WE were a little unlucky with the ‘no tie breaks’ bet in the Dominic Thiem versus Taylor Fritz match, with the one breaker coming in set three after Fritz had led 4-2 before taking a MTO. It was the only tie break in the match.
Things looked good for our underdog wager on Denis Shapovalov, who was 1.51 in-play from an SP of around 3.0 against Kevin Anderson after taking set one and Anderson having had an off-court MTO.
The 19-year-old let that disturb his concentration though and one donation of his serve, due to a lack of first serves and basic errors, in each of the next two sets left him demoralised.
He fought back well in the fourth to grab it and take us to a fifth, but then my stream stopped working, Anderson broke, and Shapovalov was unable to take any of his break back points, of which there were quite a few.
On the plus side, those who took the over 9.5 or over 10.5 in set on of Rafael Nadal’s clash with Karen Khachanov would have enjoyed a nice winner, but on the day seven of eight favourites won in the men’s singles.
In the last six years there have never been fewer than three underdog winners in round three (maximum is five), so hopefully there’ll be a at least a couple on Saturday.
The forecasters are predicting a cloudy day with a 25% chance of rain here and there and temperatures around the 26C mark. Humidity will be around the 60% mark and wind speeds around 13kph, so on the whole decent conditions for Saturday.
The big question is do we take on Roger Federer and hope for a performance from Nick Kyrgios? Other underdogs who look more than capable of causing problems for the favourites on Saturday include Philipp Kohlschreiber, Diego Schwartzman, Mikhail Kukushkin and maybe Jan-Lennard Struff.
Philipp Kohlschreiber vs Alexander Zverev
I think we have to take on this daft price of 1.11 on Zverev in this all-German affair against Kohlschreiber, whose talents are not being given any respect at all by these odds.
Considering that Zverev is 2-8 against top-50 ranked opponents in Grand Slams (and he should have lost the two that he won, but for chokes by Damir Dzumhur in particular and Karen Khachanov at the French this year) I’d be terrified If I were lumping on Zverev at 1.11 here.
There doesn’t seem to be any real reason that I can fathom why Zverev keeps on throwing in poor performances in majors, but he also does it on the tour as well, with an epic sequence of chokes to lose from 1.01 against Stefanos Tsitsipas a few weeks back.
That was followed by another heavy odds-on loss in-play against Robin Haase in Cincy, so while this disturbing (if you’ve backed him) tendency to collapse mentally (and sometimes physically too) is still around he’s a candidate to be taken on at this price.
Zverev’s had two gimmes so far this week against Peter Polansky and an ageing Nicolas Mahut and this looks a big step up in class against Kohlschreiber, whose stats are still good on hard courts and also here at the US Open.
The older German is on a hold/break total of 104.8 in the last 12 months on outdoor hard and 106.2 for his career at the Open, where his last five defeats have been against Roger Federer (twice), Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and a retirement.
He’s also beaten John Isner here as underdog on three occasions, so he’s well used to causing upsets in New York, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he produced another upset win here.
If Zverev produces his best form he’ll probably win it in three, but he can’t be relied on by any means to do that in majors and the over 33.5 games at 1.90 or over 3.5 sets at 2.07 look the bets here, with Kohli hardly ‘Mr Reliable’ either.
Indeed, if we look at Kohli’s results when he’s lost the opening two sets of a best-of-five set match he’s invariably gone on to lose in three.
He’s gone 0-2 down 39 times in his career, losing 36 of those matches, and only twice in his last 20 when he’s gone 0-2 down has he taken the match to a fourth set.
Zverev has played very well against Kohli in their last two meetings and he may well do again today, but I wouldn’t bank on it at 1.11.
Diego Schwartzman vs Kei Nishikori
We’re on Schwartzman to win this quarter at a very nice price of 33-1 and I give him a good chance of upsetting Nishikori in their (not before) 22:00 UK time clash on Grandstand.
Schwartzman’s record, both on outdoor hard and here in New York doesn’t look like it’s being given the respect it deserves and facing an opponent with a similarly weakish serve he’s not likely to get blown away by the Japanese.
Indeed, both men have held their own deal 77% of the time in the last 12 months on outdoor hard, but Schwartzman has broken a good 7.5% more often than Nishikori and I’m expecting a few breaks of serve in this one.
