We’ve reached the semi final stages in Brisbane and Chennai and the final in Doha in week one of the 2016 ATP World Tour on Saturday.
We managed to bag one nice-priced winner at 3.0 on Friday when Dominic Thiem defeated Marin Cilic in Brisbane to reach the semi finals there, but there was disappointment for Kei Nishikori backers against Bernard Tomic.
It wasn’t a good performance from Nishikori at all and neither was it from Lucas Pouille, who landed the set one overs against Milos Raonic, but not the tie break played in a mediocre showing from the Frenchman.
Milos Raonic vs Bernard Tomic
The first of Saturday’s matches is this 02:30 UK time start in Brisbane between Raonic and Tomic and I fancy the Canadian to come out on top here at a decent price.
Raonic was a 1.20 chance when he last played Tomic in the autumn of 2014 in similarly quick conditions at the Japan Open, yet today he’s a 1.56 shot, which seems a rather large discrepancy.
Clearly, much has changed since October 2014, but it seems to me that the layers have factored in too much of the home advantage factor to Bernie’s price here.
The pair have only played each other twice – the other was in the Hopman Cup at the start of the 2013 season – and Raonic has won both and the Canadian seems to be over the injury problems that blighted the latter stages of his 2015 season.
Tomic has a poor record against big servers, with an overall mark on outdoor hard of 9-14 and a total losing mark of 13-22 on all surfaces.
Bernie was beaten three times by Stevie Johnson last season and by Gilles Muller in Sydney a year ago and his return games won stat of 20 percent saw him in 28th position in 2015 behind the likes of Thomaz Bellucci and Viktor Troicki.
The price on Tomic may also have given too much credit for a win over what was a poor Nishikori and I’d want a bigger price than 2.43 about the Aussie against the bullets of Raonic on a fast court.
He doesn’t have a good record in the price range of 2.40 to 2.60 either, with six losses from eight main level matches, while Raonic has won eight of his last 11 as a 1.50 to 1.70 favourite.
I like the -1.5 games on Milos here at 1.74 as decent value.
Roger Federer vs Dominic Thiem
The second semi final in Brisbane sees Federer take on Thiem for the first time in his career, having spent some time practicing with the Austrian in Switzerland last year.
So, the Swiss will know all about Thiem’s game, and this should be an entertaining clash of two stylish and powerful one-handed backhands, which Federer should prevail in.
Federer seems to have recovered from the bout of flu that he supposedly was suffering from and although he was sweating a lot in his win over Grigor Dimitrov on Friday he didn’t look in any real trouble.
We haven’t had much luck with some of the performances that our short-priced favourites have produced this week, but surely Federer and Novak Djokovic can be relied upon to come up with the goods on Saturday.
Fed is rather short at 1.10, but he can be combined with Djokovic to beat Rafa Nadal in the Doha final to make a 1.31 double.
Djokovic has won eight of his last nine against Nadal and hasn’t lost to the Spaniard on a hard court since the 2013 US Open Final and I haven’t seen too much from Rafa to lead me to think he’ll buck that trend on Saturday.
There are concerns over an arm injury with Djokovic revealing that he has some pain that is affecting his serve and that may be one reason why he’s been below his best this week, but we are in the opening week of the season.
Doha always looked as if it would be another Nadal/Djokovic final and so it’s proved, with this one being the 47th meeting of a series tied currently at 23-23.
Over in Chennai my outright on Aljaz Bedene is still going after the Brit made hard work of beating Ramkumar Ramanathan on Friday and he takes on Borna Coric for a place in the final at 13:00 UK time approx.
Coric had a real marathon match on Friday against Roberto Bautista-Agut that ended after midnight local time and that alone puts me off the Croatian at a price like 1.51.
I’m still not convinced that Coric has the physical stamina to win tournaments and he might well pay for that two-and-a-half hour grind with RBA in this second career meet with Bedene.
The Brit has a grinding style too and it’ll be a test of fitness for Coric on Saturday that I wouldn’t bet on him at 1.51 to pass.
Long shot backers might look to Benoit Paire at 4.30 against his mate Stan Wawrinka in the other Chennai semi final at 11:30 UK time, but the Swiss has won five of the six matches he’s played against Paire and it’d be more in hope than any real belief if I was backing the Frenchman here.
You never quite know with Paire, as he does often play better against the big names, but I would expect Wawrinka’s fine run in recent years in Chennai to continue.
Sure thing: Back Federer and Djokovic at 1.31
Value bet: Back Raonic -1.5 games to beat Tomic at 1.74