The last four standing at the 2015 Internazionali BNL d’Italia are all set to battle it out for spots in the final of this clay Masters 1000 on Saturday, with Stan Wawrinka, Roger Federer, David Ferrer and Novak Djokovic in action.
Djokovic by his own admission has “not been playing as well as I did in Monte-Carlo” and he was forced to a decider yet again in Rome yesterday – his seventh straight three setter in a row in the Eternal City.
That cost me my straight sets wager and it didn’t get any better later when Rafa Nadal blew numerous set points against Stan Wawrinka and ended up being outplayed by the mercurial Swiss star.
At least that was good news for my pre-tournament bet on Wawrinka at 41.0, but it was a very surprising result given all the stats on Nadal against single-handed righties.
Stanislas Wawrinka vs Roger Federer
Clearly I’ll be rooting for Wawrinka in this 19:00 UK time clash, but he is up against it once more, given the difference in rest time between he and Davis Cup team-mate Federer.
The elder Swiss finished his match around eight hours before Wawrinka yesterday and although this is a night match it still seems to hand Federer a reasonable advantage here.
On the flip side it could also be argued that Wawrinka will be the more used to the nighttime conditions, with Federer’s last two matches here being played in the day.
My outright bet on Wawrinka was based on the idea that he would spring back to form at some point and he showed a little last week in Madrid to make me believe it was possible that it could be here in Rome.
Based on last night’s second set against Nadal he certainly has done just that, but this is another tough match-up for Wawrinka, who himself admits: “It’s never easy for me to play him though, his game is not something I like.”
Not the most positive of statements ahead of a Masters 1000 semi final and looking at their respective records at this stage of a clay Masters we find that Federer has a 15-3 record, while Wawrinka’s is 3-1.
Head-to-head on clay Federer leads 3-2, with their last clay meeting going the way of Wawrinka in the Monte-Carlo final in 2014.
Federer leads the career series 15-2, but Stan has taken at least a set in their last five clashes on all surfaces and an interesting stat here is that in four of their last five the winner of set one has gone on to lose the match.
Federer started slowly against Tomas Berdych yesterday, with the Czech breaking early before slumping in fairly typical fashion against a top-10 opponent.
Berdych was pretty grumpy for most of that match due to perceived issues with the clay on Centrale, but Federer will be pleased with his backhand, which was excellent.
If both hit similar form today it should be a great spectacle for the fans and it should be tight, with a deciding set likely between the Swiss stars.
Value bet: Back over 2.5 sets at 2.40