Thursday at the 2012 Wimbledon Championships proved to be a good one for betting, with my tip of backing Serena Williams on the handicap coming in nicely. The American did enough to cover the -2.5 game handicap mark by virtue of a 6-3, 7-6 win over Victoria Azarenka. Serena moves forward to another Wimbledon final, where she will play Agnieszka Radwanska, who defeated Angelique Kerber.
Friday at the All England Club sees world number one and reigning Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic take to the courts for his toughest test yet, facing Roger Federer for a place in this year’s final. This clash of the tennis titans has the promise of a Centre Court classic as the tournament favourites meet for the 27th time in total, but the first ever time on a grass court.
Nole is a quite strong favourite for this at around 1.40, which doesn’t really appeal to me as a value wager, but it does highlight the recent dominance that Djokovic has enjoyed over Federer. The Serbian has won seven of their last eight meetings and the one that went Federer’s way was on the clay of Roland Garros in 2011. Indeed, other than that match, the Swiss hasn’t managed to beat Djokovic outdoors over five sets since the 2009 US Open.
Djokovic has had the smoother passage to this year’s Wimbledon semi-final – dropping just the one set to Radek Stepanek – but he looked very shaky indeed in the opening set against Florian Mayer in the quarter-finals. Mayer really should have taken a one-set lead in that clash and you feel that Federer wouldn’t have missed the opportunity in the manner that the German did.
For his own part, Federer overcame a bad back to prevail against Xavier Malisse and enjoyed a last eight stroll over perennial Federer victim Mikhail Youzhny. Youzhny is a great match-up for Federer, and had little that could hurt him Nole will be a much stiffer test.
Djokovic’s remodelled serve is more of a weapon now than it was in the days when Federer regularly defeated him, while his best shot, the two-handed backhand, is much more reliable than the that off the Swiss.
But even more of a concern to my mind is the way that Federer has folded in recent Grand Slam matches when he’s gone behind – particularly against Djokovic. The French Open was a good example of this, and his two quarter-final defeats here to Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga were evidence of his apparent reluctance to change a game plan that isn’t working.
I’m not convinced that anything will be different today, but the 1.40 doesn’t appeal as an outright bet. For a bit of value in this one I’m going to take a chance on Federer in the only way that I think he can win this – by getting off to a fast start.
An early onslaught is so important for the Swiss in this one, and on every one of the 14 occasions that he has beaten Djokovic he’s won the first set. Although I think that Nole will come through in the end, the best value bet that I fancy is for Federer to take the first set.
That wager is available at 2.42 and that’s certainly worth an investment as Federer will know he has to have a fast start today and there’s every chance that he will.
Back Federer to win set one at 2.42