The first title of the new ATP World Tour season is up for grabs on Saturday in Doha, while there’s semi final action in Brisbane and Chennai.
David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych will fight it out for the Qatar ExxonMobil Open crown at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex, while several other top-10 stars are in action in India and Australia.
Ivo Karlovic and David Ferrer teamed up to land my value bet of Friday, as my 2.45 shot of over 10.5 games in set one of their Doha semi final eased home after Kei Nishikori had won too easily against Bernard Tomic for my long shot wager to be successful.
My final bet of the day was another success for my ‘sure thing’, as Tomas Berdych cruised through to the Doha final at the expense of Andreas Seppi and did it in the required straight sets.
Play gets underway overnight in Brisbane, where my first bet of Saturday takes place.
Roger Federer vs Grigor Dimitrov
The Bulgarian says: “I like my odds,” when considering his chances in this 05:00 UK time in the Brisbane International, but I’m not too sure that I agree with him.
Based on his displays in his two prior clashes with Federer I’d be looking at a price of about 5.0 at least before I’d consider it a worthwhile wager for Dimitrov to take down Federer.
Both of those career clashes came in Basel and I suppose it could be the case that Dimitrov felt a little overawed taking Federer and his home crowd on at the same time and maybe at that late stage of the season he wasn’t quite there physically.
Dimitrov was a little fortunate to survive his opening match here in Brisbane when Jeremy Chardy produced two double faults from match point up and Federer too had to dig quite deep against John Millman first up here.
Both men had comfortable quarter final wins, with Federer dropping just the one game against James Duckworth and Dimitrov easing past Martin Klizan and the Swiss is sure to up his game still further when faced with the threat of young pretender Dimitrov.
Federer has won 75 percent of his career semi finals and 10 of his 12 last season, with losses to Rafa Nadal in Melbourne and Marin Cilic in New York the exceptions, while Dimitrov has won six of his 14 at main level.
It could go to three sets, but I expect Fed to be up for this, as he tends to be when faced with the threat of the best of the younger generation, and minus 1.5 games on the Swiss is my ‘sure thing’ today at 1.35.
Tomas Berdych vs David Ferrer
The first title of 2015 should go the way of Berdych, who resumes his rivalry with Ferrer quickly after beating the Spaniard in an exhibition in Thailand a week ago.
Conditions in Doha, despite being cooler at 18:00 local time (15:00 UK time) when this match takes place, should favour the heavier hitting of Berdych over Ferrer, who was made to struggle all the way by Karlovic on Friday afternoon.
In contrast, Berdych is yet to drop serve in Doha this week in a series of easy wins and his last two main tour clashes with Ferrer have resulted in fairly comfortable successes for the Czech.
The Berdman is playing with a lot of confidence right now and seems to be benefitting from ‘new coach bounce’, after linking up with the fresh ideas of Dani Vallverdu and I take him to get the better of Ferrer again.
The minus 3.5 games on Berdych at 1.87 looks a decent choice here, with the Czech more than capable of a convincing win on Saturday.
Kei Nishikori vs Milos Raonic
It’s back to Brisbane for my long shot for Saturday and it could be worth siding with Nishikori to defeat Raonic with a bit to spare in their 03:00 UK time semi final.
Nishikori has had much the better of the pair’s five prior meetings, with a 4-1 career lead over the Canadian and the way he’s started out this season the Japanese star could nullify The Missile again here.
Raonic was mediocre at best in a very scratchy win over Sam Groth last time out in which he didn’t create a single break point and any repeat of that level should see Nishikori ease past the big man if he himself continues with the form he displayed against Bernard Tomic.
Not too many of their recent sets against each other have gone to tie breaks, with only four of the last 12 ending in breakers, and under 20.5 games at 3.35 could come in if Kei is at his very best.
Sure thing: Back Federer –1.5 games to beat Dimitrov at 1.35
Value bet: Back Berdych –3.5 games to beat Ferrer at 1.87
Long shot: Back under 20.5 total games in Nishikori/Raonic at 3.35