Saturday started well for our bets on the grass in Halle when Tommy Haas and Philipp Kohlschreiber eased over the 23.5 total games mark.
Next, the gamble on Sam Querrey narrowly failed in the deciding set, as the big American was unable to take more than three of the 13 break point chances he created in the match. In contrast, Cilic played the big points better by grabbing four of his five break point opportunities, which was the difference in the end.
Today is finals day at both Queen’s Club and Halle. We’ll kick off with the latter, as the final there begins first at around midday UK time.
Roger Federer is bidding for a sixth Halle title and a first since 2008 when he takes on Haas today. Federer is at around 1.11 to do so and record his 12th career win over the German.
That record is slightly misleading, as Haas withdrew in two of their last four meetings, but the Swiss has still won the last nine competitive matches between the pair. They’ve played each other three times on grass and each meeting has involved a tie-break, but Federer has won all three.
On his day, Haas is a class act and this match-up should be a delight for the purists, with both players utilising the swashbuckling one-handed backhand approach that is so entertaining when hit sweetly.
Their most recent meeting was three years ago on the grass of Wimbledon. Fed came out on top in three tight sets and Haas didn’t manage to create a single break point that day.
Federer’s record in finals is pretty awesome, with a 71% career winning record, and he’s won the last seven in a row stretching back to Basel last autumn. He’s only ever lost two finals on grass - one being the famous Wimbledon final against Rafa Nadal and the other coming in his previous final here against Lleyton Hewitt in 2010, which was a big shock.
But Haas has a very good record in finals as well, having won his last eight in a row stretching back to 2004. There are certainly plenty of worse 6.25 shots around in sport today than Haas and he’ll draw some belief from Hewitt’s win here, but Federer should prove too strong.
I think Haas will push him at least some of the way in his first final since he beat Novak Djokovic here to win the title in 2009 and the over 21.5 games looks good at 1.87.
Over in London we have a final between David Nalbandian and Cilic with the latter priced up as a slight favourite at around 1.85.
This makes the Argentine the value pick. I would personally have made Nalbandian the slight favourite in this, as he does have a 4-1 head-to-head career lead over Cilic and he’s the more experienced campaigner on grass.
The Argentine’s excellent return game will come into play today and his more secure ground strokes should force the errors from Cilic’s erratic forehand unless the Croatian cleans the lines all afternoon.
They’ve never played each other on grass, but they have met on two occasions in 2012 with one win each, the most recent being a five-set win for Cilic in Davis Cup.
Their four meetings on faster surfaces all went the way of Nalbandian, though, and he’ll be up for this in his first final since Auckland in January 2011.
He’s won 54% of finals with nine of his last 13 ending in a victory. Cilic has a 53% winning record, but he’s lost five of his last six.
This will be Cilic’s first final on grass and Nalbandian’s first since his Wimbledon final of ten years ago. I’m backing a Nalbandian win today in what will probably be a very tight encounter.
Back over 21.5 games in Federer v Haas at 1.87
Back Nalbandian to beat Cilic at 1.95