Andy Murray v Kei Nishikori
There have been two epic matches between Kei Nishikori and Andy Murray this season and those two five setters have been split with one win apiece. The most recent match took place at the US Open when Nishikori battled back from 2-1 down in sets to win that match and snap a four match losing run to Murray, but the new World Number 1 can earn a measure of revenge for that defeat on Wednesday.
[expand title=”Read More…” swaptitle=”Hide” trigpos=”below” rel=”star-highlander” ]
There were some nerves initially in the way Murray began this tournament, but he looked a much stronger player by the time the end of the victory over Marin Cilic was being completed. He can’t afford a slow start in this one against a confident Nishikori who dismissed Stan Wawrinka as easily as he did on Monday, although I do have to say I feel the Swiss player made life much more comfortable for Nishikori than it should have been.
The Murray levels don’t fluctuate as much as Wawrinka’s do and Nishikori has to get far more than 45% of first serves in play if he wants to win and virtually move through to the Semi Finals here. It is Murray who has the far bigger serve and he is one of the more attacking returners when he sees the second serve and I think having a win under his belt in the Group should relax Murray for a better all around performance than he had on Monday.
Their Davis Cup tie produced some tight sets, but Murray has used his dominance in the service stats to help break the Nishikori serve a couple of times and set up a comfortable set or two. That could be a key in this match as I can see Murray taking a set either 61 or 62 which will give him a chance to cover this number even if he needs three sets to win the match.
Murray won two of the first three sets at the US Open and would have covered this number as he did at the Olympic Games and in their two meetings in 2015. The Davis Cup tie looks the exception to the rule and I will back the World Number 1 to move to the brink of winning this Group and avoiding a potential Semi Final with Novak Djokovic.
Tennis Handicap Betting Pick: Andy Murray -4.5 Games @ 1.99 with Eastbridge Sports Betting Brokerage
Stan Wawrinka v Marin Cilic
I have really no idea why Stan Wawrinka looked as flat as he did in the defeat to Kei Nishikori on Monday, but it might have something to do with what he admits to anyone who listens. Wawrinka has made it clear that he doesn’t think about cracking the Novak Djokovic-Andy Murray top two positions in the World Rankings because of his lack of consistency and Wawrinka can sometimes produce some of these really strange performances.
He can get away with it to some extent at the World Tour Finals with another chance to get back into the Group and maintain his run of Semi Final appearances at this tournament. I do worry that the conditions are not suiting him as much as usual with the slightly speedier courts taking away some of the time Wawrinka likes, but I am going to back him as the underdog on Wednesday evening.
Wawrinka holds a dominant 10-2 head to head record with Marin Cilic who blew a big opportunity to beat Andy Murray on Monday. It is Wawrinka who has won six in a row against Cilic and I do have to say that he produced a listless performance against Rafael Nadal in his opening match last season before turning it around with two Group wins and a place in the Semi Finals.
There is no doubt that Wawrinka has to serve better than he did on Monday, but Cilic will have some mental obstacles to overcome too. Those losses to Wawrinka won’t be easy to forget and he will know he had his chances against Murray, while Cilic might also be thinking ahead to the Davis Cup Final that is upcoming.
It is the expectation that Wawrinka will be better than Monday which drives my pick. With that head to head over Cilic behind him and the fact that all is not lost for him in the Group, Wawrinka can’t be any worse than he was on Monday and I expect he wins a tight match outright. However I will take the games being given to him in what could be a tough match that goes down to the wire and will look for the Swiss player to set up a huge match with Andy Murray which will decide his fate in the Group for a second year in a row.
Tennis Handicap Betting Pick: Stan Wawrinka + 1.5 Games @ 2.0 with Pinnacle
Prices correct at time of writing.