TENNIS analyst Gavin Mair (@gavinnightmair) has enjoyed a great US Open. Here's his take on Friday night's action from Day 12 at Flushing Meadows.
Day 11 couldn’t have gone any better.
Our Serena Williams bet to win in straight sets landed without any worry. Williams looked at her dominant best as she crushed Anastasija Sevastova for the loss of only three games.
That match was followed by 33/1 outright selection Naomi Osaka battling into the final at the expense of Madison Keys. The Japanese player gave up plenty of break chances but was miles better than Keys on the big pressure points.
The women’s final takes place on Saturday and we can put our feet up and enjoy that one as we have Serena outright at 9/2 and Osaka at 33/1.
Friday is men’s semi-final day and we start with a strong hand as we have Rafa Nadal outright at 3/1 and 13/1 on Juan Martin Del Potro. I fully anticipate that the winner of that contest will play Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final.
Djokovic will play Kei Nishikori and the Serbian has a formidable record against his opponent. He leads the head to head 15-2 and has won 13 in a row. He has secured nine of his 15 victories in straight sets but, I don’t trust Djokovic’s concentration – and potentially fitness – in a five set grinding match as this will likely be.
The longer that Djokovic is on court, the better for our outright! I do however see an angle worth taking in the other semi.
Rafael Nadal v Juan Martin del Potro | Friday 7th September 2018, 21:00 | Amazon Prime
From everything I have seen of both players in this tournament, I think Del Potro can do the business against Nadal.
Del Po has a long term losing record against the Spaniard, and since his comeback from a serious wrist injury the Argentine trails 3-1 in their head-to-head. However, in matches played on hard court they are tied at one apiece.
Nadal provides a difficult match up for del Potro and that is exposed on most surfaces. When they met in the Wimbledon semi-final the match went to five sets but Nadal edged it, by proving solid defensively and doing enough to deprive del Potro of time on the ball when the pressure was on.
On the clay courts of Roland Garros the big man never stood a chance against the King of Clay.
If del Potro could choose any surface to take on Nadal he would choose a slow-medium paced hard court, like the US Open, which allows his formidable serve to tick over and for plenty of time to wind up his groundstrokes.
The Argentine was bettered at this stage of the tournament by Nadal last season, but he came into that match on the back of two five setters. He took the first set but had nothing left in the tank allowing the always solid Rafa to take advantage.
This year though it is his opponent who starts this match having had to grind his way through the draw. Nadal has had a tough fortnight having survived a barrage of attacking tennis from Karen Khachanov, Nikoloz Basilashvili and Dominic Thiem.
The world number one is a tough nut to crack as all three big hitters found out, but the warning signs are there. The Spaniard has shown signs of knee pain, that has been prevalent throughout a lot of his career, and against del Potro he faces a more complete hard court player than he has during his struggles this week.
I think del Potro is well positioned to have a rare successful day against Nadal and he is worthy of backing to win the match at 13/10 with Betfair. Furthermore, I am tempted to take advantage of an interesting stat that I read last night on Reddit – not the most obvious source for tennis betting wisdom.
The stat reads that Nadal’s last seven Slam losses have all been five-setters – 2015 USO Fognini, 2016 AO Verdasco, 2016 USO Pouille, 2017 AO Federer, 2017 Wimbledon Muller, 2018 AO Cilic and 2018 Wimbledon Djokovic.
Nadal has had two days between matches to rest. Whilst del Potro is clearly playing good tennis at the moment it is clear that Nadal is a hard mountain for him to conquer.
I don’t see this being a -0 del Potro victory – unless Nadal is injury hampered – and given Nadal’s never say die attitude it may be worth chancing a small play on the 3-2 del Potro victory available at 11/2 with Bet365.