The semi finals at the BB&T Open didn’t quite go as I had anticipated, unfortunately. Gilles Muller produced another superb performance on serve, which was too much for Go Soeda to cope with and the Japanese player was unable to take the required amount of games for my bet.
Muller won 33 of 35 points on his first serve and for the second match in a row didn’t face a break point in the match as he moved through to his first tour level final since 2005. There he will face Andy Roddick who, thanks to a below par effort from John Isner, was able to sneak through in the deciding set to his first outdoor hard court final since the start of 2011.
Isner was very disappointing on his forehand side, with all sorts of poor errors and his service return was at its worst, which wasn’t going to get the job done against Roddick who did a decent job of protecting his own delivery.
So, it’s Muller vs Roddick at 8pm UK time this evening and the pair are meeting for the fifth time in their careers, with Roddick holding a 3-1 advantage so far. The only showdown that Muller won was at the US Open of 2005 when he stunned A-Rod in the first round at a massive price in three tie breaks.
Roddick has won the subsequent three encounters in straight sets, the most recent of these coming in Miami earlier this year when the American won 6-3, 6-2. The key to that match – and probably today’s as well – will be Muller’s second serve, which Roddick tends to do well on and the leftie from Luxembourg was only able to win 25% on second serve that day.
He’s only been able to win over 50% of second serve points against Roddick once and that was in the one match he won in 2005 when he won 65% of the points on his second delivery. Against Mardy Fish in the second round here this week Muller was down at 38% and Fish was winning pretty comfortably until he collided with a net post and his only real chance in this one is to serve very high numbers on first serve.
He’s managed to do that against Soeda and Matt Ebden and he’s going to have to make it a hat trick if he wants to land his first ATP Tour title at the age of 29. Roddick hasn’t won a title on outdoor hard since Miami in 2010, but he’s a strong favourite for this at a price of 1.25, which is a bit too low for my liking.
Muller, with that 2005 US Open win, was actually the last left hander other than Rafa Nadal to beat Roddick on an outdoor hard court and A-Rod has an outstanding 81% win ratio over lefties. I can’t see Muller winning this unless he serves amazingly well throughout the whole match, which does seem rather unlikely.
The only bet that interests me in this one is for Roddick to win 2-0 at a price of around 1.70. It’s a tall order for Muller to continue to serve at around the 70% mark of first serves in, as he has done in his previous two matches and especially in his first final for seven years.
I think that Roddick will step up and take this match reasonably comfortably and although he may be made to work in the first set, he should come through in two once he’s got a read on the Muller delivery.
Best Bet: Roddick to win 2-0 at 1.70