IT'S day 12 of the US Open and we have the men’s semi-finals with tournament favourite Rafael Nadal among those in action on Friday in New York.
My men’s outright buster Kevin Anderson, who beat my 75-1 shot Sam Querrey in the quarters takes on unlikely semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta in the first of the men’s semis on Friday at around 9pm.
That’s followed by Rafa Nadal v Juan Martin del Potro at about 10.30pm UK time.
Weather-wise we shouldn’t need the roof today, with a coolish, cloudy and windy day forecast.
Kevin Anderson v Pablo Carreno Busta
Sometimes you get good draws at majors and PCB has certainly enjoyed one of the kindest routes to a Grand Slam semi-final that he could possibly have wished for having faced four qualifiers and an injured Diego Schwartzman to make the semis.
Anderson was a little lucky too in the sense he was slated to play Alexander Zverev in round three, with the German having comfortably beaten Anderson twice this hard court swing, but Zverev fell early and the South African has taken full advantage.
Despite the frustration of having backed Querrey in this bottom half of the draw I’m delighted for Anderson who as I’ve mentioned before I have a lot of time for and he deserves this shot at a major final.
I’m not sure I can say the same about PCB though, whose charmed run to this stage is surely as far as he goes, with the firepower of Anderson likely to prove too much for the Spaniard to deal with.
The pair clashed a few weeks ago in Montreal in similar conditions and Anderson was a fairly comfortable winner, although it should be noted Carreno Busta was in the very early stages of his comeback from injury in that match.
The Spaniard is capable on outdoor hard and his hold/break stats this season indicate that, with 83% holds and 26.4% breaks for a total of 109.4, which is very good, but those numbers have been boosted by facing weak opposition in New York.
Anderson is only slightly ahead on 109.8 (91.3% holds/18.5% breaks) and his price of 1.4 seems rather short considering he was a 1.64 shot in Montreal and PCB has now had plenty of matches on hard courts under his belt again.
But PCB has no sort of record against big servers away from clay, with a 2-11 record against the ones in my database on hard courts, and losses in his last seven going back two years.
I expect Anderson will win it and -1.5 sets looks the bet but it’s a tad short at 1.74.
Rafael Nadal v Juan Martin Del Potro
Has this unpredictable US Open got one more shock up its sleeve one wonders? And if it has then Delpo is the man to provide it after an amazing comeback against Dominic Thiem followed up by knocking out Roger Federer.
Now he takes on Nadal, who he has beaten five times from nine matches on outdoor hard, including their only clash in the last four years which came at the Rio Olympics last season.
That was a deciding set tiebreak win for Delpo but it should be noted Nadal had played twice the previous day due to rain delays and this time you’d expect Delpo to be the one likely to be struggling a bit physically.
The comeback against Thiem after suffering from a virus must have taken something out of him but he came back well to beat a below-par Federer whose tactics were highly questionable, hitting far too often to the Delpo forehand.
No doubt Nadal will try to hit mainly cross court with his forehand to Delpo’s backhand but if the Tower of Tandil is able to get his own forehand into play the upset could be on the cards.
Over the years on outdoor hard in those nine matches it’s Del Potro who has held serve more often by a small margin against Nadal at 79.2% compared to the 78.3% of the time that Rafa has held serve against Delpo.
Many of those clashes were between five and 10 years ago though and before the second major wrist injury put paid to the Del Potro backhand as a weapon but he didn’t seem to use the slice that much against Federer and we’ll see how well he can hit it against Nadal.
It’s clearly a match-up that Rafa won’t be looking forward to on a hard courtb ut as ever both men have been playing down their chances with Delpo saying: “Against Rafa it will be a much harder match. I am not in good condition.”
Nadal thinks he's underdog in pretty much every match he plays but he rarely is and I just think he’s a bit short here if – and it’s guesswork – if Del Potro is fit enough to go the distance.
I can see this one going to at least four sets and over 37.5 games looks the wager here at 1.81 and I’m also tempted by no tie breaks at 2.35, with only three of their nine clashes on outdoor hard having featured tie breaks.
Sean's Best Bet
- 1.5pts win over 37.5 games in Nadal v Del Potro
- (4-5, Unibet)