TENNIS analyst Gavin Mair (@gavinnightmair) has enjoyed a great US Open. Here's his take on Wednesday night's action from Day 10 at Flushing Meadows.
I went to bed last night excited about how Rafa Nadal and Dominic Thiem would get on in their quarterfinal clash. When I woke up I checked my phone to see the pair were even-steven in the fifth set, and having backed a Nadal 3-2 sets victory I found the rare willingness to rise from the comfort of my bed, turn on the coffee machine and settle down in front of the TV for the closing stages of the match.
It was an exciting conclusion to the match as Nadal squandered 3 break points at 5 all, allowing the match to be settled in a nerve-jangling tiebreak. Each player had their chances, but it was Nadal who proved the more solid and landed us a nice 13/2 winner. Not a bad way to start the day!
Whilst I am obviously happy with the result you have to spare a thought for Thiem who said after the match, “That match will be stuck in my mind forever.”
We are guaranteed that one of our outright selections on the men’s side will compete for the title as 3/1 Nadal and 13/1 Del Potro will play each other in the semi-final.
Despite having staked so that I win the same amount of money if either Del Potro or Nadal wins the final, I am hoping for a Del Potro semi-final victory as I think he is in better shape to take on Novak Djokovic (in all likelihood) in the final.
On Wednesday our attention turns to the quarter-final matches at the bottom half of the draw. I am hopeful that 33/1 outright pick Naomi Osaka comes through against Lesia Tsurenko, and I fully expect Djokovic to easily progress at this expense of Roger Federer conqueror John Millman.
My attention is in the other two matches where I see value in both underdogs at their current market prices.
Marin Cilic v Kei Nishikori | Wednesday 5th September, 19:00 | Amazon Prime
This will be the 15th meeting of Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori in what is one of the more interesting rivalries in men’s tennis. The two have been top 15 players for the majority of their career and are considered to be in the tier of players slightly below the Big 5 of Federer, Djokovic, Nadal, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka.
Nishikori leads the head to head 8/6, he leads their head to head on hard courts 3/2, he has won their only in 2018, but he trails Cilic 2/1 in matches played at the US Open, which includes the 2014 final.
There is not a lot to choose between the pair and there will be an interesting match dynamic in play – how does the more aggressive Cilic control his balance of winners to unforced errors, and how well does Nishikori hold his serve?
I believe there is a decent argument that this match-up is more even than the odds indicate. The relevant data points that I have looked at for this match-up reflect favorably upon Nishikori, whilst I think Cilic is being priced on some of his recent Grand Slam form and his win over an unfit David Goffin.
I was keen to oppose Cilic in the last round, and although his victory was comfortable, he still produced a negative ratio of winners to unforced errors. Nishikori is playing in good form and with his baseline consistency can take advantage of any complacency from Cilic – much like he was able to do Monte Carlo this year when they most recent played each other.
Cilic summarised this match-up saying, “Nishikori’s playing well. We have had some tough battles.” I agree that there’s not much between them, and at the pre-match price the value is on Nishikori.
Back Nishikori at 6/4 on the Matchbook Exchange.
Carla Suarez Navarro v Madison Keys | Thursday 6th September, 00:00 | Amazon Prime
The second match of the day features Carla Suarez Navarro against Madison Keys. Despite Keys 3-0 head-to-head record, the matches have been close (all settled in three sets) and I was surprised to see Suarez Navarro at odds of 12/5 with Bet365.
There is no denying that Madison Keys is in strong form so far in this tournament, but it is also difficult to deny that Keys is a volatile commodity. The American made the final last year and made her chance at winning the title impossible by firing a ridiculous amount of nervous errors.
An error strewn performance is never far away and only two matches ago she showed signs of turbulence against Aleksandra Krunic. I think you have to be very brave to back Keys in a match of this magnitude at sub 2/5 odds.
Suarez Navarro is a very capable player and so far at this tournament she has upset several attacking players against whom she had a poor record against. In consecutive matches Suarez Navarro has ousted Kristina Mladenovic, Caroline Garcia and Maria Sharapova.
The match-up Keys brings to the table is not too dissimilar to the aforementioned trio, so the Spanish player should be well prepared for how to play this match.
I am well aware that the match is for the most part on the Keys racket – and that Keys has blasted through the defences of Suarez Navarro before. I therefore am keeping my stake conservative but i believe we will witness much more of a challenge from Suarez-Navarro than the odds indicate.
Back Carla Suarez Navarro at 12/5 with Bet365.