Re: Favourites Friday?
Nikolay Davydenko 1.59 over Radek Stepanek
You can't help but give Davydenko a ton of credit. After being stripped of the chance to defend his title in Miami, Davydenko bounced back impressively with a quarterfinal appearance in Monte Carlo where he would've had a great shot at advancing to the semis if it were not for a tough break in scheduling that made him play Murray after a grueling victory over Nalbandian. This week has been more of the same as Davydenko has carried on with that never quit attitude and has positioned himself to make a SF showing.
Radek Stepanek has bounced back well this week after a tough first round loss to Lapentti in Monte Carlo last week. The enigmatic Czechman has needed 3 setters to get to this point but has showed some resilicieny to set up this encounter
Stepanek is such an up and down guy but when hes on hes as dangerous as anyone in the world. These two have met 7 times with Stepanek holding a 4-3 edge including 3 in a row. They've split two meetings on clay but I think today Kolya will be too much for him. The only downer? My book places no action on wagers where anyone retires and I think that its possible Stepanek could tank if things dont go well for him early on as he may have his eyes set on defending his appearance in the final of Rome last year and I'm almost confident he probably won't play/finish the match against Nadal in case he does advance.
Tommy Robredo 2.52 over David Ferrer
Ferrer, after his nice performance in Dubai, has been solid but not much more since. Some thought that he would return to his top 10 form after working things out in his personal life but Ferrer has struggled this year against top 20 opponents. Last week in a similar matchup, fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco took Ferru to the woodshed to secure his spot in the Quarters.
Robredo on the other hand has been excellent all season long. Tommy struggles on hard courts, but Tommy has rededicated himself and this has netted in 2 clay court titles already this season and a powerful 17-3 record on the surface.
These two have met 5 times, 4 on clay and that is a dead even 2-2. Last year when they met in Barcelona, it took Ferrer, who was in much better form, 2 tough sets to knock out his compatriot. This time around, I think Robredo will get his revenge as Ferrer has struggled all week and has been pretty uninspiring on the clay this season (aside from his dominant Davis Cup performance against a tanking Djokovic). Robredo for me, too much value.
Fernando Gonzalez 2.54 over Fernando Verdasco
Fernando Gonzalez has had yet another solid season. After starting the year off with a splash, an extremely impressive victory over Gasquet in front of a frenzied crowd in Melbourne, Gonzalez then proceeded to win another title on his home soil winning Vina Del Mar with relative ease. He even took a set off of Federer in Indian Wells before succombing to the world #2 in the decider and has breezed to the Quarters this week.
Fernando Verdasco has had his best season as a professional. The Spaniard sports a 17-5 record including having made atleast the quarters of every tournament he's played in. After he makes the quarters, however, Verdasco has been suspect at times. He was awful in Indian Wells against Federer, he sadly airmailed the match a couple weeks later in Miami against Murray, and then last week against Djokovic in the quarters he looked absolutely awful. Verdasco has built on last years results but its still in question whether or not he's top 5 caliber.
The head to head between the 2 is 2-2, 1-1 on clay but the last match was played 3 years ago. Verdasco has been impressive to start the year but didn't look too spectacular yesterday vs. Berdych. Many people don't know but Gonzo has a nice pedigree on clay including a bunch of titles on the surface and I think he'll boss Verdasco around the court forcing the Spaniard into tons of UE's en route to what should be an appearance in the final.