The PR disaster that is the Mutua Madrid Open 2012 lurched from one crisis to another on Tuesday - and we still have five days to go in this Masters 1000 event. It could get worse. Firstly, the servers went down at the Caja Magica and no information was able to be obtained for most of the day about match scores, other than the ones on the televised courts.
Maenwhile, the abuse from the players about the state of the court surface is increasing by the hour, with world number one Novak Djokovic being quoted as saying: “to play here I either need football boots or I call Chuck Norris.” Not exactly the kind of reaction organisers were expecting when they plumped for the blue clay option. And as if all that wasn’t enough, there’s also a row brewing about the lack of TV coverage of the later matches.
So, what does Wednesday promise in the way of entertainment?
Federer v Raonic
Well, we have a series of intriguing matches scheduled for today, not least the clash between the in-form Milos Raonic and Swiss maestro Roger Federer. Raonic has been in superb touch in the last few weeks and he efficiently despatched David Nalbandian on Tuesday in straight sets winning every one of his 27 first service points against one of the better returners in the game.
Nalbandian won just six out of 46 points on the Raonic serve and that sort of serving makes him a match for anyone on any surface. Federer comes into this match fresh after a break, but he would not have wanted to face the Canadian in his first match of the clay swing on a surface as questionable as this one appears to be.
But if anyone can master the courts here it’s Federer, whose movement is still pretty much the best around and although I expect him to win today I don’t think it will be as easy as odds of 1.35 suggest. They have met once before - at Indian Wells recently - and Raonic took the first set that day before the Swiss figured it out and came through in three. I think the play in this one is to back the over 22.5 games at a price of around 1.7.
Isner v Cilic
My second wager today is another overs bet and this time it concerns the match between John Isner and Marin Cilic. Rafa Nadal did say that this surface would benefit the likes of John Isner and he might be right, but this is a tough match for the American against a player who’s coming into something like his best form.
Cilic played some excellent stuff on his way to the Munich final last week and he should carry that confidence through to Madrid and a second career meeting with Isner. Their only clash to date was at last year’s Australian Open when Cilic prevailed 9-7 in the fifth set and I can foresee another tight encounter today. Isner’s form on clay has been excellent for a while now, with wins over Federer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gilles Simon, Richard Gasquet, Stan Wawrinka and of course he took Nadal to five sets at Roland Garros last year.
Breaks of serve should be at a premium between these two despite the clay surface and it should be noted that all of Isner’s matches in his last clay event in Houston went over today’s mark of 23.5 games. That’s one of the reasons why the big man will always struggle to go deep in Slams, but it should be to our advantage today at a price of 1.87.
Back Over 22.5 games in Federer v Raonic at 1.7, and also Over 23.5 games in Isner v Cilic at 1.87.