Jeremy Chardy owed us one after blowing a 40-0 lead and five game points in all against Sam Querrey earlier in the week to deny us a 2-1 winner, but he made up for it with a trademark choke on Thursday.
In a real up and down battle with Cristian Garin, Chardy had managed to drag himself to a 6-3 lead in the final set tie break, but from there it was typical Chardy, as he contrived to lose the last four points in a row to hand victory to Garin and to us a 2.45 winner.
It’s a tad annoying that Garin has now made the quarter finals of a M1000 on indoor hard after we’d backed him at 50-1 in an ATP 250 indoors a few weeks ago and seen him lose from 1.07 in-play against Andreas Seppi.
Such is the fickle nature of outright betting though and we got nowhere this week on that front with John Isner and Matteo Berrettini, which is disappointing.
We move on to the quarter finals of the Paris Masters and this is a round that has produced a lot of underdog winners lately, with a healthy 43% of them winning in the last six years.
It’s produced an awful lot of tie breaks, as well, with 61% of the quarter finals played here in the last six years featuring at least one tie break.
And I’m happy to take a chance that there’ll be one in the opening match of the day on Friday on Court Central when Cristian Garin takes on Grigor Dimitrov.
It’ll be a first career meeting between the pair, but I mentioned yesterday the strong serving numbers of Garin ahead of the Chardy match and the Chilean again was impressive on his own deal.
He won 81% of his first serve points (the same number as the big serving Chardy) and those two breakers against the Frenchman have pushed Garin on to a big 0.39 tie breaks per set in his last 10 main level matches.
Garin’s held serve 88.2% of the time in those matches and won over 70% of his service points and while we have to consider that he’s played Isner and Opelka in that run of matches he’s proven tough to break.
Chardy only managed it once in three sets on Thursday from only three opportunities and I’m not convinced that Dimitrov, who isn’t one of the most prolific breakers of serve around, will fare much better.
The Bulgarian has had the benefit of facing an opponent he has a big mental hold over (Goffin) and one that looked very jaded (Thiem) so far this week and while he’s taken advantage of the situation well I’m not sure he should be as short as 1.26 here.
Dimitrov has played at least one tie break in six of his last seven main level matches when priced between 1.20 and 1.39, so he’s not exactly been brushing opponents aside lately.
He looked in good order against Thiem, but that was a tired effort from the Austrian and at odds of 4.20 I don’t mind taking a chance on a set one breaker here.
It would take some effort for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to roll back the years and take down Rafael Nadal in the night match, but again I wouldn’t be surprised to see a tie break or two here.
Tsonga struggles to keep his best level up these days and he was a bit fortunate that some of Jan-Lennard Struff’s old frailties came back to haunt the German in the final set breaker of their clash on Thursday.
Tsonga will throw everything at Nadal and it could win him a set, probably on a breaker, and Nadal hasn’t won a Paris Masters quarter final since 2013, but I won’t be parting with any money backing Tsonga here.
I said yesterday that both Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas were struggling with sickness in their opening matches, but both recovered well on Thursday in straight sets wins.
We know that Tsitsipas enjoys the challenge of facing the elite players and while he was outgunned by Roger Federer in Basel last week I wouldn’t count him out by any means against Djokovic.
Tsitsipas has won two of their three career meetings – the last one from a set down only a few weeks ago in fast conditions in Shanghai – and he confirmed the other day what I was talking about last week regarding him playing better versus the best opponents.
“It's an extra motivation for me going out on court [against the elite], putting the best version of myself out there,” he said. “I feel like games like this have much more importance than other ones, although I do respect every single opponent I face. But there is obviously much more attention, more people are looking, [and I] always want to bring the best out of it.”
Djokovic was once again tested on Thursday, this time by Kyle Edmund, who had his chances in set one, but the Serb looked to be fully in control by the end of set two of that one.
The less attacking game of Djokovic gives Tsitsipas more time on the ball than against Federer and over 2.5 sets at 2.55 looks a fair option in that one.
0.5 points win over 12.5 games in set one of Garin/Dimitrov at 4.20