Friday at the BB&T Open began in fine fashion with a comfortable win for my tip Gilles Muller over Matt Ebden.
The big leftie was never troubled by the Aussie and did not face a break point in a match in which he won 32 of 35 first serve points.
I suggested that returning the serve would be a problem for Ebden and so it proved as Muller eased to a 6-4, 6-4 win and reaches the semi finals, where he will face Go Soeda.
My other bet was spectacularly downed by Soeda, who thrashed countryman Kei Nishikori 6-2, 6-1 in an hour and 12 minutes.
I said that Soeda would push Nishikori, but no-one expected such a wide margin of victory and in truth it was a very poor display from the higher ranked Japanese player.
But take nothing away from Soeda, who after saving break points early on went from strength to strength and Nishikori had no answer.
In the other quarter finals, Andy Roddick had too much for Michael Russell, while John Isner and Jack Sock played out the close match that I anticipated.
Sock had chances to take the first set before eventually losing it 9-7 in the breaker and Isner eased home 6-4 in the second to set up another clash with Roddick.
So, first up on Stadium Court at 6pm UK time are Soeda and Muller, who meet for the first time in what has been priced up as not far off an even money game.
In Muller’s favour there is the fact that Soeda has never beaten a top-100 ranked player of 6’2” height or above in his career and is 2-24 in sets against those players. This is also the furthest that Soeda has ever been in a tour level event and only his second ever ATP semi final.
Muller isn’t exactly a regular at this stage of tour level events either, with his previous winning last four appearance coming in Los Angeles back in 2005, but he did make this stage here 12 months ago (lost to Isner).
If Soeda can come out and play the type of aggressive tennis that he showed against Nishikori then he should win this match, but he admitted to having nothing to lose in that clash.
Although it’s only an ATP 250 event, the nerves will be a factor and consequently I can see this one going the full distance and over 23.5 games will be my bet at 1.90
Tonight’s big match as far as the crowd are concerned is of course Roddick v Isner, which is scheduled for midnight UK time and I have to fancy Isner in this one.
It will be their sixth meeting, all of which have taken place on American hard courts and Roddick leads 3-2 at the moment, but Isner has won two of the last three.
The obvious bet in this one is the overs, but in three of their four matches over three sets they’ve finished in less than 23.5 games and I rather fancy Isner to get this done in two again.
Roddick only seems to bring his A-game out when he feels like it, which isn’t very often and this habit that he’s formed of pushing his ground strokes is unlikely to get it done against Isner.
We know that Roddick isn’t great on return of serve and that can be highlighted again by his 30% of total return points won against an average server such as Michael Russell last night.
Even the raw youngster Sock equaled that stat against Isner himself yesterday, so I don’t see how Roddick is going to win this other than perhaps on a couple of tie breaks.
And Isner has the advantage in that department as well, with a 71% win ratio on breakers in 2012, compared with Roddick’s 55%. The bet in this one is Isner outright at around 1.70
Best Bets: Back Isner to beat Roddick at 1.70; Back over 23.5 games in Soeda v Muller at 1.90.