It’s semi-final Friday at the Crandon Park Tennis Centre, as the remaining four men face off in the Sony Open for a place in the final of this Masters 1000 event.
The frustrating sequence of single game losses continued last night when Rafa Nadal took a set to get going against Milos Raonic and the Spaniard failed by one game to make the minus 4.5 handicap bet in a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over the Canadian.
Opening proceedings on Stadium Court at 19.00 UK time on Friday are the three-time former champion and the surprise semi finalist from Japan.
Kei Nishikori 6.00 vs Novak Djokovic 1.12 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 19.05
Nishikori has looked down and out in each of the last two rounds here at the Sony Open after saving four match points against David Ferrer and coming from a set and a break down to defeat Roger Federer and it will be an even grander achievement should he top that by taking down Novak too.
As with Federer, Nishikori did win his most recent prior encounter with his more illustrious opponent, which in the case of Djokovic was indoors at the Swiss Open in Basel at the end of the 2011 season.
He also came from a set down to win that one, as he did against Federer here on Wednesday and even with a day off to recover from that match I’m still holding some severe reservations about Kei’s physical conditioning.
I was very surprised that he was able to come back from a three-hour plus battle with Ferrer in the heat and humidity and then return to take down Federer, but to come back and do it against the game’s master defender on a hard court is a different proposition.
Djokovic was embroiled in controversy in his quarter-final win over Andy Murray when he reached over the net to his opponent’s side to finish off an important point – and then opted for the ignorance defence afterwards.
I find it astounding that a world number one and multiple Slam winner doesn’t know such a simple rule, but the umpire should have called it and in all honesty I don’t think it had much effect on the final outcome of the match.
It was quite a tight affair between Novak and Andy, but Murray fell away at the vital time and on these slow Miami courts it’s tough to have the consistency required to punch regular holes in the Djokovic defences.
It’s not out of the question that Kei with a day’s rest can take a set at 2.80 and if he does make a real match of it that would be a big step for the Japanese towards ridding himself of the ‘sicknote’ tag that he’s unfortunately been labelled with.
The link up with another of these so-called ‘super-coaches’ in Michael Chang could well be the difference here, as the diminutive American was not shy of some very long matches himself, as his 1989 French Open triumph showed, and he may well have been instrumental in Kei’s improvement in that area.
I can’t see Novak losing this match, but as with the Federer quarter final, Kei can make an impression for a while, so there’s a bit of value on the 2-1 Djokovic win here at 4.10.
The concern is Kei coming out flat after his efforts so far and I think it’s worth a bigger priced bet rather than the various handicaps – all of which could be foiled quickly if Nishikori has hit the wall.
Back Djokovic to beat Nishikori 2-1 at 4.10