Semi final Saturday at the 2015 Western & Southern Open features three of the world’s top-four male players, who are battling for a place in Sunday’s final.
Friday was certainly a day to forget from my point of view, with a desperately poor performance from Tomas Berdych and only a marginally better one from Stan Wawrinka hampering our progress.
A foot/ankle injury may well have contributed to a dire showing from Berdych, who was never competitive against Alexandr Dolgopolov, who has proven once more how tough he is to predict this week.
And Wawrinka collapsed feebly from 4-4 in set one against Novak Djokovic, losing eight of the next nine games to slump to a tame loss against the world number one.
Novak Djokovic vs Alexandr Dolgopolov
It’s set to be another warm, sunny day in Cincy on Saturday and at around 13:00 local time (18:00 UK) in the heat of mid-day Djokovic takes on Dolgo for the fifth time in his career and third on outdoor hard.
Djokovic is roughly the same starting price today as he was at the end of March when Dolgo had his chances to beat the world number one on slower hard in Miami.
Needing to see it out in two sets the Ukrainian couldn’t do it and faded tamely away to a bagel set that day and therein lies the problem for Dolgopolov.
He can play some superb tennis for spells against the top players, but he rarely is able to sustain it for long enough to beat someone like a Djokovic, as his combined 0-10 record against Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray highlights.
Dolgopolov has managed five wins against top-five ranked opposition in his career, with two coming against the struggling Rafa Nadal and one each against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, David Ferrer and Robin Soderling.
He will need to serve at his very best to have a shot today against an opponent whose last defeat against a player ranked outside the top-70 in the world was to Xavier Malisse on grass in 2010 (the last time on hard was against Kevin Anderson in Miami in 2008).
Dolgo will of course move up considerably in the rankings on Monday – to at least number 39 – and if he beats Novak today he’ll be back inside the top-30 and have a seeded spot at the US Open.
So, there’s big incentive for Dolgopolov today, if he needed it in his second career Masters 1000 semi final (lost the first in straight sets to Federer in 2014 at Indian Wells.)
Djokovic is 33-13 in Masters semi finals and the lowest ranked player he’s ever been beaten by in one was 25-ranked David Nalbandian in the 2007 Madrid Masters when it was held on hard courts.
Against the top-five Dolgo has tended to at least start well, with a maximum of only one break separating him and his opponent in set one of his last nine matches versus top-five opponents.
And versus Djokovic on hard courts both opening sets went to tie breaks, so if The Dog does serve first the 1.92 about over 9.5 games looks decent.
Indeed, Djokovic has gone over 9.5 games in set one in 13 of his last 16 matches this season, so that price if the Ukrainian serves first really does appeal.
I wouldn’t be quite so keen if Djokovic serves first – in which case it would be no bet – but I also like there to be a tie break in the match, so the 2.90 on that is of interest too.
If you’re backing Dolgo today the 2-0 at 12.0 looks the one, with the Ukrainian surely unlikely to win it in a decider, or the 4.60 about him winning set one is not a bad option either.
Djokovic surely won’t lose this match though unless he has some of heat episode or has a terribly bad day, but the 1.10 on him hardly inspires me to rush out and back it.
Value bet: Back over 9.5 games in set one at 1.92 (if Dolgopolov serves first)