Davis Cup Betting: Karlovic is key in tight semi-final clash
Can the big serving Croatian find form in time for the semi-final?
"Croatia and the Czech Republic are evenly matched on paper and it could be tight with the players looking comparable in the singles rubbers."
The Davis Cup swings back into action on Friday and tennis tipster supreme Sean Calvert knows where you should put your money...
Following the excitement and controversy of this year's US Open we have no ATP tour event until Monday, but there is still money to be made on men's tennis this week.
Friday sees the 2009 Davis Cup reach the semi-final stage and after correctly predicting the winners of all four ties in the quarter finals , I'm hoping to continue that form in the semis.
Spain v Israel
You're not likely to get rich by backing defending champions Spain in this tie, as their outright price to progress to the final is around the [1.03] mark.
The tie is being played on the red clay of Murcia and with the exception of the doubles rubber it's hard to see how Israel can put a dent into a Spain squad that has excellent strength in depth.
Even without the injured Rafa Nadal and Fernando Verdasco they should have too much for Israel, who have done brilliantly to get this far.
The hosts have Tommy Robredo, David Ferrer, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Feliciano Lopez to choose from, which is a strong clay court line-up compared with their opponents, who are more comfortable on hard courts.
If this tie were on a hard surface then you would fancy Israel's Dudi Sela to take out Robredo (3-0 Sela head-to-head) and quite possibly Ferrer or Ferrero too, but Sela's 1-5 clay court record in 2009 doesn't give much cause for Israeli optimism and Sela has been struggling with a wrist injury of late, which may explain his recent poor form.
Harel Levy has a wonderful record in Davis Cup this year, with three wins out of four over players ranked far higher than him and the 31-year-old can play a bit on clay - perhaps better than his more illustrious team mate.
He reached the quarter finals of the Genova Challenger last week on the red dirt, but a loss to Alberto Martin gives an idea of his overall ability level.
Spain's David Ferrer has never been defeated in his four home Davis Cup matches, but has been suffering from tendonitis lately, while Juan Carlos Ferrero is now ranked just two places lower than Ferrer at number 21 in the world after a fine season.
Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram have won 11 of their 14 Davis Cup rubbers as a pair and look good again to earn Israel at least a point, particularly as Verdasco won't be partnering Lopez in the doubles for Spain this time.
Spain have won their last 16 home ties in a row, but without Nadal and Verdasco they are clearly weakened and against a stronger side on another surface they could be vulnerable. However, as it stands expect Spain to come through either 4-1 or perhaps 3-2 if Israel can pull off a shock singles win.
Croatia v Czech Republic
These sides look evenly matched on paper and it could be tight with the players looking comparable in the singles rubbers.
The tie will be played on the same indoor clay surface in Porec where Croatia won their two other home ties this year, but I won't be backing the home side at around [1.69] for victory on this occasion.
Croatia will field the in-form Marin Cilic, who has won all four of his Davis Cup rubbers in 2009 and who of course thrashed Andy Murray in New York.
Cilic will be joined by Ivo Karlovic, who isn't in the best of form right now, having lost four of his last five matches, including a straight sets first round beating by Ivan Navarro at Flushing Meadows.
These two will play in all of the singles ties, but expect Croatia to struggle in the doubles where Roko Karanusic and Lovro Zovko were hammered by the Bryan brothers in Croatia's quarter final tie with the USA.
The Czech team have a distinct advantage, as they can call upon US Open doubles champion Lukas Dlouhy in addition to the fact that Tomas Berdych is unbeaten in Davis Cup doubles and Radek Stepanek has a 6-1 winning doubles record.
Berdych and Stepanek will play the singles and both have good Davis Cup records - Berdych is 19-7, while Stepanek is 12-7.
This clash could hinge upon Karlovic, as I expect Cilic to win both his singles (he has never played Berdych, but thrashed Stepanek at Roland Garros this year).
If Karlovic is in form he could swing it the way of Croatia, as he is a decent player on clay, but a correct score 3-2 bet either way could be the call in what should be a tight encounter and I just fancy the Czech Republic on the outright at [2.16].
Read More Tennis
There's no ATP Tour action for Sean Calvert to mull over this week, so instead our tennis expert has turned to the Davis Cup to find a few betting opportunities over the Easter weekend....
Without Andy Murray in their ranks Team GB are in for a tough first round match against Slovakia says Sean Calvert, but Japan look a good bet to beat Croatia....
Rafa's on his favourite red clay of home and, while he should win, Juan Martin del Potro can trouble him... for a little while at least...
Old-stager Nalbandian hasn't been risked in the singles but will the ploy work out with a win in today's doubles? Sean Calvert says yes!...