It's quarter-final day on Friday at the Shanghai Masters, and with Roger and Rafa safely through to this stage, there are big names in every match on the schedule. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, assesses the value...
"Ramos has already beaten Cilic at this venue in 2011, and has a solid record in Shanghai overall, making the last 16 (while beating Roger Federer) in 2015, and his main draw defeats at the venue have all been close matches."
Nadal and Federer avoid banana-skins on day five
Thursday's third-round action saw Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer advance to the quarter-finals in extremely straightforward fashion, dropping four and six games respectively against the potential banana-skins, Fabio Fognini and Alexandr Doglopolov.
Both Fognini and Dolgopolov are opponents with a high peak level and could have given either big name a difficult match when close to their best, so the tournament favourites will be delighted to make Friday's quarter-final with the minimum of fuss.
In some of the longer matches, Richard Gasquet was again able to put considerable pressure on the Gilles Simon serve, breaking his compatriot six times en route to a three-set victory, while Alexander Zverev was dumped out, losing a set lead to succumb to Juan Martin Del Potro. Grigor Dimitrov, Albert Ramos, Marin Cilic and Viktor Troicki (another underdog win for the Serb) were Thursday's other victors.
Ramos likely to give Cilic a decent match
The Spanish clay-courter, Ramos, is rewarded for his 7-6 6-4 win over Jan-Lennard Struff with a quarter-final clash with Marin Cilic, and this match-up commences Friday's schedule at 6am UK time.
Indeed, this was the only match where my model recorded some pre-match value, liking Ramos as a heavy underdog at [4.9]. Of course, Cilic should be a considerable favourite, but a model price of [1.37] was calculated, compared to the current market line of [1.24] about the Croat, who is still yet to entirely convince following an injury picked up at Wimbledon.
Ramos has already beaten Cilic at this venue in 2011, and has a solid record in Shanghai overall, making the last 16 (while beating Roger Federer) in 2015, and his main draw defeats at the venue have all been close matches.
In 2011, Ramos lost in three sets to Alexandr Dolgopolov, while Stan Wawrinka needed two tiebreaks to see him off in 2012. In more recent years, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also required three sets to see off Ramos, while Fabio Fognini's 7-5 6-3 victory in 2016 was the biggest winning margin.
In fact, Ramos' record in quicker conditions isn't as bad as many would imagine, and I like his chances of covering the +3.5 game handicap tomorrow morning. The Exchange market for this is still forming, but if we can get towards [2.30] on the Exchange this looks solid value.
Nadal with dominant head to head record over Dimitrov
Following this match, Rafa takes a 9-1 head to head lead into his match with Grigor Dimitrov, and even though Nadal has played a number of recent matches, it would still be a shock if the Bulgarian was to add to his solitary career win over the King of Clay. Nadal is [1.26] to progress.
Giant-killer Troicki not without a chance against Del Potro
Third on the schedule is an intriguing clash, with Juan Martin Del Potro being the biggest priced favourite in Shanghai on Friday, but still at a short [1.30].
It's far from inconceivable that this week's giant-killer, Viktor Troicki, could add Del Potro to his list of scalps, having already knocked out Dominic Thiem and John Isner in the earlier rounds. My model did reflect slight value on the Serb, Troicki, but nothing particularly noteworthy.
Historical stats make Gasquet unlikely to threaten Federer
Finally, Roger Federer faces Richard Gasquet, with the Frenchman having a woeful 2-15 record against the Swiss legend, with both wins on clay, and not having beaten Roger since 2011 (the last time he won a set). Federer has won 17 consecutive sets against Gasquet. In these head to head matches, Federer has managed to hold 93.1% against Gasquet, and break him almost 30% of the time, so it is clear that Gasquet has deficiencies on both serve and return against Roger.
Given this, and the odds of [1.11], it would be a major shock if Gasquet was to win this and advance to the semi-finals. He has a terrible record against elite players, and has never won a match priced in excess of 6.00 in his entire career, having lost all 22 that he has competed in.
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