THE quarter-finals went pretty much as anticipated and two winners in the form of no tiebreaks in the Novak Djokovic v Kei Nishikori match and over games in Kevin Anderson’s famous victory over Roger Federer helped us to a nice profit on the day.
It’s been a decent tournament so far, with 13 winners from 19 daily bets, and a 6.84 unit profit, with two days of men’s matches left.
Conditions and trends
Friday’s weather forecast predicts a day of showers in the Wimbledon area, with around a 50% chance of them all afternoon. It might be tricky one for the organisers, but the roof being in operation on Friday is a definite possibility if that forecast is correct.
Interestingly, given the much hotter conditions this Wimbledon, there has barely been an increase at all in the frequency of tie breaks, with so far 57% of the matches featuring one.
The five-year average between 2013 and 2017 was 55% and in 2014 it was 63%, so it’s remained pretty much on par.
The men’s semi finals between 2013 and 2017 have yielded 25% winning underdogs and a high number of tie breaks, with 70% of the matches featuring at least one – but I’m taking that trend on this time.
This decade the trend has been towards either three or four set matches, with 14 of the 16 men’s semi finals between 2010 and 2017 not needing a deciding set.
Kevin Anderson vs John Isner
I think the value here lies with either under games or set one unders, with the layers having already nailed this one on as a tie break-fest.
That would perhaps be the case in a lesser tournament, but it’s a big ask for two players not used to this sort of occasion to come out and serve impeccably from the word go – as Anderson showed in his quarter-final.
Anderson was very nervy indeed and dropped his opening service game without Roger Federer having to do much, while Isner is into a first ever Grand Slam semi final, so he’s bound to be nervous too.
If we look back at past clashes between this pair we find that they haven’t met since 2015, so the details aren’t that relevant to Friday’s semi-final, but in 11 opening sets only five went to tie breaks and only two of the last nine.
Considering that and likely nerves as well I’m happy to take under 12.5 games in set one at a price of 2.95. It’s a risky one clearly, but I think there’s some value in it.
As far as match odds are concerned, well, it’s a real pick ‘em, with Isner the steadier man in pressure situations, but it’s Anderson with the better all-round game.
I was impressed with the way that Anderson worked his way back into the match against Federer, having been poor in set one, but he was the better player in at least three of the four remaining sets.
Having to serve second in the fifth set and hold 11 times against the Swiss maestro is no mean feat and also to come out and serve it out for the win while barely making a first serve will be a major boost for his confidence in big matches.
Isner got a little lucky when Milos Raonic’s body let him down yet again in their quarter final. This time it was “a tear of the muscle,” in the thigh that was the issue for the injury-prone Canadian.
Take nothing away from Isner though; he’s been loving the harder, balder courts this year, which are bouncing higher and into his strike zone, which isn’t usually the case on grass.
He’s yet to be broken this tournament and it could well be another tough battle, with a few points deciding it, but my only wager of interest is to back a shaky start from one of them on a day that won’t be as hot and breaks of serve may be easier to come by.
Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal
It’s rare that we have two Wimbledon men’s semi-finals that the layers can’t decide who to make the favourites in, but that’s where we are in 2018’s tournament and this is another pick ‘em, but with value to be had in a side market.
The wager that stands out a mile here is the no tie breaks at a price of 3.0, with this pair of excellent returners still posting very good numbers on breaks of serve, even though neither man is the player they were a few years ago at the height of their rivalry.
Djokovic has broken serve 33.6% of the time in his last 10 matches on grass and posted a tie breaks per set mark of 0.10 in those matches, while Nadal has broken 26.6% of the time and yielded a tie breaks per set mark of 0.06.
Only two of the last 26 sets on hard courts and grass that this pair have contested have gone to breakers in what’s been a return dominated career series, so for me 3.50 on no tie breaks looks good value.
Just 13 of their 49 completed matches on all surfaces (27%) have featured a breaker and while plenty of those were on clay the ones just on hard courts and grass have seen 7 of 27 (26%) matches feature one.
In what looks a real pick ‘em of a match, with Djokovic not quite the player he was after that injury break and with a new service motion these days that is somewhat questionable in my view and Nadal rarely at his best on grass the no tie breaks bet looks much better value than the match odds.
The higher bounce this year on the firmer courts has probably helped Nadal, while Djokovic has enjoyed the lack of slippery grass on the top surface (although he’s still slipped on it a few times).
Jelena Ostapenko said that the Centre Court was “much slower than the other courts,” so these two will enjoy that and it should help the returners if it’s slower (maybe because it’s cooled down a little).
It’s a difficult one to judge, but Djokovic’s lack of really top-level matches since his comeback from injury and 4-5 record against top-10 opponents since the end of 2016 is a negative.
So is his lack of five set matches, with none played that have gone to five sets since the 2017 Australian Open (lost to Istomin) and the last time he won a five setter was March 2016 against Mikhail Kukushkin in Davis Cup.
It may not go that far of course, but I’m not totally convinced that Djokovic is quite ready for this test and if was picking a winner I’d go Nadal, but perhaps with a -4.5 games handicap at 3.0 on the possibility of the Serb fading late on.