Paire didn’t look like he was going to get through the first set of his semi final with Llodra never mind make the final. Llodra had been virtually unplayable this week and that continued in that first set. early in the set Paire seemed to be in pain and called the medics. Llodra took the set and continued to look strong in the second. However in the 4th game at 40-0 on his own serve Llodra’s mind seemed to “tune out”. He was broken and that was enough to give Paire the set. In the third set Llodra wasn’t competing and limped out weakly 1-6 having his serve broken a further 3 times.
Paire has played some excellent tennis this week and fully deserved his place in the semi final but you have to feel Llodra gave him a lot of help to reach the final.
Gasquet had a tough match against Monfils in the second round. Monfils was another player looking as though he was about to retire but came back to take the second set as if nothing was wrong. Gasquet was far too solid in their third set though. Benneteau and Nieminen both pushed Gasquet to three sets and he has yet to win a second set this week.
Gasquet has started the season very well and has won 13 of the 14 matches he has played. His only defeat was to Tsonga in the 4th round of the Australian Open.
I’m not sure what physical problem Paire had in the semi final but it seemed to disappear when he started winning. Perhaps it was a Murray-like “injury”. If it doesn’t raise its head again today then this should be a close match and I won’t be surprised to see 3 sets.
Gasquet is too short at 1.33 so I will be starting with a lay but I have to favour him to take the title.
In Zagreb we have Cilic and Melzer in the final.
As Melzer was losing his opening set of the week 1-6 to Devvarman I doubt many people expected him to still be around on the final day. He needed a tie break in the second set but hasn’t lost a set since beating Rosol and Robin Haase in straight sets.
Cilic knocked out defending champion Youzhny in the semi final having had fairly uneventful earlier rounds. Youzhny took the opening set before suffering some sort of injury ( I didn’t watch the match so not sure what the issue was). Cilic seems to have made hard work of taking the match.
Cilic leads the head to heads 6-2. When they have played on hard courts the sets have been close with a single break between them.
As Cilic is in front of his home crowd he is rightly favourite but 1.29 is crazily low in a final against a player whose best surface is indoor hard courts.
Cilic has played 7 finals in the last 2 years and won 3 of them. Melzer has played just 1 final in the same period which was when he beat Raonic in Memphis last February on an indoor hard court.
I will be laying Cilic at the start. He really ought to take the match with home advantage but it won’t be easy. I am certain we will see a higher price for a decent trade.