The semi finals of the Shanghai Rolex Masters are set for Saturday at the Qi Zhong Tennis Centre as the Asian swing draws to a close in China.
Friday didn’t go quite the way I had anticipated when Tomas Berdych collapsed quite spectacularly against Gilles Simon in their quarter final.
Berdych was always behind the eight ball against an inspired – and quite clearly not injured – Simon, but after grabbing the second set from the Frenchman I had hopes that he would go on and dominate the third against a potentially fatigued opponent.
In fact the opposite happened and Simon stormed to a 6-0 set. Not bad for a man who supposedly couldn’t serve or hit a backhand due to injury.
Simon goes through to face Feli Lopez, while the match of the day is likely to be the clash between the current numbers one and two in the live world rankings.
Novak Djokovic vs Roger Federer
The 36th main level meeting between his pair could be a tight one, as is the career series as a whole, with Federer leading 18-17 at the moment.
Indeed, the four previous times they’ve met in 2014 have resulted in two wins apiece, with Federer winning in Dubai and Monaco and Djokovic prevailing at Wimbledon and Indian Wells.
Novak is on an unbeaten run of 28 matches in China at the moment and he clearly loves it here, but the fast conditions would certainly give Roger a very decent chance if he’s on his game.
It’s not always the case these days of course, but against Djokovic in a Masters 1000 semi final, having regained the world number two spot from Rafa Nadal, I would expect a performance from the Swiss.
He produced one in the second set of what was initially a keenly contested match with Julien Benneteau on Friday and applied a bagel second set to Benny after an opener that went to a breaker.
Djokovic was made to work reasonably hard by David Ferrer, as one would expect, but the Spaniard was always up against it in these conditions and was outgunned by the Serbian after another tight first set.
This pair tend to play tie breaks fairly often, with four of their last eight meetings having at least one tie break in them and the over 0.5 tie breaks at 2.23 could be a touch of value.
Federer has also won the opening set in six of their last nine meetings and the 2.70 about that happening again looks the most tempting of all the bets, with several others appealing.
The +1.5 sets about Federer at 1.72 is decent, as is the 2.38 about over 2.5 sets, with Djokovic only having beaten the Swiss in straight sets once in their last nine meetings.
That brings the 2-1 in to play as the best bet if you want to back Djokovic and find the 1.33 too skinny. The 2-1 to the Serb is a more palatable 3.45 shot.
Only once has Roger beaten Novak having lost the opening set and that was in Dubai back in week nine of this season.
Djokovic has come from a set down to beat Federer in three of his last four wins over the 33-year-old and I’m happy to side with the Swiss to make a quick start here, rather than to win the match outright at 3.25.
Back Federer to win set one at 2.70