Friday’s Daily ATP Hitter: Epic Quarterfinal Matchups in Monte Carlo
Thiem, baby. Thursday’s hitter got across — in somewhat dramatic fashion — as Domi Thiem knocked out Novak Djokovic 6-7, 6-2. 6-3 at the Monte-Carlo Masters. Domi probably should’ve won it in two, blowing set points on Djokovic’s serve at 5-2 and then dropping his serve at 5-3 before losing in the tiebreak. Thiem responded well, though, serving big in clutch moments and picking his spots to rip winners.
What a day we have in store tomorrow, highlighted by Thiem playing in another blockbuster against Rafa Nadal (pictured above), who seems to be playing some of the finest tennis of his illustrious career. I’m not exactly itching to take on Nadal in any way, shape or form at the moment, but I will say that the +5.5 games for Thiem looks mighty tempting. The two have met in each of the last two clay Masters — with Thiem taking out Rafa in Rome and Rafa winning a reaaaallly tight match in Madrid, 7-6, 6-4, in one of the best matches of last year. I’d take a look at the game spread if you want to get involved.
The match between Grigor Dimitrov (+100) and David Goffin (-120) could also be a thriller. I don’t have a strong feel either way, but I do think the value sits with the Bulgarian at plus money given his dominant track record against Goffin (9-1 head-to-head).
Marin Cilic – Kei Nishikori should also be a highly competitive match. My initial read said Kei, but I think I’ll sit on the sidelines.
That brings us to the one remaining match on Friday, which I did in fact wager on. Let’s get into our daily hitter.
Richard Gasquet (+160) vs. Sascha Zverev (-200)
Where: Monte Carlo, Monaco
When: Not before 9:30 a.m. ET
Gasquet has played fantastic all week, failing to drop a set so far in Monte Carlo. In the first round against Jeremy Chardy, Gasquet served efficiently, winning 74% of his first-serve points. In the second round against Diego Schwartzman, Gasquet upped that to a very impressive 83% — a ridiculous statistic against one of the Tour’s best returners.
Gasquet looked incredible against Schwartzman, whom he defeated with ease, 6-2, 6-1. He struck the ball so clean, moving Schwartzman from side to side with his infamous backhand, which looks full of venom. Gasquet continued his impressive run on Thursday, straight-setting Mischa Zverev.
It’s hard to argue that Gasquet hasn’t impressed more than Sascha thus far in Monte Carlo. Zverev needed three sets to come through each of his first two matches as a huge favorite (-700 vs. Gilles Muller, -400 vs. Jan-Lennard Struff). It’s been much of the same from Zverev this year, alternating between stretches of very impressive and poor play. In his first two matches, Zverev hasn’t faced a player who will push him from the baseline, which Gasquet can do. I think the Frenchman will have the edge in most extended rallies.
The pair has met three times before, all last year (in Montreal, Halle and Montpellier). Although Zverev won all of them, every match came down to the wire. I believe Gasquet can finally get over the hump — and I’m really starting to think this is simply “his week” in Monte Carlo. He has moved very gracefully on the clay and looks comfortable constructing points on his terms.
I think Gasquet keeps up his superb tennis and upsets Zverev here at +160. This price is simply too high for what should be a fourth tight encounter between the two.
THE PICK: Gasquet +160
Photo via Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports