The last two places in the semi-finals of the 2014 Sony Open will be contested on Thursday at the Crandon Park Tennis Centre.
And I’m hoping for a change of fortune after Wednesday’s wager on Kei Nishikori to push Roger Federer over the total games mark in set one proved to be the only one of three sets that didn’t go over that total, as Kei produced an amazing comeback win.
There can’t have been many punters siding with the Japanese when he was a set and a break down, but he produced much better second and third sets compared with the poor stuff seen in his win over David Ferrer.
Kei has a day off now to recuperate and tonight’s feature match at 23.00 UK time pits the world number one against ‘The Missile’.
Rafael Nadal 1.11, Milos Raonic 6.75 – BET and WATCH live on Unibet TV from 23.05 GMT
The Sony Open is one of the very few tournaments that Nadal is yet to win and the Spaniard is sure to want to add yet another Masters 100 crown to his already rather full trophy cabinet.
He faces the awkward game of the Canadian serving specialist today in what could be quite a tricky encounter should Raonic have one of his best days from the service line.
Milos’s problem will be breaking the Nadal serve and that, as has been mentioned on many occasions, is where it tends to go wrong for Raonic when he comes up against the elite.
In his four meetings against Raonic the Spaniard has won all four and is yet to drop a set or even be pushed closer than 7-5 in the eight sets they’ve contested, which suggests that this is not going to be a match-up in which Milos will be that competitive.
The Canadian’s recent record against lefties is good, with five wins from his last six – but predictably the one he lost was a heavy defeat to Nadal in the final of his home tournament in Montreal.
Against top-five ranked players Milos is generally found wanting, with a 2-11 record and both wins coming over Andy Murray. His return game simply does not put enough pressure on the top guys to hold their serves.
Rafa is always at the top or thereabouts of the returning stats and I would expect him to take control of this match once he gets a read on that serve and Alex Dolgopolov showed at Indian Wells that these slow outdoor conditions do make it very possible to defuse the big servers in this swing of the tour.
Nadal has enjoyed some very comfortable wins so far this week against Denis Istomin and Fabio Fognini and while he didn’t have to do a great deal in the latter match he did show some very decent form in the former.
He certainly could be tested more today than he has been so far, but Raonic would have to serve off the charts to get close in these conditions, which leads me to the minus 4.5 games on Nadal at 2.06.
The 1.38 on 2-0 looks very solid for short priced backers, but on a slow hard court Rafa should win comfortably.
Best Bet: Back Nadal –4.5 games to beat Raonic at 2.06