ATP Tennis Betting: Quick conditions point to fast Federer win over Gasquet

Friday is quarter finals day in China, as the 2017 Shanghai Masters heads into the latter stages at the Qi Zhong Tennis Centre.

As is so often the case after a great day previously the next day ended up being rather disappointing, with Alexander Zverev losing from a set up and Rafael Nadal far too solid for a hit and miss Fabio Fognini to force a tie break.

Zverev for me was too passive in the second and third sets against Juan Martin Del Potro and having not faced a single break point in the match until halfway through the deciding set the German was outgunned.

Of course the one I mentioned that I would have backed had the weather forecast been fine won and that was Viktor Troicki as underdog against John Isner. That one ended up being played late in the day on Stadium Court, but could have been held on any one of three courts.

Our two remaining outrights are in quarter final action on Friday, with Marin Cilic a short-priced favourite against Albert Ramos and Grigor Dimitrov a big underdog versus Rafael Nadal.

And it’s Cilic that starts the day’s play at around 06:00 UK time on Stadium Court when he faces Albert Ramos, who continues to surprise by playing well in conditions that one would have thought were not ideal for him at all.

Ramos actually beat Cilic here as a qualifier and 7.31 underdog back in 2011, but Cilic had only played and lost the final in Beijing two days before that match, while Ramos had the advantage of having played qualies.

Cilic has a very good record against lefties away from clay, but he was poor last week in Tokyo in a defeat to another leftie in Adrian Mannarino as a 1.30 chance, so we can’t take a Cilic win for granted here.

If Cilic plays at the level he did against Stevie Johnson on Thursday he should be too much in these conditions for Ramos, but if his level drops it could become very awkward for the Croat.

Next up is Rafael Nadal facing Grigor Dimitrov for the second time in a week and hopefully the Bulgarian can take advantage of the quick conditions and shock the Spaniard here.

Nadal has looked very focused so far this week, but he’s only been challenged sporadically by Fognini and Jared Donaldson and a peak form Dimitrov should cause Rafa many more problems.

The Bulgarian looked better than he has so far in Asia in a decent win over Sam Querrey, but he hasn’t been happy with his form generally so far this swing, and he’ll need his A-game to oust Nadal.

He has the right conditions to do it and I feel that Dimitrov can cause the upset if he has a really good day, but I’m not confident enough to bet on him doing so.

We profited last week from backing Nadal to beat Dimitrov 2-1 in Beijing and that wager is probably the best option again, with Dimitrov having taken at least a set off Nadal in all seven of their meetings on hard and indoor hard.

Set one to Dimitrov at 3.35 looks another possible option, but I’ll pass this time, with Rafa looking in peak form at the moment and Dimitrov frustratingly inconsistent.

Richard Gasquet vs Roger Federer

I’ve seen pretty much all of Gasquet’s play here in Shanghai this week and while he’s shown admirable battling qualities he shouldn’t really be at this stage of the tournament.

Robin Haase should have beaten him in straight sets, while Hyeon Chung deviated from a successful game plan after also leading and Gilles Simon reverted to his maddening pushing when a more attacking style would surely have got the job done.

Perhaps Simon and Gasquet know each other too well and have too much respect for one another’s abilities, but when Simon did unleash the shackles and play first strike tennis (as he did against David Goffin) the match was there on his racquet.

One man who will not mess about for a moment in that regard is Federer, who loves playing the back fence-dwelling Gasquet on quick courts and this could well be a comprehensive victory for the Swiss.

First strike tennis usually gets it done in these conditions, while Gasquet loves to build a point with angles before attempting a winner, and he doesn’t like to be rushed, hence his position miles behind the baseline.

So, the ultra-attacking Federer is a nightmare for Gasquet on a quick court, and he usually gets beaten very heavily, winning only one of 15 sets contested on outdoor hard – and that was 11 years ago.

The sets are usually very quick, with 12 of those 15 sets ending in under 9.5 games, and I like the under 9.5 games in set one here at a price of 1.88.

All seven of their clashes on outdoor hard have seen the opening set finish in nine games or fewer and unless Federer’s radar is a little off it’s tough to see Gasquet being competitive in this one. Given Gasquet's three battles already this week it wouldn't be much of a shock if he wasn't fully fit or retired on Friday.

The Federer/Gasquet match is at (not before) 13:00 UK time after Viktor Troicki versus Juan Martin Del Potro, which is scheduled at (not before) 11:00 UK time.

Delpo is a tricky one to bet on at the moment, with that backhand of his seemingly becoming easier for him to hit with two hands rather than the slice he’s been using due to wrist problems for some time.

While it’s not the weapon it once was the double-hander looks to be back to something pretty decent now, but will that continue or will he go back to hitting the slice if he feels a hint of pain there?

I distinctly recall the last meeting between Delpo and Troicki in Cincy five years ago when the Serb somehow managed to lose despite Delpo being unable to do anything other than slice the backhand after getting that left wrist injury in that match.

Troicki had no idea what to do once Delpo was forced to change tactics and some of the errors he made were laughable in a match that was there for the taking.

As expected, Troicki duly took down John Isner on Thursday, but he’s 0-6 versus Del Potro, although all barring that Cincy farce were in the days when Delpo could hit the backhand no problem.

And now it seems he can hit it again and if he can maintain the form he’s shown in his last two matches, where he’s been serving very strongly too, he should be too much for Troicki.

In his 145 career matches against top-25 ranked opposition (32-114) Troicki has never beaten three in a row, which he’d achieve if he beat Delpo, and given how both men are serving a set one tie break looks a decent option.

But it appears to be a day for the favourites and I’m only taking one wager on here.

Best Bets
1.5 points win under 9.5 games in set one of Federer/Gasquet at 1.88