Andy Murray v Milos Raonic
The big serve of Milos Raonic is clearly going to be built up as the potential deciding factor in this match, but Andy Murray has shown he has the tools to blunt that weapon and make the Canadian work hard for a lot of what he earns on the court.
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It is Murray who has dominated their head to head this season and even the quicker conditions in the O2 Arena this season shouldn’t concern Murray who has beaten Raonic at the Cincinnati Masters. That is considered the fastest court along with Dubai and Murray was able to break the Raonic serve three times at that tournament and I do think he is seeing the ball big enough to make sure his opponent is not winning as many cheap points as he wants.
The second serve is where Murray will look to make hay and the limited time spent on court on Friday will certainly help him after that long match with Kei Nishikori on Wednesday. There has to be a better performance from Murray on his own serve to prevent Raonic finding a foothold in this match, but he has been solid for the most part this week and knows exactly where to serve to keep his opponent under pressure.
Murray now has seven wins in a row against Raonic and he would have covered this number in the last five best of three set matches he has played against Raonic. You would think the faster surface gives Raonic a chance to penetrate the Murray defences, but I think it takes some time away from a limited returner too and I think Murray will prove too good in the afternoon Semi Final and I will back him to come through with enough of a margin to cover this number of games.
Tennis Handicap Betting Pick: Andy Murray – 3.5 Games at 1.84 with Unibet
Novak Djokovic v Kei Nishikori
It will depend on your point of view as to why Kei Nishikori collapsed from an impressive first set to a three set loss to Marin Cilic on Friday night. Some will think Nishikori just lost his focus and didn’t put in a full effort, while others might point to some fatigue from the gruelling match with Andy Murray on Wednesday with Nishikori having conditioning issues at the back of tournaments throughout his career.
I will admit that I am in the latter camp as Marin Cilic was able to turn the match around by avoiding the unforced errors in sets two and three and forced Nishikori to go much deeper. Novak Djokovic is likely to do the same and Cilic also became the first player to actually have a lot of success against the Nishikori serve which is another area in which Djokovic can succeed in the second Semi Final at the World Tour Finals.
Tiredness is going to mean it is hard to pump the legs to pull out the big serves for Nishikori with that weakness in his game magnified when fatigue is in play. Novak Djokovic has not served as effectively as earlier in the 2016 season, but he should be much fresher and can break down the Nishikori game on his way through to the Final on Sunday.
It won’t surprise me if Nishikori is competitive through the first set, but Djokovic should be able to just drag him into deep waters at that point. Djokovic might have slipped from the standards he has set in recent years, but he has dominated Nishikori over the last twelve months and I can see the Serbian player coming through with a 75, 62 win in this one.
Tennis Handicap Betting Pick: Novak Djokovic – 4.5 Games 2.10 with Bet365
Prices correct at time of writing.