Saturday was a winning day at the 2012 Davis Cup Final, with my best bet proving successful at a price of 1.87. The overs wager was effectively in after the second set when the Czech team of Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych leveled a rubber that they went on to take in four sets and give themselves a 2-1 lead in the tie overall.
Day three in Prague could see either one or two singles matches take place. With the opening match being key it is the one I’m focusing largely on today. The two big guns of the respective sides go head-to-head when Tomas Berdych takes on David Ferrer at 12pm UK time.
The pair are meeting for the ninth time in their careers with Ferrer currently leading the series 5-3, although they’ve only met once in the last two years. That was at the O2 in London a year ago in the round robin stages of the World Tour Finals and Berdych grabbed the win in the final set that day.
Most of their past meetings have been on clay and they were a while ago now, so not a great deal can be read into their head-to-head record as both have improved since most of those clashes occurred.
One has to give Ferrer a substantial advantage in terms of fitness, with Berdych having played a five set singles match and Saturday’s doubles already. The last thing the Czech needs is to be coming into a match with the super fit Spaniard at a disadvantage.
The court surface here at the O2 in Prague has been described by Ferrer as ‘very fast’, but in his opening singles match against Radek Stepanek the Czech was unable or unwilling to go for his shots, which makes it rather pointless to have prepared a shot makers' surface in the first instance.
Berdych too was guilty of playing too conservatively and going into his shell against Nico Almagro on day one, which can perhaps be put down to the pressure of having to win after Stepanek had lost. But both Berdych and Almagro showed that if you’re brave enough to go for winners on this court you will be rewarded, which can’t be said of most of the surfaces on tour these days.
For me, that’s what this tie comes down to. If Berdych has the bottle to consistently go for his shots and hit flat winners on a regular basis then this match is in his hands. I just don’t trust him to do it, which is why I’d rather be with the 1.84 about Ferrrer minus 2.5 games on the handicap. The match is set up for Berdych, but I can’t see him delivering when the pressure is on and Ferrer is likely to grind this one out and take it to a fifth and deciding rubber.
That being the case it will probably be Stepanek vs Almagro for the Cup and that would be fascinating viewing, with both players very likely to choke at some stage of the match. The pair would be meeting for the fourth time in a series that Steps leads 2-1, but Almagro won their US Open match this summer in four sets and should prevail again.
But, as Berdych himself alluded to, Almagro is not a big match player yet, and this one will surely go over the 41.5 total games mark at around 2.0.
Back Ferrer -2.5 games to beat Berdych at 1.84
Back over 41.5 games in Almagro v Stepanek at 2.0