This week we have seen some decent tennis. A better standard than I remember from last season. The issue in 2014 seems to be match fitness. The players have performed pretty much as expected but if the matches have gone into a third set the result has been decided more on who is closer to being fully match fit rather than who is the better player. I expect this to improve by the end of next week at the latest.
The Auckland final between Venus Williams and Ivanovic has been covered for the Shark Tips service. I am looking forward to it and think it will be a fascinating match.
The first Brisbane semi final between Hewitt and Nishikori is also covered for Shark Tips.
Federer has been comfortable all week although I’m told Matosevic made his life about as easy as possible with a joke of a performance.
Chardy has had all close sets and has ridden his luck at times but you have to expect that his luck is about to run out.
Several players have the ability to trouble Federer these days but even though he has never met Chardy before I’m not convinced that Chardy has the mental strength to hold his game together against Fed.
1.08 is a lay price but in this case I would be waiting for a slow start from Federer to get a better price to back him. In reality so much will have to happen before its a worth while price.
Update: Federer won 6-3, 6-7, 6-3.
The Shenzen final fittingly has two Chinese players in it. Li Na is a strong favourite against Peng with a starting price of 1.16 .
They have played five times (plus one walkover for Li) and Li won 4 times.
Of the two players Li is the only one to have lost a set this week which was the second set to Niculescu. Peng had a walkover into the final when Vania King withdrew from the tournament.
There’s always a chance that Li will start slowly but it would be a huge upset if she didn’t take this final easily.
The Brisbane final is between Serena Williams and Azarenka.
Serena has a 14-3 head to head record. They met 3 times in 2013 on hard courts. All three matches went to 3 sets. Azarenka won two of the matches. She also won in a tie break in each of the matches.
Both players have looked vulnerable on serve at times this week although both have decent stats from the service line.
Williams will be keen to keep pressure on her nearest rival and I think she will be taking this match VERY seriously. Azarenka has the game to push Williams close as she has in their most recent hard court encounters.
Williams’ SP is 1.20 and I’d be looking to lay her below 1.10 and 1.15 . I think it may be too early in the season for Azarenka to grab her fourth win over the Beast.
Update:Serena Williams won 6-4, 7-5.
The Chennai tournament is at the semi final stage. The first one has Granollers against Roger-Vasselin.
Both had an easy run to the quarter finals. Once there Granollers came up against Frenchman Paire. I had expected Paire to win that match if he played his best tennis. In the end it was settled in a third set tie break.
Roger Vasselin had Dudi Sela in his quarter final and whilst the stats favoured Vasselin there was a lot of people thinking Sela had a strong chance. Sela was able to take the second set in a tie break but didn’t win a single game in the deciding set.
They start around evens which feels about right. The stats again slightly favour Roger Vasselin. If Granollers drops below 1.60 in the early games I will start laying him.
Update: Roger-Vasselin won 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.
Chennai’s second semi final sees Wawrinka take on Pospisil. Wawrinka is rightly a strong favourite and his price of 1.27 is probably about right.
Pospisil is capable of taking a set and it would be great if it is the first one but it would need Wawrinka to be below par for him to lose this one. I will be waiting for a stronger price of above 1.50 to 1.60 before backing Stan.
Update: No higher price. Wawrinka won 6-4, 5-5(ret)
Finally the Doha final will be between Nadal and Monfils. Nadal starts at 1.46 which seems like a decent price but he hasn’t been at his best this week. In contrast Monfils has been at his entertaining best.
They last met in this same event in 2012. Monfils won their semi final in straight sets.
Obviously if Nadal plays his best tennis he will win so it is his to lose. I think it should be a very entertaining match. I think we will get a higher price to back Nadal and will be surprised if he doesn’t get a little revenge for their last result.
Update: Nadal won 6-1, 6-7, 6-2.