Nishikori still hasn’t broken the 100 mark on his combined hold/break total in the last 12 months on this surface at main level and he’s being judged here on past performances and a decent start to this tournament.
Max Marterer, like most lefties, is a good match-up for Kei though and Gael was injured (and played way too defensively at the start), so the Japanese looks short here.
He’s beaten the Argentine in both of their past career meetings from a set down, but both were on clay and both were before the wrist injury that’s derailed Nishikori this season and, for me, reduced the quality and consistency of his forehand.
Indeed, Kei’s best results this season have come on clay (Monte-Carlo final) and Schwartzman has said that hard is his favourite surface, as it gives him more reward for his attacking shots.
It should be a great match to watch, with no tie breaks also a distinct possibility between these two excellent returners, but I think there’s some value on Schwartzman here at 2-1.
Nick Kyrgios vs Roger Federer
Ignoring all the hoopla that surrounds Kyrgios wherever he goes and focusing on what he can bring to the tennis court isn’t easy and rarely do I fancy putting any faith (or any money) in the hands of the unpredictable Aussie, but he has a shot today.
These matches against the elite generally tend to bring the best out in him and with no extreme heat to moan about today (although I’m sure he’ll find something else that annoys him) I’m expecting a performance.
I don’t expect him to win the match necessarily, but either set one to the Aussie at 2.70 or 7-6 to him in set one at 6.0 look like the wagers of interest.
If we look at all four of their career clashes they’ve all been very tight indeed, with three of them being decided by final set tie breaks and the other (in Laver Cup) going to 11-9 in the final set.
Breaks of serve in this match-up are rare, with eight of the nine sets they’ve contested at main level going to breakers and each man holding serve over 90% of the time.
For whatever reason Federer hasn’t been able to produce his best at the US Open lately, with just one final since 2009, and at 37-years-old and a confidence-denting display in Cincy to think about too I’m happy to take him on a bit here.
Fed didn’t look great against Benoit Paire either, with his forehand errant and the Frenchman helped him out with a series of untimely double faults.
You never know what you’ll get from Kyrgios, but as underdog in a match-up that he clearly relishes he’s worthy of some sort of interest.
Elsewhere, it’s hard to imagine Richard Gasquet having anything like the belief that he can beat Novak Djokovic for the first time since 2007, given his 4-46 record against the trio of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer.
He hasn’t beaten any of them for seven years and while Djokovic has dropped a set in each of his opening two matches here there’s always a feeling of inevitability when he steps on court against the elite.
If he takes a big chance and steps up to the baseline and goes for it then he has the tools, but he very rarely seems comfortable doing it and even at a big price the Gasman doesn’t tempt me.
Jan-Lennard Struff could well have a set in him against David Goffin, with the Belgian surely being delighted at this drop in temperature in New York, and the 3-1 to Goffin in set betting looks one to consider at around 3.70.
Struff’s coming off the back of a five setter in which he had to put Julien Benneteau into retirement, so I’m not sure I fancy him to get the win, but when his game is on he can trouble the best with his power.
Goffin’s likely to prove too solid in the end, but if Struff has a good day it could be interesting.
The match between John Millman and Mikhail Kukushkin features two players that really struggle to serve out sets and matches and some in-play betting might be in order in this one.
It was painful watching Kuku trying to serve out sets against an ailing Hyeon Chung and Millman is no slouch in the choking stakes either, so this is one to perhaps try and evaluate in-play for me.
I wouldn’t trust Lucas Pouille’s stamina if his clash with Joao Sousa went long, with the Frenchman looking gaunt in his match with Marcos Baghdatis and he looks like he’s lost weight.
Given his results in the last few months too, all doesn’t look well with him and while he should be too much for Sousa on a hard court he’ll have to play well, as Sousa will be all over him if he doesn’t impose himself.
Finally, on the form of his last round against Hubert Hurkacz Marin Cilic should have too many weapons for Alex De Minaur over the best of five sets, but slower conditions at night may favour the Aussie.
I wouldn’t bet on Cilic producing the same, almost perfect, match that he came out with against Hurkacz, and De Minaur is a far better mover and retriever than the big Pole.
Anything’s possible with Cilic, as he showed again at Wimbledon against Guido Pella, but he should be able to wear De Minaur down in the end and this looks another 3-1 set betting proposition to consider.