Not a good day for favourites! Ferrer was outplayed by Davydenko. Berdych lost in 3 sets to Bautista Agut. Wawrinka went down in straight sets and Cilic couldn’t get past Paire in their 3 setter.
Tonight’s first match isn’t until 1am. The final in Auckland is between Radwanska and Wickmayer. Radwanska is obviously strong favourite but Wickmayer has beaten her before. They have played 5 sets before today and 4 of them were extremely close. 3 saw the players separated by a single break and one was a tie break..
In the semi final Radwanska came up against Jamie Hampton who has been the highlight of the week for me. Hampton served for the opening set at 6-5 but was broken having wasted a set point. Radwanska took the set in the tie break. The American continued her bad habit of playing a superb first set and then tuning out at the start of the second. Radwanska raced to a 4-0 lead but Hampton pulled back to 4-4 and again Rad won the set in a tie break. I can’t help feeling that if Radwanska was at the top of her game this would have been an easier win.
Wickmayer has been impressive this week.. Her confidence has been high although that confidence took a serious hit in the second set of her semi final. She had dominated the opening set against a nervous Barthel but in set 2 Barthel started playing much more freely. Wickmayer was broken 3 times and her spirit appeared to be broken. She pulled herself together well in the decider and took it in a tie break.
Radwanska starts at 1.31 and based on their previous meetings and the events of this week that has to be a lay. I think in the end it will come down to who is tougher mentally and that award will most definitely go to Radwanska. I expect either 3 sets or 2 very tight ones.
Dimitrov has taken some impressive scalps this week. Raonic and Melzer were both despatched in straight sets. He starts as very slight favourite against Baghdatis. Baggy was more consistent than spectacular in his straight sets win over Gilles Simon.
Dimitrov has served well and has been brokwn just once. Baghdatis has served well too although has needed to rely on his ground strokes rather than booming serves to get the job done.
This is a tough one to predict but I am sticking with Baghdatis. As I said yesterday he usually starts the season well and is comfortable in Australia. I expect him to edge this in 3 sets.
Davydenko and Gasquet will fight it out for the title in Doha. Davy loves this tournament. He won the title in 2010. In 2011 he lost in the final to Federer. Last year he was unlucky enough to draw Fed in the first round. Davy served exceptionally well in beating Ferrer in straight sets in the semi final.
Gasquet hasn’t been tested this week. I think this will be a close final but Davydenko will be lifting the trophy at the end. He starts at 1.60 which is no value at all so I will be waiting for nearer evens before backing him.