The final of the 2014 Mutua Madrid Open is all set for Sunday evening at La Caja Mágica, with Rafa Nadal looking for his third Madrid title.
The world number one let me down on Saturday by somehow contriving to blow my unders bet by one game after letting a 4-0, 15-40 lead over Roberto Bautista-Agut.
Rafa needed just one more point for the chance to serve the second set out to love and indeed once he’d lost that fifth game he still only needed to hold his own serve twice, but he failed to do that.
The final starts at 18.15 UK time on Sunday, with Rafa facing Kei Nishikori – or at least what’s left of the Japanese star.
Rafael Nadal 1.10 vs Kei Nishikori 6.75 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 18.20
Rafa is an unbackable favourite for this one, as Kei’s ability to be competitive will in all probability be severely hampered by his back problem after a gruelling battle against David Ferrer last night.
Or at least that’s the assumption given his appalling injury record, but it must be noted that after a very similar clash with Ferrer in Miami Kei came out and beat Roger Federer from a set down the very next day, so it may not be as bad as it seems for Nishikori here.
It’s not yet been clear to me that Nadal is back to his best after wins over Tomas Berdych and Bautista-Agut and if Kei is in any sort of state to compete he certainly can do.
Nishikori showed in his last meeting with Nadal in Melbourne that he can go toe-to-toe with Nadal and he should have won at least one of the three sets that day – two of which ended in tie breaks and he was a break up in at least one of them.
Yes, that was on a hard court, but it’s quick here, as it’s really clay on top of hard at altitude and Kei hit 33 clean winners against Ferrer last night, so you can hit through Nadal if you find your spots.
The match handicaps are clearly risky today, with Kei quite likely to run out of gas at some point and something like a 7-5, 6-1 result could be on the cards, so I like the set one handicap here.
Kei’s only chance you would think is to come out all guns blazing and try and get the first set under his belt then cling on, so the +2.5 games in set one at 1.80 looks like one good option here.
The second set under 9.5 games also looks likely if the match goes as expected in terms of Nishikori’s fatigue and that one is also worth considering at 1.70, as is the under 8.5 games at 2.75.
The under 94.5 total minutes is another for the shortlist at 1.87, but that is quite tight, as Rafa's win over RBA took over 100 minutes and the first set could take an hour easily if Kei makes it close.
For me, just about the best option is the set two unders, with Kei likely to have very little left by that stage.
Back under 9.5 games in set two at 1.70