It’s Super Saturday at the 2012 US Open and as ever on these occasions there’s a stellar line-up of the finest tennis talent on display.
It all kicks off at 4pm UK time, with Britain’s Andy Murray taking on Tomas Berdych for a place in the men’s final. Then Novak Djokovic faces David Ferrer and at midnight it’s the women’s final between Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka.
Yesterday’s wager on Azarenka to beat Maria Sharapova was very unlucky, with Azarenka failing to cover the 3.5 game handicap by a single game. The Belarussian has her work cut out tonight against an opponent in such dominant form as Williams.
The world number one by ranking only, Azarenka has failed to take a set from Serena in the last 12 they’ve played. She’s tasted victory over the American just once in their 10 career meetings - and that came against an exhausted Williams on the slow hard courts of Miami. Williams can be beaten on these Flushing Meadows courts - as Sam Stosur proved 12 months ago - but I doubt Azarenka is capable of an upset on current form.
Serena has been in superb touch this summer and has everything in her favour, including a better serve, forehand and anticipation. With the crowd behind Williams, I have serious doubts over whether Azarenka will come out on to Arthur Ashe Stadium Court with any real belief that she can topple the favourite.
Azarenka hasn’t served well enough this week and even her very best serving won’t be enough against the kind of weaponry at the disposal of Williams. I can’t see anything over than a 2-0 Williams win being the outcome of this match
Before all of that though, Murray bids to make his fifth Grand Slam final at the expense of Berdych, who on his best form will be an incredibly dangerous opponent for the Scot.
This match is a tough one to predict as there are so many variables in how both of them will play today. Murray has been superb and awful at different stages of the tournament, while Berdych has been the more consistent performer of the two, which is a bit of a surprise to seasoned Berdych watchers.
If the Czech comes out and plays as he did against Roger Federer - and can keep it up for three sets - then I think he wins this match. But it's hard trust him to do that, especially with question marks over which Andy Murray will turn up.
Murray has the game to beat Berdych but he’s frustrating player to back, as he showed in the first two sets against Marin Cilic. Judging by what I’ve seen this fortnight, I don't think that he represents value today as favourite.
It’s a bit of a gamble, as you can never have any real faith in the Czech, but with the prices as they are it seems a better wager to me to trust him to continue his form and win this match at 2.80. Berdych has beaten Murray on four of the six occasions they’ve played, including the only Grand Slam meeting and he has to be the value bet today.
Finally, the match between Ferrer and Djokovic which follows Murray/Berdych should go the way of the defending champion. Ferrer had to pull out all the stops to take down Djokovic’s pal Janko Tipsarevic in the last round and Serbia will surely get its revenge over the determined Spaniard today.
Djokovic leads their series 8-5 overall and 7-0 on outdoor hard courts, and has won five of their last six meetings on all surfaces. Ferrer’s marathon match against Tipsarevic won’t exactly have helped him but if anyone can overcome fatigue it’s Ferrer. But anything less than his best today will surely result in a routine win for Djokovic.
One of the biggest hitters in the game, Juan Martin Del Potro, was unable to breach the superb defences of the Djoker in the last round and I don’t see any way that a lighter hitter can cause enough damage to grab even a set either.
Del Potro was close, but Djokovic keeps pulling out all the stops when it matters. Although I can see at least one set being close, Djokovic will most likely win this 3-0 at a price of 1.55
Back Williams to beat Azarenka 2-0 at 1.48
Back Berdych to beat Murray at 2.80
Back Djokovic to beat Ferrer 3-0 at 1.55