Saturday at the US Open was another perfect day for this column, with all three of my advised wagers proving successful.
My opening bet of the day was for the clash between Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori to go over 39.5 games and so it did, with the Japanese star fighting back from two sets and a break behind to force a fourth set. Milos Raonic comfortably defeated James Blake in straight sets to bring home the -1.5 set handicap and Tomas Berdych overcame Sam Querrey in four sets, which was good enough for the -1.5 set handicap in that one as well.
Sunday sees Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin Del Potro and Andy Roddick in action in the men’s draw, whilst Maria Sharapova, Sam Stosur and Victoria Azarenka feature on the women’s side.
All of those mentioned are long odds-on, however. A wager I prefer is for Marion Bartoli to push Petra Kvitova closer than the odds suggest. I haven’t been convinced at all by Kvitova so far. She admits to having struggled in the oppressive heat and humidity of North America previously, although she claims to be handling it better this year.
But her performances so far this week don't suggest that she’ll beat Bartoli by six games today in what will be their fifth career meeting. The French world number 11 seems big to me at 5.25 and she has beaten Kvitova in quick conditions before, so the 2.00 about Bartoli +5.5 games looks generous to me, particularly as Kvitova didn’t cover that margin in two of her three matches so far this week.
We were successful with the unpredictable Alex Dolgopolov a few days ago and he’s definitely worth backing today with a 1.5 set start against Stan Wawrinka at around 1.68. Stan is the marathon man in New York, with his last seven matches here going at least four sets and five of those going the full distance.
To say he has a problem closing matches out here is an understatement. His game against a hobbling Steve Darcis in his previous round proved the point again; he almost lost against an opponent who could barely move.
Dolgo won the only previous encounter between the two and I’m not sure the layers have got this one right at all. The Ukrainian isn’t one to trust, but I fancy Dolgo to take this match in four or five sets. The overs looks good too in this one, but the 1.5 set start is the best bet of all.
Finally, John Isner and Phillip Kohlschreiber look certain to go past the 40.5 total games mark in what could be a late night in Flushing. Assuming that the brittle Kohlschreiber is OK after five sets the other day he has the quality to push Isner harder than Malisse or Nieminen have done so far. Of course, the American struggles to put even average opponents away in straight sets.
Six of Isner’s last seven matches in hard court majors have gone over 40.5 games and the only one that didn’t was against Benjamin Mitchell, who’s not in the world’s top 600. Isner has won all three against the German and he’ll probably win again, but he’s yet to do it in straight sets and I doubt this match will be any different.
Back Bartoli +5.5 games to beat Kvitova at 2.0
Back Dolgopolov +1.5 sets to beat Wawrinka at 1.68
Back over 40.5 games in Isner v Kohlschreiber at 1.75