The final of the 2015 Citi Open in Washington DC is all set for Sunday between Kei Nishikori and John Isner, while qualifying continues at the Rogers Cup in Montreal.
Nishikori landed our ‘value bet’ of Saturday when the ‘no tie breaks’ wager was successful in his three set semi final against Marin Cilic.
And our second wager was unlucky when Isner and Steve Johnson played out the match that I had envisaged in their semi final, culminating in a final set tie break, but the over 32.5 ‘long shot’ was foiled by a couple of games.
Kei Nishikori vs John Isner
This Washington DC final, which takes place at around 20:00 UK time (15:00 local), looks a tricky one for punters given the physical condition of both competitors.
Isner’s knee problem that I mentioned yesterday reared its head yet again in his clash with Johnson, with the American starting the match with it strapped, and clearly having a few issues in that area.
Movement has never been Isner’s strong point, so it may not be a huge issue for him, but Nishikori does rely on his and the Japanese seems to be creaking yet again.
Nishikori had the physio out for back, leg and wrist treatment during his scrappy win over Cilic on Saturday and it seems a little bit of guesswork as to what shape either man will be in today.
All told I’m not sure I like the 1.42 about Nishikori here, with a Masters 1000 in a matter of days to consider.
He does have a fine 18-2 record on outdoor hard courts at main level against players of the host nation, but his last loss was to Isner in Miami this spring.
That match was perhaps the performance of Isner’s career and as it was their only meeting to date I’m very hesitant to side with Nishikori here at a short price.
Kei has a 9-5 record in tour level finals and 7-3 in those in which he started favourite (1-2 on outdoor hard), while Isner is 10-9 in finals (7-6 on outdoor hard), and he’s won seven of his last nine.
As underdog Isner is 2-7 in main level finals and 1-5 on outdoor hard, with the one coming 11-9 in a final set tie break against Tomas Berdych in Winston-Salem in 2012.
I like the idea of focussing on set one here, with the over 10.5 games at 1.76 looking the most appealing wager in a tricky contest.
I highlighted the other day how few opening sets Nishikori has won comfortably against big servers and in all his matches this week he hasn’t won one in fewer than 10 games.
Given Isner’s serving prowess it seems likely this will go long in the opener and Big John is certainly due one, having gone under 10.5 games in his last half a dozen opening sets on tour.
Over in Montreal qualifying continues in the Rogers Cup, which is played on a fast outdoor hard Decoturf surface and ‘long shot’ backers could look to Canadian Brayden Schnur to stun Yen-Hsun Lu.
Schnur plays above himself here and did so again in a straight sets success over Ruben Bemelmans on Saturday. A repeat of that could be enough to shock Lu, who has a 3-6 record at the Rogers Cup.
Pierre Hugues-Herbert played a very nice match to beat Thanasi Kokkinakis yesterday and he looks a tempting proposition at 1.90 to beat the badly struggling Mikhail Youzhny.
The Russian managed his first win in nine matches on Saturday against John-Patrick Smith, but the latter also lost to Lleyton Hewitt last week, so I’m not sure this will amount to much in the long run.
Value bet: Back over 10.5 games in set one of Isner/Nishikori at 1.76