Our tennis expert Sean Calvert expects the 33rd installment of the Federer vs Nadal rivalry to go all the way...
There’s just the one match on Day 12 of the 2014 Australian Open, but it’s a big one with a place in the men’s singles final at stake.
Thursday’s best bet found the mark, as Stan Wawrinka defeated Tomas Berdych and covered the set handicap in the process. The match was also decided by three sets to one as suggested and the first set ended 6-3, so it was a bumper day all round.
Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal (BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 08.35 GMT)
This superstar pair will lock horns for the 33rd time in what, in truth, hasn’t exactly been an overly competitive series for the last couple of years.
Nadal leads the head-to-head 22-10 overall and the Spaniard has won eight of their last 10 meetings, with Federer’s last success over his nemesis at a Grand Slam coming way back in 2007 in a five-set Wimbledon final.
To say Rafa has had the edge is putting it mildly and usually everything is in his favour in this match-up, but you’ve got to be concerned about the blooded mess that is Nadal’s left hand if you’re on the Pearl de Manacor outright.
Rafa says that it isn’t bothering him except on serve, but looking at an image of it I don’t see how it can’t be restricting and is it a coincidence that some of his down the line forehands particularly have been strangely misfiring in recent matches?
For Nadal to admit that it’s really hampering his serve is pretty telling and he certainly has been poor by his stellar standards for sizeable portions of the matches against Kei Nishikori and Grigor Dimitrov.
Federer for his part has been rolling back the years to some degree and was in good nick in his win over an admittedly below par Andy Murray in the quarter finals, but the Swiss has been moving much better than last season and he’s hitting his ground strokes with more certainty with his new racquet.
So, that’s all good news for Federer backers at around 2.35, but I won’t be one of them despite Rafa’s mangled hand.
I think it will be a closer match than the recent one-sided encounters between the pair, but the mental hurdle may prove to be too big for Federer to overcome and it stands to reason that your bottle goes a bit with age.
He showed that again when failing with match points numerous times against Murray for a 3-0 win and on the big points against Rafa Roger has to have a question mark against his name in that department.
Most of the other areas of his game are looking much better than last season though and if he can stay solid on that backhand wing, as he was against Murray for the most part, he can push Rafa much harder than at any time since their semi-final here two years ago.
The over 40.5 games looks a very good wager here at 1.88, with four or five sets a distinct possibility and the 3-2 Rafa win at 4.90 holds some appeal too.
I don’t see much value in backing Rafa at 1.58 with the state that his hand is in and the solid bet looks the overs to me.
Another option is to side with a close first set and the tie break at over 12.5 games is around the 3.85 mark. There were two breakers in their 2012 meeting here and that’s not a bad option if you can only stay in front of the TV for a set.
Best Bet: Back over 40.5 games in Federer/Nadal at 1.70