Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are both in action at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Friday, as both former world number ones look to advance to the semi finals of the BNP Paribas Open.
Thursday’s bet was void when Bernard Tomic decided that he had a toothache and a bad back, so he withdrew from the tournament, which allowed Novak Djokovic to progress to the semi finals where he’ll face Andy Murray.
I said yesterday that Tomic had played a lot of tennis in the last few weeks and it was no real surprise to hear that the Aussie had opted to sit this one out.
Both of today’s remaining quarter finals are day matches, with Federer taking on Berdych at 19:00 UK time and following that one at 21:00 UK time or later it’s Nadal and Milos Raonic on centre stage on Stadium 1.
Milos Raonic vs Rafael Nadal
The day conditions will suit the Canadian in this one, with the balls flying quicker through the air at 2pm local time than later at night and he could well give Rafa a run for his money in this one.
Conditions here are about as good as it gets for Nadal, with the slow, gritty hard courts taking his top spin and defensive slice well, but he hasn’t been tested yet away from the clay and he may well be vulnerable if Raonic has a good day on serve.
Raonic for once didn’t serve very well in his last match here against another Spaniard Tommy Robredo, with only 49 percent of his first serves in play and just six aces, and he’ll need to do a lot better than that to beat Nadal on Friday.
The fact that he defeated Robredo 6-3, 6-2 without any real advantage on serve is a real boost for Raonic though and although Robredo is a different kettle of fish to Nadal I get the feeling that this should be Milos’s best chance against Rafa so far.
Rafa has won all five of their meetings so far, and the first four were pretty easy for the Spaniard, but the most recent one in Miami a year ago was tighter and the Canadian has improved since then, while Nadal has struggled with injury, fitness and a lack of court time.
Last time out Nadal faced a poor version of Gilles Simon, who suggested that he was lacking energy and called it “a particularly bad match”, which I’d say was a fair assessment of his performance.
Indeed, Nadal hasn’t faced much this week so far, with Igor Sijsling and Donald Young both offering very little, and I’m happy to take a chance on a fast start from Raonic here at odds-against.
The world number six is a 2.35 shot to win the opener – as he did in that Miami clash a year ago – and he could catch Rafa a little cold while the weather is still hot.
It’s forecast to be around 30C when they begin play and that should help Raonic’s serve and if that’s back to it’s best he can take the opener at least.
Value bet: Back Raonic to win set one at 2.35