted Blaz Kavcic.
But his form at the end of last season is a concern for odds-on backers. Tsonga has lost his last 12 matches straight against top 10 ranked opposition and you have to go all the way back to the 2011 US Open when he beat Mardy Fish to find the last time he beat a top 10 player on an outdoor hard court.
Of course it rarely pays to put too much faith in Gasquet and the overs could be a good bet in this one, but on all form over the last six months or so you would have to give Gasquet a big chance. He still spends too much of his time on the defensive, miles behind the baseline, which is a constant source of frustration. But on these relatively slow paced hard courts I don’t see the 2013 Tsonga having an easy time of it tonight.
They have had some close matches over the years, with Gasquet leading the head-to-heads 4-3. They haven’t played each other for more than three years and this should be a pretty even match. We’ve seen some encouraging signs from Gasquet lately, not least when coming from the dead to win the Doha title. At 1.85 with a 1.5 set start I think he should prove to be a good bet.
Best bet: Back Gasquet +1.5 sets to beat Tsonga at 1.85