The first of the quarter finals at the 2015 US Open are in-play on Tuesday, with both the defending men’s champion and our women’s world number one in action.
It was two winners from my three bets on Monday, with the ‘sure thing’ just about getting back on track, but in truth it was anything but ‘sure’ in a bizarre match between Simona Halep and Sabine Lisicki.
I would need another entire preview piece to explain what happened in that one, but Halep somehow got through and Vika Azarenka won fairly comfortably to land the double.
Then the unders was successful in Richard Gasquet’s win over Tomas Berdych and those who took a chance on my other suggestion of the -2.5 games on the Gasman at 3.15 would also have been heading to the pay out queue.
John Isner was unable to finish it off with a win for my ‘long shot’ after he lost set one to Roger Federer on a tie break.
The US Open quarter finals a year ago saw one decent underdog win, which was Marin Cilic over Berdych as a 2.74 chance, and the Croatian is back to try again today.
Conditions were hotter than expected on Monday by a fair amount and the forecast for today is for more hot sun and humidity, with 33C temperatures in the shade expected.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Marin Cilic
The defending champion looks to seal his spot in the last four and a likely meeting with world number one Djokovic when he takes on Tsonga in this 18:30 UK time clash.
It will be the eighth meeting between this pair of big servers and Cilic will fancy his chances after winning four of the last five against the Frenchman, on grass, hard, indoor hard and clay.
The Croatian certainly hasn’t been in the same sort of form that we saw from him 12 months ago here in New York, but he’s certainly match tight after some real battling performances to make it back to the last eight.
A year ago nobody was talking about Cilic as a potential champion at the quarter final stage after a horrible last-16 match against a Frenchman, and guess what? The same has happened again.
Cilic’s win over Jeremy Chardy was scrappy and he’s looked pretty mediocre all week, but he’s been winning and it was at this stage onwards a year ago that he didn’t drop a set to become champion.
Tomas Berdych, Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori were all swept aside and he’ll be getting that feeling back now that he’s into week two again.
That win over Chardy wasn’t without its problems though, and a turned ankle will hopefully not turn out to be too serious from his point of view.
Clearly, the serve will be key here, and Cilic leads the ace count in the tournament so far with 82 from four matches, which is not far off double that of Tsonga’s 45, although Marin has played more sets.
From a Tsonga viewpoint he’s had a much easier passage to this stage, with simple wins over Jarkko Nieminen, Marcel Granollers, Sergiy Stakhovsky and Benoit Paire.
The latter match should have been a challenge on Paire’s previous form, but he reverted to type embarrassingly facing his senior countryman and handed the match to Tsonga pretty much on a plate.
Jo has done all he has needed to in arriving here in the last eight, but he has only won two of his last 10 against top-10 opposition since randomly winning the Rogers Cup last season.
One would make the assumption that these two big servers would be certs to play breakers, but against each other in the past they’ve played only two in the 11 sets contested at main level.
Tsonga hasn’t played a single one in his last 17 sets this season, so the 1.58 about under 1.5 tie breaks could be worthy of consideration, but I think there’s slight value on Cilic here at 2.30.
Both players are the types to play their best tennis in the big matches and the key here could be the great serving form that Cilic is in plus his experience of coming through tough matches will help too.
Tsonga may not be quite ready for this thanks to an easier than expected draw and having beaten Tsonga as underdog the last three times in a row I can’t see any value in the Frenchman today at 1.60.
I would probably have made this more like an even money match or even Cilic slight favourite, so I have to side with the Croatian today.
Serena Williams vs Venus Williams
Younger sister Serena ramped up her title challenge with a very impressive display of hitting against Madison Keys and now she faces her elder sister for the 25th time for a place in the semi finals.
And the match-up isn’t that dissimilar to the Keys one in the sense that Venus will try and outhit Serena, which didn’t work too well for Keys, although Venus did actually win their most recent clash on hard courts in Montreal last season.
But by and large the younger sister has dominated this match-up, with six wins from the last seven dating back to 2009 and the last time that Venus beat Serena at a major was the 2008 Wimbledon final.
Looking at their career series in detail we find that not since the then-named NASDAQ-100 Open (that’s the Miami Open these days) way back in 2002 have the sisters played a match that ended in 17 games or fewer.
That was 19 meetings ago, so the 1.35 about over 17.5 games seems like good value, especially since it’s hard to see one sister or the other wanting this match to end in a thrashing.
Venus has been playing some fine tennis this tournament and she’s been moving well and serving well, which gives her half a chance today and I wouldn’t be a Serena backer at 1.10.
The conspiracy theories will no doubt be bandied around today about Venus rolling over and letting Serena win for the career slam possibility to remain alive, but that seems highly unlikely to me.
On the form that we’ve seen from the pair so far this could be a much tighter match than the layers think and the 3.20 about over 24.5 games looks a decent long shot.
Sure thing: Back over 17.5 games in Williams/Williams at 1.35
Value bet: Back Cilic to beat Tsonga at 2.30