11 Jan 2014 – The Finals

In Hobart I don’t think anyone expected Zakopalova to be in the final. I certainly didn’t and have been going against her all week and will be doing so again today. Some people just never learn!

Standing in her way this time is Muguruza who is in her first WTA final. Like Zakopalova she hasn’t lost a set all week so something has to give tonight.

Zakopalova has lost her last 5 WTA finals and we have to go back to 2005 to find the last time she won a WTA title.

They have played just once before which was in 2012 on a hard court in Seoul. Zakopalova won in a third set tie break. Muguruza’s game has developed a great deal since then.

I think Muguruza may suffer a few early nerves and will probably fall behind in the opening set but once she finds her feet I feel she has a game that can take advantage of the errors that Zak is bound to produce.

Muguruza in 3 sets.

Update: Zak finally played like Zak. Muguruza won 6-4, 6-0.

 

In Auckland Lu has already played 4 matches. He withdrew last week and he may well be hurting. His injury hasn’t affected his play so far and he knocked out David Ferrer in straight sets last night. Ferrer won’t have been winning many cheap points on his serve so Lu will have to work a lot harder for his points against Isner.

The big American performed another Houdini act yesterday. Bautista Agut served for the match in the second set but choked it away and Isner was able to take the set in a tie break and finish the job in the third.

Lu has a good record in finals but they were all in Challenger events and also mostly in Asia. Isner lost his last 2 finals to Nadal and Del Potro although pushed things really close. He won his 4 finals prior to those.

Isner’s serve stays solid even when he is exhausted or under pressure and I think this will be enough to bring him through for the title.

Update: Isner won 7-6, 7-6.

 

The Sydney final sees Tomic trying to defend his only ATP title. Standing in his way is Del Potro who is using this event to prepare himself for the Australian Open.

Tomic had looked pretty good up until his semi final with Stakhovsky. He made a great start to the match but couldn’t hold onto the lead and lost the opening set in a tie break. He did fight back and a late break in  the second leveled the match and he was able to hold his nerve in the third.

They have played once before and Del Potro was an easy winner but we should expect Tomic to fight in front of his home crowd to try to keep his title.

I think Del Potro will be too strong for the Aussie. I think Tomic will put up a good fight in the opening set but if it doesn’t go his way I’m not sure he has the mental strength to come back from a set down.

Update: Del Potro won 6-3, 6-1.

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10 Jan 2014 – 3am start!

So do we try to get some sleep before the matches? I’m not sure I’ll wake up if I try that. I might just watch a film instead.

The first match is at 3 and it is the first semi final in Hobart. Stosur is usually preparing for losing in the early rounds of the Australian Open but she has continued her slight improvement that she made in 2013 into this new season.

Her opponent is Zakopalova who has somehow survived this far. She seems to be able to drag her opponents down to her level but won’t find it easy to do the same tonight.

Stosur leads the head to heads 3-1 but their only recent match was in Moscow in 2012. Stosur won easily in 2 sets.

Zakopalova has played her best tennis this week in the opening sets so once again I think we will get a much better price on Stosur. Stosur starts at 1.36 but she has twice been taken to 3 sets this week.

Stosur to win in 2 tight sets or perhaps 3.

 

In Sydney Del Potro has needed 3 sets in each of his two matches. He has looked rusty but must surely now be in a position to play nearer the standard we expect from him.

4th seed Tursunov needed 3 sets to beat Rosol in his first match but a potentially tricky quarter final against Istomin saw him win in straight sets.

Del Potro won both their previous meetings although in their most recent in August last year they went to 3 sets.

I’m going with Del Potro to get the win but we’re getting to the stage where those players with a chance of doing well next week may not be busting a gut if matches go against them in the first set. I will wait for a higher entry price. That also gives us the chance to take a look at how high his intensity is. Not easy to tell with Del Potro though. He always looks like he has been hit with a tranquiliser gun but with too small a dose.

 

John Isner didn’t play the Australian Open last year so he would be well advised to make the most of his run this week. He should take as many points as he can in Auckland and not really worry about fatigue for the Australian Open. Anything he gets next week is a bonus.

He has played Bautista Agut just once before. That was in September last year and Isner won in 3 sets.

Bautista Agut has dropped just one set in his 3 matches and looked impressive against Jack Sock who had put out Tommy Haas in the previous round. Isner has had to play 3 sets in both his matches including 3 tie break sets against Kohlschreiber yesterday.

I think we will see a tight match but Isner’s serve looked better against Kohlschreiber than it had against Lacko. He has the edge for me but as ever I want a higher entry price than his SP of 1.45 .

