After a shaky start to the week we have seen some excellent tennis.
In Rotterdam we have Berdych v Cilic.
Cilic won the title in Zagreb last week and has played incredibly well to reach another final. he has beaten Rosol, Tsonga, Murray and an in form Sijsling to get there.
Berdych has looked very controlled. Janowicz rocked him a little in the opening set of their quarter final. Many tipped Gulbis to cause an upset but Berdych always looked to be in the driving seat in the semi.
Back to back titles is so tough to do and signs of tiredness were evident in Cilic’s semi final with Sijsling. He will need to produce his best tennis of the week to beat Berdych and I just don’t think he has enough left in his legs to make that a reality. His best chance is to serve well and nick a tie break. It is noticeable that his ace count increased significantly in the semi final which could be because he was going for more cheap points from the line due to being low on energy.
I think Berdych takes this is 2 tight sets.
In Doha it’s 9th v 10th as Kerber and Halep go head to head.
Halep put her comeback against Radwanska down to her changing her own tactics. That’s not how I saw it. From the very first point Radwanska’s tactics were clear. She was going to move Halep around and it worked a treat. At 5-2 Radwanska was cruising. Then her brain shut down. She started hitting the ball straight to Halep and allowed her back in. By the time Halep was back on serve Radwanska’s head had gone completely. Halep won 8 games in a row and the match was all but won.
Kerber raced to a 4-0 lead against Jankovic and finished the set off but the second was a lot tighter. She served for the match but was broken and had to win it in the tie break.
Halep starts as slight favourite at 1.80 but everything looks very close. Stats against common opponents favour the German and I feel the value is on her. An obvious concern is their respective recent records in finals. Halep has won her last 6. Kerber has won just 1 of her last 6 with her win coming against Ivanovic in Linz last October. Halep is due a loss in a final!
Kerber in 3.
The Buenos Aires final sees 2 of the best clay courters on the tour fight it out.
Ferrer has faced clay specialists in every round. He hasn’t lost a set yet. His first 2 rounds were the closest as he probably conserved some energy for the latter stages. I expected Almagro to give him some problems. He did take a break lead in the second set having failed to get a first set break despite coming close.
Fognini has had a tougher route to the final. Leo Mayer took the opening set in the second round and Robredo did the same in the semi final.
Ferrer leads the head to heads 6-0. They played 3 times in 2013 which was Fognini’s best season.
Their last match on clay was in Acapulco last February. Fognini took it to 3 sets and I think that he has a god chance of doing the same today. I think Ferrer has found his form and will be too consistent.
Ferrer in 3 sets.
In Memphis it is Nishikori against Karlovic.
They have played twice before. Karlovic won both matches although the most recent meeting saw Nishikori retire before the end of the first set. Their only completed match was 2 years ago in a Davis Cup tie which Karlovic won in 3 straight sets.
Nishikori has a decent record against big servers but when Karlovic is serving well there are only a few players who can deal with his bombs.
If Nishikori can read the serve enough to get it in play his ground strokes make him favourite for the point. One of he hardest things that players have to come to terms with against Karlovic is the frustration of getting into a position to break and then seeing 2 aces fly past in a matter of seconds.
I don’t see any value on Nishikori at 1.50 . I need to see how he is coping with the Karlovic serve before enterig the market. If Nishikori is making errors on his own serve then the value becomes in laying him.