Ladies semi-finals day proved to be a washout in more ways than one, with the rain-delayed matches not going quite to plan for us.
Sam Stosur had an absolute shocker against Sara Errani and effectively handed a spot in the final to her opponent with a string of unforced errors, and appeared to be shackled by nerves. Then Maria Sharapova won the match too quickly against Petra Kvitova to regain the world number one spot and earn a shot at a career slam.
It’s men’s semi-finals day on Friday and the first match on court sees David Ferrer take on Rafa Nadal for the 14th time on a clay court.
What a thankless task this has been over the years for Ferrer. His lone success on the red dirt against Nadal came way back in 2004 in their very first meeting in Stuttgart and he hasn’t taken a set on clay against Rafa since 2008.
Nadal has chalked up 12 wins over his rival, including two damaging ones this season when Ferrer pushed Rafa as hard as he possibly could in Barcelona and Rome and still came away with straight sets defeats. The number two Spaniard matched Rafa all the way to tie breaks in the opening sets in both of those matches and he had very little left after the deflation of losing the breaker in Rome.
I think that Ferrer will be very competitive again today at the start of this match, as Nico Almagro was in the quarter finals on Wednesday before Rafa wore him down. It goes against all logic to predict a Ferrer win in this match, as I don’t think he can play to the level he needs to for long enough to win a five set match on clay against Rafa, but he can still make us some money.
Rafa was forced into a first set tiebreaker by Almagro and Ferrer has done the same in his last two matches, so with no value in the outright market the first set overs looks a good opportunity. The over 10.5 games in the first set at a price of 4.30 looks well worth a bet, allowing a 7-5 or 7-6 scoreline in what will probably be the most competitive set. Ferrer knows he needs to win the first set to have a hope and so it should follow that it’s the one he has the best chance of winning – or at least pushing it over 10.5 games.
That game will be followed by Novak Djokovic v Roger Federer, and I like the world number one’s chances in this one.
Federer needs to serve exceptionally well and make sure he doesn’t make many errors with his main weapon - the forehand. His backhand will come under intense pressure from the Serbian in the longer rallies and I expect Djokovic to eventually grind him down on that wing.
This will be their 25th meeting in all, with Federer holding a 14-11 lead. The world number one has won five of the last six, however, including the meeting on clay in Rome last month. Federer’s last success over today’s opponent was here at Roland Garros 12 months ago and that will give him confidence of a repeat today, but to me he hasn’t been at his best this fortnight and may not be 100% fit.
In fact, neither player has hit the heights this week other than a spell of brilliance from Djokovic when faced with match points against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. There’s not much to separate the two, but the world number one has the edge and he should have enough to win this with a handicap of 1.5 sets at around 1.90
Back over 10.5 games in first set of Ferrer v Nadal at 4.30
Back Djokovic -1.5 sets to beat Federer at 1.90