Wednesday was another good day in Nice, with both of my best bets proving comfortable winners, and we head into the latter stages of the tournament in good shape.
Bellucci v Simon:
Thursday is quarter finals day in the Cote d’Azur and the opening match between Thomaz Bellucci and Gilles Simon should see the Frenchman move through to the last four.
This clash of styles has favoured Simon in the past, with the world number 12 having won all five of the sets contested between the pair.
Simon’s consistent, slightly defensive style is likely to come out on top against the hit and miss aggression of the left-handed Brazilian more often than not.
Bellucci is a dangerous opponent though, as Juan Carlos Ferrero discovered yesterday and as David Ferrer found out in Monte-Carlo when he was blown away in straight sets by Bellucci.
And the world number 70, who has been ranked as high as 21, is on a bit of a roll here in Nice having won five matches to get to this stage.
But playing in the city of his birth for the first time in this tournament I expect Simon to keep up his recent good form that was in evidence again yesterday when he closed out Grigor Dimitrov without losing a service game.
The 1.4 about a Simon win is a little skinny, so my bet in this one will be to take the Frenchman to win in straight sets at around 2.05
Baker v Kukushkin
The second bet that I will be having today is in the night match between Brian Baker and Mikhail Kukushkin.
Baker has been receiving plaudits from all quarters for his comeback from what appeared to be career-ending injuries and we had a winner with him the other day against Sergiy Stakhovsky, but this will be a tricky encounter.
The American was on fine form last night against Gael Monfils, but the Frenchman was nowhere near his best and it now seems that he’s suffering with injury and may have to miss Roland Garros.
Lamonf didn’t seem his usual athletic self at all last night and Baker might be a little too short in the betting for this one at around 1.67 as a result of what, on face value, was a mightily impressive win over a top-20 player.
Baker is a clean striker of the ball and he may well win tonight, but I can’t see it being in straight sets against Kukushkin and I’m backing the over 22.5 games at around 1.95
Kukushkin has posted two good wins over decent opposition in Sam Querrey and Bernard Tomic and showed the battling side of his game in coming from way back to beat the latter.
The young Aussie was 4-1 up and held match points in the deciding set against Kuku, but failed to get the job done and the Kazakhstan world number 55 should see this match as a decent opportunity to advance.
Baker has got to be running a little low on energy after five matches here – the last two of which will have taken a bit out of him and surely he’ll be saving something for Roland Garros.
Baker will be a relatively unknown quantity for Kukushkin and he’s just about favourite in my book, but I think this will be a struggle for him and the overs bet looks the call.
In the other two matches, Nico Almagro should progress against Steve Darcis, but is a very short price, while Isner should advance against Nikolay Daydenko, but I don’t have that much faith in Isner to back him at 1.37.
Best Bets: Back Simon to beat Bellucci 2-0 at 2.05; and Back over 22.5 games in Baker v Kukushkin at 1.95