ATP World Tour Finals: Berdych will push Nadal in first set

Friday night’s tennis action at the o2 Arena in London features the world number one taking on the world number six, with a place in the semi-finals at stake.

Rafael Nadal has already qualified for the last four, but he’ll want to top the group, while Tomas Berdych needs a win to stand a chance of qualifying, dependent upon the result from today’s 2pm match in this group.

Last night’s wager proved a profitable one when Juan Martin Del Potro took the required set from Novak Djokovic in what was definitely one of the better matches of this tournament so far.

I was thinking that I’d chosen the wrong bet of the two that I’d suggested, when Djokovic easily covered the minus 1.5 game handicap in set one, before Delpo showed some of his best form in set two.


Rafael Nadal vs Tomas Berdych

Probably the last opponent that Berdych would have wanted to have to defeat to grab a last four spot is a man who he has been beaten by in their last 15 meetings in a row.

Indeed, Nadal has won all bar three of their 19 competitive meetings, with Berdych’s last win coming way back in 2006. He hasn’t so much as taken a set from Rafa since January 2012.

They haven’t met too often on indoor hard though, with their only two meetings in these sorts of conditions being shared. That is the one bright spot for Tomas in what’s been a horrendous match-up for the Czech.

Another potential boost for Berdych is the rumour doing the rounds that Nadal injured his hand while slicing bread(?!) on Thursday, but I can’t imagine that hampering Rafa too much even if it turns out to be true.

Admittedly the world number one doesn’t have much to play for when compared to Berdych. The Czech needs to win to stand a chance of qualifying and at the time of writing he could actually still top the group if he beats Rafa in straight sets and Stan Wawrinka beats David Ferrer this afternoon.

It’s easy to be lured in to backing Berdych when he plays the kind of tennis he produced for large parts of his clash with Ferrer. He can look unplayable at times and he has beaten Federer, Djokovic and Murray this season as betting underdog.

However the match-up with Rafa has always troubled him to put it kindly and whether he has the belief to come out here and beat Rafa in an all or nothing match has to be questioned – even with his motivation being seemingly higher than Rafa’s.

Tomas’s best chance must surely lie in the first set and with Rafa priced at 1.23 outright for this match I like the idea of looking at the first set markets instead of the match odds.

Over 9.5 games at 1.57 looks a solid wager, particularly on this pudding of a court, where we’ve seen five of the eight first sets so far take 10 games or more and the other three be completed in nine.

In their personal career series four of their last five opening sets have gone over 9.5 games, with the only exception being on slow clay in Rome this year.

If Berdych serves as he did against Ferrer, the 2.18 for the Czech +1.5 games in set one isn’t out of the question either, but the overs looks solid enough in what should be a competitive opening set.


Best Bet

Back over 9.5 games in set one of Berdych/Nadal at 1.57

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