Wednesday in week two of the 2016 Australian Open sees the last of the men’s singles quarter finals take place, with Milos Raonic and Gael Monfils scrapping it out for a spot in the semis.
A thoroughly dismal showing from Kei Nishikori saw our ‘long shot’ of Novak Djokovic to win their quarter final by three sets to one fail on Tuesday, but we’re still showing a nice profit for the tournament so far.
Djokovic and Roger Federer are through to the last four and looking to join them are the only two ‘outsiders’ left in the tournament, with Andy Murray and David Ferrer contesting the remaining quarter final.
Milos Raonic vs Gael Monfils
Perhaps not the match-up we were expecting from this quarter of the draw, but both players have been excellent so far this fortnight and deserve their shot at a place in the last four.
It’s a match-up that we haven’t seen much of over the years, with only two prior meetings having taken place, and both were in ATP 250 events, but they were won by Monfils.
We had a nice winner the other day with Monfils beating Andrey Kuznetsov by three sets to one and I said that day that we may be seeing a more focused Lamonf than in the past – but then he came out with a ludicrous flying dive – on concrete.
It seems that Gael just can’t help himself when he spots an opportunity for the spectacular and one wonders what damage he’s done this time, with his hand cut, bruised and who knows what else?
It would be sadly typical of Gael’s career if he were to be at a major disadvantage in a big match because of his own stupidity, but let’s assume he’s okay to compete in this one.
Raonic did what he had to against Stan Wawrinka, which was to try and exploit the chipped return of Wawrinka’s by coming to the net much more than he has done in the past, and his volleying has improved for sure.
The Canadian came to the net 83 times against Wawrinka, winning 65 percent of those points, and it will be interesting to see if he tries that tactic again versus the talented Frenchman.
Monfils came to the net just 16 times in four sets against Kuznetsov, winning 15 of those points, but surely he’ll let Raonic command that zone and look to counter-punch.
Lamonf can overplay the defensive part of his game and it could turn into almost a classic serve/volley versus baseliner clash, which we rarely see these days.
And if that’s the case it might be trouble for Monfils, who has a poor 5-15 record on outdoor hard courts against the big servers in my database, losing six of his last seven.
Another concern for Monfils backers is the issue he’s had against Tomas Berdych, against whom the Frenchman has often lost against before he’s even stepped onto court – and that’s by his own admission.
The heavy ground strokes of Raonic could easily have a similar effect on Monfils on a quick surface such as this one in Melbourne, but it wouldn’t be the Open without the weather also playing a part.
It’s forecast to rain heavily for the rest of the tournament, so I can only assume this 08:30 UK time clash will be played under the roof, which means the balls will fly a bit more.
But even so the price on Raonic is somewhat tight to say the least, with perhaps too much emphasis being placed on his win over an ailing Wawrinka, who was under the weather with a cold.
I’d definitely have had the Canadian as favourite, but 1.36 is short and I couldn’t back him at that price, so I prefer the under 41.5 games here.
Monfils has consistently failed to deliver against big servers on quick outdoor hard, with a loss here last year to Jerzy Janowicz followed by another to the slumping Pole in Cincy last summer.
Prior to that he was beaten by Gilles Muller in Montreal and the only win I can find of Gael’s against a half decent big server on outdoor hard in his career came against Isner in Washington in a final set tie break in 2011.
His last seven opening sets against the big servers on my list have ended in fewer than 12 games (most have been fewer than 10) and under 10.5 games in set one is interesting too at 1.80.
Monfils to break serve first and Raonic -3.5 aces are others of interest here and Raonic looks the more likely winner, but 1.36 is no good, and I’ll side with the unders in this one.
Value bet: Back under 41.5 games in Monfils/Raonic at 1.95