 

Ferrer has also looked rusty this week and has been taken to 3 sets n both his matches including against Olympian Donald Young in the second round. Even so I don’t expect him to have too much trouble with Lu.

Lu has had injury problems already this season and got a little lucky yesterday as he was matched against Johnson who had played two matches the previous day due to rain delays.

Ferrer to win in 2.

 

In the second semi final in Hobart we have two Spanish qualifiers playing for a place in the final.

Muguruza is a strong favourite against Cabeza Candela but it is Cabeza Candela who leads the head to heads 2-1. Both her wins were on her favoured clay with Muguruza winning their most recent match on grass last June.

It’s hard to see anything other than a Muguruza win but her SP of 1.20 is a little crazy. Either lay her to trade out higher or simply wait for a higher price to back her. Ideally, get on her when she goes a break behind in the early games.

 

In Sydney the women are already at the final and it’s Kerber and Pironkova who will battle it out for the trophy.

Pironkova has earned herself a reputation as a player who is excellent on grass but disappointingly poor on all other surfaces so it a little surprising to see her in the final. Incredibly she is yet to lose a set and has knocked out Kvitova, Errani and Cirstea.

Head to heads are 1-1 and it was Pironkova who won their last match. That was in Doha in 2012 and was also on a hard court.

Kerber lost 2 of the 3 finals she reached in 2013 but did win the most recent one in LInz. This is Pironkova’s first main tour final.

I am going with a Kerber win in 3 sets.

 

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9 Jan 2014 – Wednesday night shift

Bautista Agut and Sock should have a decent battle tonight.

Bautista Agut beat Paire in straight sets and Sock knocked out a very rusty Tommy Haas in 2.

I was very impressed with Sock. With a name like his it’s easy to not take him seriously but a few years ago the same could be said of Mardy Fish. Sock’s game has matured since I last saw him and he is a lot more than just a decent server. Shot selection was very solid.

Bautista Agut has a decent serve and can be a tricky opponent. This will be a tough test for Sock and I have to side with the Spaniard. I won’t be backing below evens though. Bautista Agut starts at 1.75 .

Update: Bautista Agut won 6-1, 6-3.

 

Kohlschreiber starts as favourite against Isner. The big American wasn’t serving at full power against Lacko and needed 3 sets to get the win.

Isner leads the head to heads 3-2. Kohlschreiber’s two wins were both at the US Open (2012 and 2013). Two of Isner’s wins were on hard courts and all 3 of his wins went to 3 sets.

Kohlschreiber reached the final in Auckland last season where he lost to Ferrer. Isner won the title in 2010 and also reached the quarter finals in 2011.

I’m not convinced that Isner is 100% fit and will be favouring the German. Again I will be waiting to back above evens.

Update: Isner won 6-7, 7-6, 7-6.

 

Stosur traditionally doesn’t perform well in her home country. She has managed a couple of wins this week but has looked less than impressive. She needed 3 sets to get past Brengle in the first round and then scraped through against Mladenovic in a third set tie break.

Jovanovski has had an average start to the season but if she has one of her good days she is capable of at least taking Stosur to another final set.

They have only played once which was on grass in 2011. Stosur won in straight sets. I expect her to get the win today but it is unlikely she will do it the easy way.

Stosur is likely to get broken early so I will wait for that to happen before backing her.

Update: Stosur was broken early. She won 6-3, 6-2.

 

Steve Johnson had two matches yesterday and while he came through 5 tough sets against Baghdatis and Anderson his legs must be feeling a little heavy today.

Lu withdrew last week. He beat qualifier Klahn in 3 sets in the last round and starts as favourite in this match. As the match goes on I expect Johnson’s fatigue to force him to lose concentration and the errors will increase.

1.67 on Lu isn’t an attractive entry price though. Wait for higher while Johnson is still playing his best tennis.

Update: Lu won 6-4, 6-4.

 

Dolgopolov and Tomic. Can you think of two more flaky characters? This week though they have been focused and have both produced some good tennis.

They have played three times in the last 2 seasons with Dolgopolov winning the last two. They were both on clay though. The other meeting was in 2012 and on a hard court. Tomic won that one.

Dolgopolov narrowly lost in 3 sets last week against Ferrer. This week he has despatched an injured Vasselin and Janowicz fairly easily.

Tomic has responded well to the home crowd and he will be up for this but Dolgopolov loves to beat a home player and home crowd when his game is on.

1.81 on Dolgopolov seems a decent price to me and I will back with part stake at the start and see how the set progresses.

Update: Thankfully I went to bed before this one. Tomic won 6-4, 6-3.

 

 

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