Saturday was a perfect day for my best bets with both wagers proving successful on the grass of Halle.
Tommy Haas made sure our +1.5 sets wager was a winner by taking the first set over Roger Federer and I was correct to be circumspect about that one by not being tempted into the outright win on the German, as Federer fought back to win in three sets.
My second bet was also a winner but, with hindsight, I perhaps should have been more confident about Mikhail Youzhny’s chances against Richard Gasquet, as the Russian was a comfortable straight sets winner and didn’t need the +1.5 sets start.
The bad news for Youzhny is that he faces nemesis Federer in the final, against whom the Russian has a 0-14 head-to-head record, and the Swiss won twice in the grass court swing last year without dropping a set.
Federer was a comfortable 6-1, 6-4 winner in Halle 12 months ago at the semi final stage and an even easier 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 victor on the grass at Wimbledon, so Youzhny’s hopes can’t be high as he prepares for his first ever final on grass. Indeed, the match against Gasquet was Youzhny’s first semi final on the green stuff since way back in 2003 when he was beaten by Federer here in Halle.
By way of contrast, Federer will be taking part in his 17th grass court final, having won 12 of the previous 16. But he has lost three of the last four.
If it wasn’t for the awful head-to-head record I would fancy Youzhny to get at least a set, but it must be in his head that he’s taken just three sets from 35 against Federer and the patterns of play clearly don’t suit the Russian in this match-up.
Federer is well aware that he’s been beaten by thirty-somethings in Haas and Lleyton Hewitt in the final here in his last two appearances and he won’t want to make it a hat-trick, and certainly not to an opponent he’s never previously been beaten by.
There’s not much value in the 1.11 about the Federer victory today, but I do like the idea of taking the correct score in this one with the Swiss 2-1 available to back at around 3.65.
Over in Queen’s they’ve brought the final forward due to the threat of more rain in London to 12.15pm when Andy Murray takes on Marin Cilic. I can’t see the Croatian proving any more of a threat than he usually is to Murray, who holds an 8-1 career lead over Cilic and I would expect Murray to win without too many problems and make it the perfect Wimbledon warm-up for the Scot.
Best Bet: Back Federer to beat Youzhny 2-1 at 3.65