It is semi final Saturday in Montreal, as Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray look to seal their spots in the 2015 Coupe Rogers final.
And it was Djokovic who won one and lost one of my bets yesterday on another tricky night for punters when he went past the set one overs mark in my ‘value bet’ but at the same time lost the ‘sure thing’ wager.
I said yesterday that it’s tough to predict Ernests Gulbis right now and he showed it again by initially falling behind in the opener, but won 12 of the last 16 points to take the set and went on to have match points before falling away.
Kei Nishikori backers would have been pleased with his fairly routine win over Rafa Nadal, but in the end I chose the wrong ‘long shot’ with over 10.5 in set one landing in the Djokovic match, but 2-1 to Nishikori failing.
I’m sure plenty of bettors would have had Nishikori straight in that one and it was a delight to see the Japanese playing some fine attacking tennis to dismantle the Spaniard though.
Novak Djokovic vs Jeremy Chardy
After surviving those match points against an inspired Gulbis this 20:00 UK time start (15:00 local) should be more straightforward for the Serb, who has a perfect record against Chardy.
Nine times the pair have clashed and nine times Novak has won and he’s yet to drop a set against the Frenchman in a 22-0 score line.
Chardy deserves enormous credit for hanging in, fighting back, and beating John Isner last night, saving seven match points in the process, but Djokovic is the last opponent that Chardy would like in his first Masters semi final.
Chardy can cause damage with his serve and forehand against the best, with wins over Roger Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro to his name, but against master defenders like Djokovic and Andy Murray he struggles.
The Frenchman will rise to number 27 in the world and has surely earned a seeded spot at the US Open this week, so it’s been amazing for him, but surely his game can’t stand up to that of the world number one.
The 28-year-old from Pau, near the Spanish border, tends to make too many errors and lacks the patience to apply much in the way of pressure to Djokovic and it’s telling that he hasn’t taken Novak past 10 games in any of their last 15 sets.
Djokovic is 42-2 against Frenchmen on outdoor hard courts at main level, with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s shock win over a lacklustre Djokovic being the only win for France since the same player beat the Serb in the 2010 Australian Open.
I mentioned Novak’s stunning record as a short-priced favourite on outdoor hard yesterday and today will be his 31st semi final at Masters level on a hard court and 28th outdoors.
He’s won 20 and lost seven so far and the lowest ranked player he’s lost to in that time was Del Potro (ranked 11) at Indian Wells in 2013.
Chardy has won as a 6.50 underdog or bigger twice in his career (the Federer and Del Potro wins) and he was a 14.8 shot that day against Delpo, but this is even tougher and I’d be amazed if he won this match (barring injury).
The market looks about right to me here and the only bet that looks decent is a ‘sure thing’ on -4.5 games on Djokovic, which has been successful the last four times they’ve met over best-of-three sets.
Sure thing: Back Djokovic -4.5 games at 1.33