The penultimate ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event is down to the final eight, a spot in the semi-final hangs in the balance. Tennis betting odds are already in swing, so join us as we breakdown the quarterfinal line-up and serve up our choice tennis picks.
Tomas Berdych -350 vs. Gilles Simon +275
The Czech veteran was in superb form last week in Beijing and he’s taken that momentum into Shanghai to reach the quarterfinals. Having seeds drop like flies out of his section – Nadal, Wawrinka, Raonic, Isner and Gulbis all exited early – has helped his chances immensely: his outright win odds have shortened from +1400 to +450 (Bet365 or thereabouts depending on which betting site you use). Indeed, he’s the second favourite now behind Novak Djokovic to win it all. This gives a sense of just how difficult a task Gilles Simon is faced with against Berdych, not least the improbability he’d win the tournament – he’s listed as one of several long shots at +1600 to win outright.
Berdych enters the quarterfinals as the prohibitive favourite at -350 to win outright. He has form in Shanghai. He’s not dropped a set en route, powering past Richard Gasquet (6-3, 6-1) and Ivo Karlovic (6-3, 6-4). But tennis bettors can’t take his favouritism for granted.
It may surprise some tennis bettors but Simon presents Berdych his toughest challenge yet of the tournament, an impression that makes his +275 underdog tennis odds rather disingenuous. Simon leads the head-to-head with Berdych 5-3 lifetime, which includes a 4-1 record on hard courts. Simon is a tough customer, dogged and gritty. He might not blow his opponents off the court, but he’ll chase down every single ball and force opponents to beat him. Berdych certainly will need to be in top form to beat Simon.
Simon is flush off a semi-final appearance in Tokyo (l. to Raonic). He’s carried the momentum to Shanghai, carving a run into the quarterfinals at the expense of Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Stanislas Wawrinka and Malek Jaziri. Indeed, his come-from-behind win over fourth seed Wawrinka was spectacular (5-7, 7-5, 6-4). He even trailed in the third set 0-3 before winning 6-4. If Simon can beat Wawrinka, he can beat Berdych, which makes this a tougher matchup to handicap. Undoubtedly, Berdych should win – he’s the higher ranked player and is fighting to clinch a spot in Shanghai, but don’t be surprised if Simon pulls off the upset.
Tennis Free Picks: Simon +275
Youzhny +138 vs. Lopez -175
Feliciano Lopez masterminded the upset over Rafael Nadal in the second round, beating his compatriot in straight sets. Admittedly, Nadal was playing with appendicitis, a condition that limited his ability to compete – his first serve percentage was low and overall his shot making lacked its usual wrath and penetration. That’s not to take anything away from Lopez, as he backed up his big win with another scalp, taking out John Isner in straight sets (6-3, 6-4) to reach the quarterfinals.
Russian veteran Mikhail Youzhny reaches the quarterfinals with Gulbis, Dodig and Monaco. He’s expended a lot of energy in his last two matches after being forced to go the distance. Given the stellar cast that descended on Shanghai, Youzhny coasted under the radar – an unlikely tennis pick to reach the quarters. Yet here he is with a good shot to reach the semis.
Of all the quarterfinal matches on the tennis-betting menu, this is the most ambiguous one. Both have a viable shot to reach the semis. If there were something to tip the scale, it would be form on the season – Lopez is 33-22 this season and has a semi-final appearance at the Rogers Cup to underscore his -175 tennis odds. Youzhny, by contrast, has been up-and-down this season. He’s only 13-19 this season. What’s more, he trails 4-2 lifetime to Lopez, which includes a defeat in Madrid earlier this season.
Tennis Free Picks: Lopez -175
Djokovic -900 vs. Ferrer +550
Just as the tennis betting outlook for this matchup plainly indicates: Ferrer is a long shot to reach the semis. Of all the players in the final eight, he’s the largest underdog at +550 tennis odds. Nobody can take issue with the way odds makers have cast this match on the tennis odds page. It’s underscored by Djokovic’s overwhelming 12-5 lifetime head-to-head edge over Ferrer, which includes a run of six wins in a row. Djokovic also owns a 9-2 edge on hard courts. The last time Ferrer beat Djokovic was at the 2012 ATP World Tour Finals in London. Arguably, Ferrer was enjoying one of his best seasons then.
Djokovic’s path to the quarters hasn’t been entirely without incident. Although he beat unheralded Dominic Thiem in straight sets, it was a highly competitive clash. In the R16, up-and-coming Mikhail Kukushkin took a set off him. So it’s not been smooth sailing for Djokovic.
Ferrer, meanwhile, has gone the distance in each match, twice coming back from a set down against Klizan and Murray. Ferrer is chasing valuable points to qualify for the World Tour Finals in London this season while Djokovic is chasing his 20th career Masters title and third Shanghai Masters in a row. Each has motivation to win this match, intangibles hard to quantify. More likely than not, Djokovic will win this clash. However, Ferrer is not a player to take lightly, even against an opponent he’s enjoyed nominal success over the years.
Tennis Free Picks: Djokovic -900
Federer -700 vs. Benneteau +450
Roger Federer is playing in his first tournament since the US Open. His rustiness showed in his opening match against Leonardo Mayer, who forced the maestro to three sets and very nearly beat him. The early crisis averted, Federer advanced into the quarterfinals behind a straightforward 6-3, 6-4 win over Bautista Agut.
Julien Benneteau reaches the quarterfinals behind three tough matches. He was forced the distance by wild card Ze Zhang in his opening match. In the second round he took out Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets, a sleeper tennis pick in many tennis-betting circles. Then he defeated rising American star Jack Sock 6-3, 6-4.
Federer leads the head-to-head 5-2 over Benneteau, but Benneteau leads the head-to-head on hard courts 2-1, which includes a win over Federer last season in Rotterdam. Benneteau isn’t without a reasonable shot in this match, despite his large +450 tennis odds to mastermind the upset. The sentimental tennis pick however is Federer at his runaway -700 tennis odds.
Tennis Free Picks: Federer -700