The semi finals are upon us on the grass of London and Halle in week 24 of the ATP Tour and I’m hoping to see one of my matches actually start today.
For the second time this week a match involving one of my best bets was cancelled due to a withdrawal and on Friday it was Alexandr Dolgopolov who was the player concerned.
I said yesterday that Dolgo was struggling with a leg injury after quitting mid-match in the doubles and it must have been a bad one, as he took no part in his scheduled clash with Grigor Dimitrov.
The four matches at Queen’s Club and Halle look like most could and should be fairly competitive and we begin the day’s play in Germany, where their beloved Roger Federer will be swooned over again, despite him being Swiss and there being a German in the other semi.
Roger Federer vs Kei Nishikori
This one should begin at around 14:00 UK time today after the Philipp Kohlschreiber/Alejandro Falla clash that should go the way of the German, who leads the career series 5-0.
It seems strange to say, but Federer is coming into this semi final match lacking in grass court practice after a bye and that withdrawal from Yen-Hsun Lu meaning he’s played one match on grass since losing to Sergiy Stakhovsky at Wimbledon last year.
And he wasn’t overly convincing in that one either, losing the opening set to Joao Sousa, who has won one match on grass in his career at tour level.
Kei has had more time on the court, with a three set win over Gael Monfils and a tricky two-setter over Steve Johnson yesterday and to me Federer looks a little bit short in the betting here at 1.45.
That price is much bigger than in the last two meetings with Kei, but that’s due to him losing both – on clay in Madrid last year and in Miami on slow hard this year.
Nishikori has the tools to be a decent grass court player, with a lot of court speed and decent variety to his game to complement a good serve and solid hitting on both wings.
Federer will have to improve a fair bit to win this one and the 2.65 on Nishikori looks the best bet in that match.
Stanislas Wawrinka vs Grigor Dimitrov
I’m happy to side with the underdog in this one as well, making it hopefully a bad day for the Swiss.
Wawrinka has shown a slight improvement on the grass this week, but his overall record is littered with odds-on losses and even after his best effort of making the Rosmalen final last year he was easily beaten by Nicolas Mahut.
This week he’s benefitted from a retirement from Marcos Baghdatis, a typically lacklustre showing from the sulky Sam Querrey and an injury-hit showing from Marinko Matosevic and this will be a big test for the Swiss.
Dimitrov comes here nice and fresh after the withdrawal of Alexandr Dolgopolov yesterday and he’ll have had his feet up watching the Wawrinka/Matosevic clash and trying to figure out the match up.
I didn’t see a great deal from Stan yesterday that would have worried Grigor and Marinko had chances to take the opening set in that one.
For me Wawrinka still has much to prove on this surface and beating Dimitrov today will go some way in that regards, but I wouldn’t be backing him at 1.58 in these conditions against an opponent who can be effective on grass.
The other semi final looks one to avoid from a betting perspective, with Feli Lopez a slight favourite to beat Radek Stepanek and at first thought he should do, but a 2-9 head-to-head hardly inspires much confidence.
They’ve never met on grass, which I would expect to favour Lopez, who has been playing very well this week, but there’s clearly something about Steps that Feli finds tough to deal with.
The overs doesn’t really appeal either at 24.5 total games, as their series has featured barely any close sets and their last tie break against each other came back in 2005.
Either or both of Kei and Grigor look like the best value on offer on what shoukd be a great day of grass court tennis at both Queen’s and Halle.
Back Nishikori to beat Federer at 2.65
Back Dimitrov to beat Wawrinka at 2.32