With the US Open done and dusted the ATP Tour has a week off, but there’s no rest for many players as the Davis Cup takes centre stage this weekend. Attention will be focused on the World Group semi-finals between Spain and the USA and Argentina and the Czech Republic, but with the World Group play-offs also taking place this weekend there are plenty of matches to look at.
This being Davis Cup there are quite a few matches that involve favourites that are priced up at sub 1.10 which are of little interest to most punters. But there are a few competitive-looking encounters scheduled for Friday that take my interest.
The first of these is the potentially pivotal clash between Nico Almagro and John Isner on the clay of Gijon. I have to give the big man a chance in this match on recent Davis Cup form. Isner has taken down Roger Federer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon on the clay in Davis Cup in recent ties and Almagro looks vulnerable at a price of around 1.33.
Although his Davis Cup record reads a decent 7-2 he hasn’t beaten anyone of note in Davis Cup yet and those two losses were against Stan Wawrinka and Simon. Nico also doesn’t have the kind of experience that David Ferrer and Rafa Nadal bring to this Spain team; when it comes to big matches, he's only had three Slam quarter-finals, in which he didn’t win a set.
Almagro and Isner have met just the once, which was on the grass of Wimbledon last year, when three of the four sets went to tie breaks. I can envisage another long battle and I’m going over the 41.5 total games mark at 1.95
The next match where there could potentially be an upset is the opening tie of the Germany vs Australia clash, which takes place on the red clay of Hamburg. Bernard Tomic has a pretty dismal record on clay, despite playing a fair bit on the dirt this year. I wouldn’t want to be on him here at 1.67 against a capable player like Cedrik-Marcel Stebe.
Again, Tomic has a decent 7-1 Davis Cup record, but none of those eight matches were played on clay and many were against very low ranked opposition. His recent record against left handers isn’t great either. The Aussie, who was last seen effectively quitting against Andy Roddick in New York and then sniping at a journalist in the subsequent press conference, has lost three of his last four against lefties and has never won a set against a southpaw on clay in his career.
Stebe has only played one Davis Cup tie so far in his career, but it was at least on clay and he did win it, beating Eduardo Schwank in straight sets in a dead rubber. Home advantage will obviously be helpful. He has had some good results at the Rothenbaum Tennis Centre, where he defeated Juan Carlos Ferrero and Nikolay Davydenko in the Hamburg ATP 500 event last year and pushed Juan Monaco hard in this year’s tournament.
There are a few options to choose from in this to effectively oppose Tomic. The match odds of 2.15 on Stebe are appealing, but I’m sure the mercurial Tomic will produce at least a set or two of very decent tennis, so I’m going with the overs in this one as well. The total games mark is set at 38.5 games and over that mark is 1.87
Back over 41.5 games in Almagro v Isner at 1.95
Back over 38.5 games in Stebe v Tomic at 1.87