Sunday is finals day in week six’s three tournaments on the ATP World Tour in Rotterdam, Sao Paulo and Memphis.
I said yesterday that the Tomas Berdych vs Gilles Simon match would either be a bludgeoning win for the Czech or a really tough match and because I opted for the latter it was, of course, the former.
Berdych gave Simon a right old shellacking and still had a few minutes to spare before the hour mark was up in that Rotterdam semi final.
But the rest of the day went very well, with my 3.46 ‘long shot’ providing a nice winner when Stan Wawrinka and Pablo Cuevas both won their respective matches and covered the handicaps in the process.
Wawrinka edged out Milos Raonic in two breakers in Rotterdam, while Cuevas was too good for Santi Giraldo on the day in Sao Paulo.
That was complemented by the expected over total games in Memphis between Kei Nishikori and Sam Querrey and those who went bigger and took my advice of 2-1 to the Japanese would have enjoyed a nice 3.85 winner in that one when Nishikori squeezed through to the final.
Tomas Berdych vs Stan Wawrinka
This 14:30 UK time final in Rotterdam could well offer some value on Wawrinka, with Berdych so often found wanting when the pressure is on in big matches.
Berdych hammered the opposition en route to the final in Doha and simply didn’t show in the final against David Ferrer and this has a similar feel about it with the Czech made favourite on the basis of his crushing wins this week.
The Czech has lost his last five matches in a row against Wawrinka and was thrashed by the Swiss in their last meeting, which was also on indoor hard at the O2 at the end of last season.
Too often we see Berdych struggle to impose himself against top opposition in big matches and I can’t have him as any value as favourite today. Berdych's record in main level finals is just 10-16, with only one win in his last five, while his opponent today has a 8-9 mark and has won his last four.
The Berdman’s opponents have allowed him to play his own game so far, but that won’t be the case on Sunday and if Wawrinka serves well he could represent great value as underdog.
Wawrinka won’t allow Berdych the time on the ball that Simon, Andreas Seppi and a below par Gael Monfils gave him and that head-to-head record will give the Swiss added confidence here.
Luca Vanni vs Pablo Cuevas
Vanni is certainly a surprise finalist in Sao Paulo, with the 29-year-old Italian having a 0-2 record at tour level before this week in Brazil that’s seen him win six matches so far from qualifying.
The Italian has impressed with his calm temperament in the face of what has been some vociferous support for some of his opponents from the sparse, but noisy, Sao Paulo crowd.
He did it again last night against home favourite Joao Souza after beating two other Brazilians in qualies and he deserves his shot at what will obviously be his first ATP World Tour final.
Cuevas will be a tough nut to crack though in his third ATP World Tour final since the start of July and his eighth in all in the last 11 months.
Vanni reached one Challenger final last year, but otherwise his experience is in Futures and it will be interesting to see how his temperament holds up on Sunday.
He’s barely been broken all week in the main draw, with his serve holding up well, which leads me to the over 18.5 total games at 1.40 as my ‘sure thing’ for today.
Cuevas should win this of course, but he’s plenty short enough at 1.14, and he’ll do very well to finish this in two quick sets.
Kei Nishikori vs Kevin Anderson
When I write about Nishikori it’s rare that the word ‘injury’ isn’t in the preview somewhere and this time it’s a blister on his left toe that’s the issue – or at least the one that we know about at the moment.
I said yesterday that he would probably have to go long to beat Sam Querrey and a nigh on two-and-three-quarter-hour battle with Big Sam will have taken it’s toll on Kei’s brittle body.
The positive for Nishikori is that he’s not playing this coming week, so he should be able to give it his all at 21:00 UK time tonight when he meets Anderson for the second time in his career.
The first was a long time ago and not relevant today, but this week has shown once again that Nishikori doesn’t break the big servers often enough to avoid making life difficult for himself.
His amazing record in deciding sets and the oft-seen choking of Anderson suggests that Nishikori is the wise bet at 3.80 to win 2-1, with Kei having won 18 of his last 20 third set deciders in completed matches.
Nishikori broke Querrey only once in three sets and Austin Krajicek and Ryan Harrison only three times in three sets and Anderson has been broken only once in total all week so far.
Over 0.5 tie breaks at 1.84 looks decent, but I have to side with the 2-1 again to Nishikori and let’s hope I’m not talking about injury in the debrief tomorrow.
Sure thing: Back over 18.5 total games in Cuevas/Vanni at 1.40
Value bet: Back Wawrinka to beat Berdych at 1.98
Long shot: Back Nishikori to beat Anderson 2-1 at 3.80