Monte Carlo 2012, 19th April

Nishikori v Berdych:

They have played twice before and Nishikori has won them both. They have never played on clay.

Berdych started his match with Cilic exceptionally well and was 5-1 up in that first set. He appeared to think the job was done and switched off which alowed Cilic to haul him back to a tie break. Berdych, now re-focused took the tie break easily and breezed through the second set.

Nishikori has also looked good this week. He was just too good for a tired Ramos in the opening set in the first round although the Spaniard kept it much closer in the second set.  Nishikori took a few games to get his serve going against mathieu and it almost cost him a break half way through the first set. Once the serve was firing again he was always in control.

Nishikori’s last win against Berdych was at the end of October last year. That came right in the middle of an excellent period of form for Berdych that saw him win the title in Beijing a couple of weeks before. Immediately after the loss to Nishikori Berdych reached 2 semi finals and then win an exhibition event.

Berdych starts at 1.47 which feels too low. I do expect him to record his first win against Nishikori today but I aren’t comfortable backing him at that price.  However if both players start this match the same way as they started their last ones Berdych could run away with the first set as he will be able to take full advantage of poor serving from his opponent.

I will wait for a price over 1.65 on Berdych. Doing this also gives me chance to assess their form on the day.

Update: Berdych played the first set with no apparent confidence in his game. I kept my green on him but reduced the liability. Nishikori was serving exceptionally well and I didn’t expect that he could maintain that into the second set.  That proved to be coorrect and it was just a matter of time before Berdych broke him.

In the third set it was very close with both players having break points but the  break diidn’t come until Nishikori was serving at 4-5.

Berdych won 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.

 

Almagro v Wawrinka:

Wawrinka leads the head to heads 4-3. He also leads the head to heads on clay 2-1 although Almagro won their most recent one which was in February. All 3 of their clay court matches have needed a deciding set.

Almagro has been pretty consistent this season on all surfaces. In the last round he struggled to get past Starace in the opening set ( although he always does against the Italian ) but once the set was secured in the tie break he took full control losing just 1 game in the second set.

Wawrinka went a break down against Andujar but managed to pull back and take the match in straight sets. He hasn’t had a bad season although not up to Almagro’s record. However his best runs have come in clay events. He reached 2 semi finals in South America losing one to Almagro and the other to Verdasco.

Previous matches suggest it will be close but Almagro has won both their matches in 2012. He won in straight sets at the Australian open.

In the last 2 years they have played 4 times. In 3 of those matches Almagro has taken the opening set. I expect that trend to continue today. He may need 3 sets again but I think it will be the Spaniard who moves through to the next round.

Update: I was completely wrong with this one. I wasn’t able to trade it as it was a delayed start due to the rain. Looking at the point by point scores Wawrinka broke serve for a 2-0 lead. Almagro had break points in the second to last  service game of the set and also put pressure on the Wawrinka serve in the last game of the set but wasn’t able to break.

No deciding set this time as Almagro was broken 3 times in the second set.

Wawrinka won 6-3, 6-3.

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