It’s semi final Saturday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, with three of the world’s top four in action today.
Friday’s wager on Milos Raonic to win the opening set over Rafa Nadal was unfortunate, as the Canadian did win the match, but he began slowly and rather nervously and only started to play well after about an hour or so of the contest.
Those that took more of a chance on the Canadian and backed him to win the match would have profited greatly after a few nervy moments – notably when Raonic saved three match points in the second set tie break against Rafa Nadal.
But after a three-hour marathon Raonic came through and goes on to face another former world number one at around 21:00 UK time tonight.
Milos Raonic vs Roger Federer
It was a fine mental effort from Raonic to record his first ever career win over Nadal on Friday, as he didn’t start well and had to really battle through a patch of pretty mediocre form to grind out the win.
The Canadian’s serve improved set-by-set yesterday, with his first serve percentage and ace count increasing as the match went on and to out battle Nadal in these conditions is no mean feat.
Granted, it may not have been a peak Nadal, but Raonic won’t care and he won’t be the only one glad that he was able to see that match through.
Federer would surely prefer to play Raonic than Nadal given the career records involved and the Swiss brings an 8-1 series lead over Raonic into today’s match, as opposed to a 10-23 mark against Nadal.
And the Swiss was in the kind of form on Friday that makes him a decent favourite to increase that head-to-head to 9-1 over Raonic after a destruction of Tomas Berdych that evoked memories of a decade ago from Federer.
Bouncing around the Indian Wells court and taking Berdych apart 6-3, 6-0 suggests that he is not in the frame of mind to lose to the Canadian today and it could certainly be suggested that Fed was less than committed in his only loss to Raonic.
That came indoors in Bercy at a time when he’d won Basel the week before and had his sights set on the World Tour Finals, so I don’t think Fed was too upset at that particular loss.
This is different, with Federer not playing Miami next week and having not played Davis Cup either his focus is surely set fast on winning this title.
Raonic is likely to be a little flat after that grind against Nadal, while Federer was on court for only 68 minutes against Berdych and it will take a huge effort for Milos to back up that Nadal win with another here.
When Federer has beaten Raonic he’s done it by at least three games in each of his last five victories over the Canadian and the minus 2.5 games on Fed here at 1.66 looks the one to me.
Raonic has never been able to break the Federer serve often enough in their career series and should Federer serve as well as he did against Berdych and play similarly off the ground the minus 4.5 games at 3.30 could be viable too.
Back Federer -2.5 games to beat Raonic at 1.66