Gulbis v Tsonga:
Defending champion Tsonga hasn’t had things his own way this week. He has been under pressure in every match. Having had a bye in the first round he scraped past Davydenko in two tie breaks. Roger Vasselin took the first set in yet another tie break.
In the semi final he added to his tie break total when he took the opening set from Struff. He faced 6 break points in that match (broken once).
Gulbis has been broken just once all week and hasn’t faced a break point in his last 2 matches.
Gulbis will be targeting the Tsonga backhand which is his clear weakness. His own backhand was excellent against Gasquet and his awkward looking forehand has been finding the target.
If Gulbis is going to achieve his ambition of reaching the top 10 he needs to win matches an titles like this one.
The crowd will obviously be with Tsonga though I don’t think they always help him. He plays his best tennis when not much is expected of him.
I am siding with Gulbis. He has a good record in finals and has played the better tennis so far this week.
Zakopalova v Nara
Zakopalova is rightly the favourite. What could make things interesting is the fact that she lost her last 5 finals. However it should be noted that she was underdog in each of those matches.
This is Nara’s first main tour final so we can expect some nerves.
Zak starts at 1.25 . I certainly won’t be backing her at that price. Once she settles into the match Nara may feel she has nothing to lose. Zak is approaching the twilight of her career and as i said above this is the first time she will start as favourite in a final for a while. How many more chances is she going to have?
A lay below 1.20 is a decent option or we can wait for a higher price to back Zakopalova. I think we may see a scrappy final but she will come through in the end.
Delray Beach, 20:00
Anderson v Cilic
Cilic’s ban last season seems to have given him a new drive to make the most of his talent. His new coach appears to be working out too and he is in his third consecutive final. He won in Zagreb but lost out to Berdych in Rotterdam.
Three finals in 3 weeks has to take its toll no matter how motivated you are.
I have gone against Anderson a couple of times this week which obviously turned out badly. He didn’t end last season well and before the week I had seen nothing from him to tell me there had been an improvement.
Anderson lost the first set of his opening match but has played himself into some form as the week wore on. He had a bit of luck when in form Karlovic got sick and pulled out of their match in round 2. Johnson didn’t put up as much resistance in the semi final as I thought he would but Anderson served well and closed out each set easily.
Cilic hasn’t lost a set so far which will have helped his energy levels a little. As long as h doesn’t have any physical issues other than fatigue I expect him to take this. 1.40 is a little tight though as it should be a serve dominated match but Cilic will be harder to break. If I can get 1.65 I’ll be happy with that.