It was one win and one defeat for our bets on Friday in Rotterdam and New York, as Jannik Sinner was edged out by Pablo Carreno Busta, while Miomir Kecmanovic won a similarly tight one against Ugo Humbert.
I’d opted for the straight sets bets with Sinner, so I wasn’t put through the pain of Sinner having had two match points at 6-4 in the final set tie break, but the young Italian would have been beaten before then had PCB either served it out or taken three match points the game after.
Only one point separated Sinner and PCB and three between Humbert and Kecmanovic, so 1-1 doesn’t feel like a bad result.
There was good news on the outright front, as Casper Ruud continued his excellent week in Buenos Aires with another straight sets win, this time over third-seeded Dusan Lajovic.
Ruud will now face Juan Ignacio Londero for a place in the final and for us to collect on the each-way part of our 25-1 outright investment on the young Norwegian.
Londero and Ruud have only met once before and it was way back in 2016 at the Lima Challenger when Ruud comfortably defeated lucky loser Londero 6-2, 6-1 as a 1.56 chance.
Needless to say, I’d be delighted at a repeat of that scoreline, but these semi finals haven’t exactly been kind to us in the last year or so and while Ruud has been in great form and has produced some supreme numbers this week: 95.9% holds and 49% breaks.
It’ll be a clash of two similar styles, with both men very much favouring the aggressive forehand to win them points and it may be the backhand battle that has a big say in proceedings today, as well as the serve, which has also been impressive from Ruud so far.
The incentive could scarcely be bigger for both men after a farcical quarter final evening in Buenos Aires that saw an epic choke from Pablo Cuevas against a barely moving Diego Schwartzman and a similarly timid effort from Thiago Monteiro versus a physically compromised Pedro Sousa.
The upshot of it all is that Schwartzman may or may not show for today’s semi final due to a hamstring injury:
“In the first point of the game in favour I threw a crossback with the leg apart and felt a whiplash in the hamstring. It hurts a lot.”
The fact that Schwartzman is as big as 1.37 to beat a barely fit Pedro Sousa is probably a good indication on Schwartzman’s own physical condition.
So, the winner of Ruud/Londero has a great chance of the title it would appear, with lucky loser Sousa also struggling with injury. Let’s see what happens with Ruud today.
Saturday’s action begins in Rotterdam at (not before) 14:00 UK time when Pablo Carreno Busta faces Felix Auger-Aliassime for the first time in his career and this one isn’t easy to call.
FAA has that extra firepower at his disposal that’s seen him send down almost an ace per game this week (0.91) and hold serve 88% of the time, but PCB has also held 88% of the time, albeit in a less eye-catching manner.
Indeed, their stats this week are very similar apart from, surprisingly perhaps, in the break of serve department, where Auger-Aliassime has broken his opponents 24.2% of the time, while PCB has managed it only 14% of the time.
For PCB it’s a similar match-up to that of Jannik Sinner in a young, hungry opponent going full bore on attack and trying to break down the steely defences of the Spaniard.
Sinner didn’t quite do well enough on his second serve, where he was around 45% for much of the match and he’ll be disappointed at only converting two of 14 break chances against PCB.
For FAA as well he’ll face a similar opponent on Saturday to the one he beat on Friday, with both PCB and Bedene solid and consistent from the back, but Bedene packs more of a punch on serve than PCB.
I’d take FAA to win this one, but he’s plenty short enough to do so at 1.60, which is more or less the same price as Gael Monfils is to beat Filip Krajinovic for the second time in two weeks.
As ever, Monfils is impossible to call, with his latest episode being a lengthy MTO against Dan Evans on Friday that totally put the Brit off his stride, and having failed to serve out the opener Evans faded badly.
Last week in quicker conditions in Montpellier, Krajinovic had his chances against Monfils, leading in the opening set tie break, but proceeded to lose the next five points from 4-2 and he was never a factor after that.
There’s a fair chance that Krajinovic could turn it around against what’s probably a tired Monfils, but neither Rotterdam semi looks good for a bet to me.
It’s been a dramatic week in New York, too, with the slow conditions there contributing surely to all of the many big servers in the field falling before the semi final stage.
All four of yesterday’s winners in New York dropped the opening set and came back to win and frankly anything is possible in Long Island on Saturday now.
The two favourites today, Kyle Edmund and Andreas Seppi, both have weak records in semi finals and can't be trusted as a consequence.
Seppi is a woeful 9-22 win/loss (29%) in main level semi finals, losing seven of his last eight, while Edmund’s win rate is even worse at 22% (2-7 win/loss).
Edmund was gifted a tight match by an awful double fault on match point by Soon Woo Kwon on Friday and in what will be a first career clash with Miomir Kecmanovic there may be some value on the Serb.
It’s certainly fair to say that Kecmanovic has played the better tennis and been more comfortable with his game in the past year or so and he’s produced the better stats, too.
Kecmanovic has won 57% of his main level matches on all surfaces (29-22 win/loss) in the last 12 months, holding serve more often and breaking more often than Edmund (82.7% holds/21% breaks for a 103.7 total).
Edmund has managed a win rate of just 45.2% (19-23 win/loss) and has a hold/break total of 99.8 (80.6% holds/19.2% breaks) and his weak record in semis can only be a negative for the Brit.
Indeed, there isn’t one statistical category that Edmund is better than Kecmanovic in the last 12 months at main level and I suppose the question to answer is: is Edmund back to his level of old?
I’ve not seen much evidence to suggest that he is and the prices look the wrong way round here to me, while Edmund has also lost 10 of the last 14 matches he’s played at main level when he’s been priced up as favourite between 1.70 and 1.99.
Seppi will face qualifier Jason Jung, who’s been dismantling the big servers all week, beating Reilly Opelka and Kevin Anderson to make his maiden tour level semi final.
He was a tad fortunate against Opelka that the electronic line calling wasn’t working, which annoyed Opelka immensely, but Jung has been solid and I couldn’t rule him out against Seppi in conditions that are slower than ideal for the Italian, whose match last night also finished very late.
“The court is slow, it's got a lot of sand in it,” Edmund said. “It's quite gritty… when the new balls are in play they zip off the court, but they very quickly slow up.”
So, two interesting New York semis, and what slight value there is today looks to be on Kecmanovic, while much of my focus today will be on seeing if Ruud can break our longstanding run of bad luck in semi finals.
0.5 points win Kecmanovic to beat Edmund at 2.07