It’s fourth round day in the men’s singles at the 2016 US Open on Sunday, with Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal among those seeking quarter final places today.
We were a little unfortunate not to land all three bets on Saturday when Juan Martin Del Potro covered the set handicap, Kei Nishikori didn’t play a tie break, and Stan Wawrinka went way past the overs mark.
Joao Sousa led Grigor Dimitrov *2-0 in set four of their match needing only a few more games for the overs and ‘long shot’ double, but he lost the next six games in a row.
So, it was two from three on the day, and we’re set for a potentially very windy and stormy day in the New York area on Sunday, with the possibility of Storm Hermine hitting the area at some point.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the New York area on Sunday, so clearly there’s a possibility of a suspension or curtailment of play, perhaps similarly to 2012 when Arthur Ashe Stadium was evacuated during Andy Murray’s glory year.
Rafael Nadal vs Lucas Pouille
This one is scheduled for around 20:00 UK time on Arthur Ashe and assuming it gets on it looks the only match today where the underdog has some sort of chance of being pretty competitive.
But much depends on the fatigue levels of Pouille after the Frenchman made a sluggish start to the US Open and had to come from behind to win all of his three matches this week.
I said in the preview of Pouille vs Roberto Bautista-Agut that the Frenchman is a big match player and he’ll love the big stage of Ashe and he’s certainly not short on confidence. Whether his body is up to it is another question.
On the outdoor hard court stats in 2016 there’s nothing between Nadal and Pouille on serve, with both at a shade under 80 percent on service holds, but Rafa is 10 percent ahead on breaks of serve at an impressive 33.2 percent.
But the indoor conditions on Ashe should make things tougher for Nadal and easier for Pouille, with the wind taken out of the equation and the shot-maker can go for his shots a bit more.
The Frenchman has now won seven times against top-20 opposition this season and 12 times in the 2015 and 2016 seasons as a 3.0 underdog or bigger, with five victories this year at 4.50 or bigger.
Pouille’s poor first serve percentage is always the worry with him and he was about normal at 56 percent versus Bautista-Agut, but he needs more against Nadal to keep the Spaniard on the back foot.
The Frenchman is more likely than Andrey Kuznetsov or Andreas Seppi were to take advantage of good situations against Nadal and again the 3-1 to Rafa at 3.85 or 2.35 about Pouille +2.5 sets seem the ones here.
Pouille rarely plays tie breaks, with 0.10 per set on outdoor hard this season and he’s played only six in his last 40 sets of tennis, but 1.42 on no tie breaks is too short.
Novak Djokovic vs Kyle Edmund
According to the forecast this one is scheduled at the same time as 40mph winds and rain hit Flushing and it could be yet another day of limited action for Djokovic if that’s the case.
Assuming the Tropical Storm doesn’t hit and we are playing tonight it’ll be the first time on Ashe for Edmund and that in itself will be a big advantage for Djokovic, who will be desperate for some actual match tennis this week.
Having had a walkover against Jiri Vesely and just six games against Mikhail Youzhny the Serb should at least get some court time on Sunday and while Edmund can go toe-to-toe with Novak it surely won’t be often enough for the Brit.
It’s been a fine tournament for Edmund, with wins over Richard Gasquet and John Isner and he did play well against Djokovic in Miami in a 6-3, 6-3 loss back in the spring.
Djokovic created 11 break point chances that day and the serve of Edmund isn’t really up to fending off great returners like the world number one, who has a 34.5 break of serve percentage this season on hard.
Edmund holds his own serve 80.7 percent of the time this season and assuming Djokovic is fit the Brit would do very well to win a set in this one.
The 1.19 about Djokovic winning set one or 1.22 about him winning the match -5.5 games seem the most likely of the short ones, but 1.59 on Djokovic 3-0 is a risk worth taking.
The Serb has only lost two matches to opponents aged under 23 in the last five years – one when fatigued against Vesely this season and the other to Dimitrov (also on clay) in Madrid in 2013.
Miami 2009 to Murray was the last time that Djokovic was beaten by an under-23 on outdoor hard and he’s only dropped one set since then on the surface – bizarrely to Bjorn Fratangelo at Indian Wells this year.
Put another way, Djokovic has won 54 of his last 55 sets on outdoor hard against opponents under 23 years of age, so experience in these sorts of situations is likely to be key here.
Sure thing: Back Djokovic to beat Edmund 3-0 at 1.59
Long shot: Back Nadal to beat Pouille 3-1 at 3.85