Friday in the Far East got off to a great start when Milos Raonic landed our bet in Tokyo. Having saved a match point the big Canadian saw off Janko Tipsarevic, whose shattered racquets littered the court. Milos advanced to the next round where he will play Andy Murray.
Unfortunately Mikhail Youzhny had a real off day in Beijing and was in danger of repeating his infamous bleeding head routine such was the frustration of a very poor effort against Jo Wilfried Tsonga. I can empathise somewhat with the Russian’s annoyance having been equally disappointed with his error-strewn display.
As bad as that was, imagine how you’d have felt if you’d backed Angelique Kerber in the women’s event against Maria Sharapova. The German, who beat Sharapova the previous occasion they met on a
hard court, quit at 0-6, 0-3 down in what appeared to be a clear case of bagel avoidance. If that wasn’t enough we also had alleged death threats to Roger Federer in Shanghai as well, proving that this time of year really is silly season.
We even had Andy Murray attempting a between the legs tweener that went embarrassingly wrong. The Scot triumphed, although those that went with my suggestion of backing Stan Wawrinka +1.5 sets would have made a tidy profit.
You should also have won some money on my wager on Sam Querrey, who was unbackable in play at a set and a break up and looking dominant against Feli Lopez. The wheels came off, however, and he slumped to an awful defeat, taking just four of his 17 break point opportunities. Silly season indeed.
Saturday is semi-final day in Beijing and Tokyo, as the Asian swing gathers pace ahead of next week’s Shanghai Masters 1000 tournament. Murray takes on Raonic and Marcos Baghdatis faces Kei Nishikori in Tokyo, while Jo-Wilfried Tsonga plays Lopez and Novak Djokovic takes on Florian Mayer in Beijing.
Murray was flawless in his US Open win over Raonic, but not so in a straight sets loss to the Canadian in Barcelona prior to that. On on current form the Scot should take this one but his price of 1.22 doesn’t appeal that much. A bet I prefer in Tokyo is for Baghdatis to push Nishikori past the total games mark.
The Cypriot has been in very good touch this week and when he’s serving well, as he has done so far, he’s a tough opponent – as his 3-0 head-to-head record over Nishikori shows. Kei was also excellent in his win over Tomas Berdych and the crowd will be willing him on once more, but Baggy should prove no pushover. I’d rather be on the 1.75 about a longish match than 1.57 on the Nishikori win.
Baghdatis hasn’t so much as dropped a set before against Kei, but surely he will today. This one has the potential to be the match of the day, as the pair are closely matched on their very best form.
In Beijing it looks a shoo-in for a Tsonga vs Djokovic final, as both of their opponents today combined have taken just one set from the more illustrious pair in seven meetings. Mayer did have a chance to take a set off Nole at Wimbledon but blew it – as I remember to my cost – and I doubt he has the mental strength of character to push Novak. But the Serb’s price of 1.03 is a tad
of an insult to the unconventional German, and I’d be tempted by the over 18.5 games in that one if I were to have a bet.
Lopez was fortunate in the extreme that Querrey’s brain short circuited in their match but he won’t enjoy such luxury today against Tsonga. I would expect the Frenchman to get this done in two sets at 1.68
Lopez’s best hope is surely in a breaker, as his return of serve is not great, but he’s lost three of the four tie breaks that this pair have contested in the past, so a 2-0 scoreline looks good to me.
Back over 22.5 games in Nishikori vs Baghdatis at 1.75
Back Tsonga to beat Lopez 2-0 at 1.68