We’ve reached the business end of the 2015 Australian Open and the first of the quarter finals in the Men’s and Ladies Singles are scheduled for Tuesday at Melbourne Park.
Rafa Nadal and Maria Sharapova are among those in action attempting to make the semi finals of the first major of the season and play starts at midnight UK time.
Novak Djokovic’s straight sets win over Gilles Muller was the only shining light on Monday after yet another five set defeat for one of my wagers.
Djokovic had a few problems against the awkward Muller, but came through just in time with the lottery of a third set tie break looming large on the horizon.
Feli Lopez was my long shot at 5.20 and he joined the likes of Lucas Pouille and Teimuraz Gabashvili in the five set loser book when he lost his serve from 40-15 up with a double fault at 3-4 in the decider to Milos Raonic.
At least those on the original price would have been able to profit in that deciding set, but it was frustrating to lose that way again.
David Ferrer was unable to produce the fast start I needed from him against Kei Nishikori and as well as the Japanese played Ferrer was not in the best condition to fight it out.
Simona Halep vs Ekaterina Makarova
This first match of the day on Rod Laver Arena sees the Romanian number three seed take on the Russian lefty for the second time in her career.
Halep has moved through to this quarter final stage without really hitting the heights, but her solid game and excellent movement is much too good for most on the WTA Tour and should be again on Tuesday.
Makarova has made her third straight major quarter final after reaching the same stage at Wimbledon and the semis in New York, but this match-up looks tough for Kate against the consistency of Halep.
You don’t get much for free against Halep and as well as Makarova can hit when she’s in the zone I would be very surprised if she’s able to sustain her top level for long enough to get over the line here.
Halep won their only prior clash, which was on outdoor hard in New Haven in the summer of 2013, in straight sets and in her fourth major quarter final she’s better equipped to handle the occasion than a year ago.
The Romanian fell victim to nerves here when playing Domi Cibulkova at the same stage 12 months ago, but she’s a different proposition now and 1.32 about her beating Makarova is today’s ‘sure thing’.
Tomas Berdych vs Rafael Nadal
The odds on Nadal are the biggest they’ve been against Berdych since the 2008 Miami Masters semi final and such is the mental stranglehold that Rafa has over the Czech that I can’t find many reasons not to take the price.
Nadal has 17 straight wins over Berdych and that sort of mental baggage is surely virtually impossible to overcome and doubt will dog the Czech should he take the lead in this one.
Admittedly, this is not a peak Nadal, but I doubt he’s been 100 percent in the last 17 matches against the Berdman either and the latter has flattered to deceive so many times that I’d want a bigger price about him winning here.
Rafa is improving match-by-match, but he’s still not quite there, and that’s where the price of 1.57 about the Spaniard comes from, but what better match-up to land in a major quarter final than a guy you’ve beaten so many times in a row.
Berdych has been playing some great tennis lately, but he also did that in Doha, where he wiped the floor with everyone before failing to show for the final against Ferrer and it’s that lack of mental steel that leads me to Rafa here.
For my outright position I’d love a Berdych win, but I was hoping that a rusty Rafa would lose early and when Tim Smyczek failed to take his chance this clash always looked on the cards.
The 2.10 about Nadal winning 3-0 or 3-1 (minus 1.5 sets on the handicap) is a good price considering Berdych hasn’t taken two sets off Rafa since 2006 and is today’s value bet.
Eugenie Bouchard vs Maria Sharapova
For my long shot today I’m backing a 2-1 Sharapova win over Bouchard in the second match of the day on Rod Laver Arena.
Sharapova was rather fortunate not to be knocked out early when she faced match points against Alexandra Panova, but she survived and I expect her to overcome the Canadian and her ghastly army of fans in this one.
It may not be a straightforward assignment for the Russian though, as her last meeting with Bouchard wasn’t at the French Open of 2014 and on a surface that Genie is more comfortable on I’m expecting Maria to need the full three sets here.
Bouchard had to dig herself out of a largely self-inflicted hole against Irina Camelia Begu in the last round, but she’ll be more focused here and it seems likely that the Canadian will have her moments in this hard-hitting clash.
The 3.70 about the 2-1 win for Sharapova looks a good long shot for Tuesday.
Sure thing: Back Halep to beat Makarova at 1.32
Value bet: Back Nadal –1.5 sets to beat Berdych at 2.10
Long shot: Back Sharapova to beat Bouchard 2-1 at 3.70