Rome 2012, Thursday

Gasquet v Murray:

Head to heads are 3-3. Murray has won their last 2 matches with one of those being on clay at the French Open 2010.

Gasquet has been in good form. In his last 3 tournaments he reached the 4th round in Miami losing to Djokovic, the final in Estoril losing to Del Potro and the 3rd round last week losing to Federer. In the first round this week he beat Melzer in straight sets.

Murray beat Nalbandian in the last round but needed 3 sets. He pulled out of Madrid last week with a back problem and he seemed to be feeling that against Fat Dave.

A fully fit Murray would be expected to beat Gasquet relatively easily but if he is suffering with his back then Gasquet is a player who will be able to take advantage. On clay the Frenchman is able to find amazing angles especially with his back hand and Murray will need all his chasing ability to deal with them.

Murray looked good in the first set against Nalbandian and he will obviously be keen to repeat that form in the early stages. Not a great deal of value at 1.39 with the uncertainty about his back.

I will be watching the early games to see how he is moving although it is likely to be the second set before anything becomes apparent. If he seems ok I will hope to grab a price above 1.70 on Murray.

Update: Murray started fairly well and created a lot of chances but wasted so many break points. He finally got one. Murray served for the set and was broken. The set went to a tie break which Murray played superbly and won 7-1.

In set 2 Murray switched off and soon found himself 1-5 down. He pulled a break back but it was too little too late. In the third he was holding his side  ( he always finds something that hurts when he’s losing). He was broken in his last 2 service games.

Gasquet won 6-7, 6-3, 6-2.


Ivanovic v Sharapova:

Sharapova leads the head to heads 4-2. They each have 1 win due to the other player retiring including their most recent meeting when Ivanovic retired at Indian Wells in March.

Both players   are former world number 1’s who have found some of their old form in recent months. This should be a great match.

Sharapova started slowly against McHale in the last round. To be fair the American was playing well above her normal level but it needed a talk with her coach to get things back on track. From 1-4 down she came back to win the set 7-5.

Ivanovic has been very consistent this season and it has taken strong players to trouble her.

I have to favour Sharapova in this one although I think it will be close. As the set or match nears its end she will be mentally stronger.

1.58 is not a million miles away from being correct IMO although for me value kicks in around 1.90 to 2.00 .

Update: Sharapova started badly and went 2 breaks of serve down. She pulled one back and as Ivanovic served for the first set Sharapova broke again. The set went to a tie break. Ivanovic managed to get a mini break ahead but was again pulled back. Sharapova took the set.

The second set saw more breaks than holds. Ivanovic had a 3-1 lead but 6 straight games from Sharapova won the set and the match.

Sharapova won 7-6, 6-3.

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