Dudi Sela

Kevin Anderson (above) proved the bigger man last night in Delray against Giant John Isner, and so today he gets to play for the title in Delray Beach.

So we had today’s finalists, Anderson and Matosevic yesterday, and we said that we expected Anderson to pick up his 2nd career title here today, in his 3rd trip to a final ever on the ATP’s main tour.  Matosevic first.  We have not seen a more unworthy finalist in some time.  We regretted going with him almost immediately, when in the 1st set, he blew a 4-1 lead and dropped that set 7-5.

When we picked up the match later on, we were as surprised as any to see the guy up 4-1 in the 3rd.  And then he proceeded to throw that away, before winning in an unlikely tie-breaker on his 6th match point.  We thought he had a solid serve game, but Dudi Sela broke him something like 6 times yesterday, and on the biggest points on his serve, he was missing the box by a mile, and even double faulted away one of those MP’s.

We just don’t like his tennis.  His forehand is loopy.  Too much air.  He was laying the forehand in play, and every ball, you felt like was going to float long because the kid hits floaters.  Almost every approach was one where he netted the volley or one where he hit a tentative volley that sat up for Sela.  Honest to God, this match was atrocious.  Imagine my horror, when returning to the set in the evening I had found that I had accidentally deleted Federer-Murray instead of Matosevic-Sela.

Well, Marinko…thanks for the memories.  We would not bet on you again with other people’s money.  No wonder this guy didn’t win a match prior to this week on the year, and in watching him, you really get to see what world #173 looks like.  He has zero chance today.  Zero.  This is going to be a one sided affair, and so even though Anderson is a healthy favorite, he is the only play.  Here are the odds:

2012 Delray Beach International Mens Tennis Championship — 3 PM EST

Kevin Anderson:  – 450

Marinko Matosevic:  + 325


Take Anderson and run.  This kid has real promise, unlike his counterpart today.  There’s a lot swirling around in the Isner-Anderson matchup, and Anderson showed us the things we thought he would.  Anderson is the better mover, and he really had his feet going last night.  We see this as a problem for Isner against guys who can hold serve well enough.  Anderson, for a 6’8 guy, does have a tennis build.  Isner is too big, and he lumbers too much.  Also, these guys know each other very well.  While Anderson is South African, he played his college tennis at Illinois, where he was an NCAA champion.  He and Isner were college rivals and are pro rivals, and we really don’t see how there is so much difference between them in the rankings, though that gap will be narrowed come tomorrow.  Isner is not a good bet against guys who hold serve the way he does.  Those matches are toss ups, decided by tie-breakers, and Isner should never be a big favorite in that situation because a tie-breaker is often decided by the smallest of margins.

Now a word on the Abierto final, in which Fernando Verdasco, a true dog’s dog (a comment about his character, not his underdog status) did not even show up, thereby costing us a very handsome four team parlay (Federer, Matosevic, Anderson, Verdasco).  Novak Djokovic once lost to Verdasco at the US Open.  That’s got to be a worse loss even than retiring due to heat exhaustion in Melbourne against Andy Roddick.  Verdasco, against a fellow countryman, completely mailed it in.

We said here yesterday that he’s poorly coached.  We’ll say it again.  Cahill is best known for his shoddy commentator gig on ESPN.  Federer hired him to coach him after splitting from Tony Roache, and then fired him one week later.  The guy expects guys to grind, and yet, against a grinder in Ferrer, Verdasco did not even compete.  As we said, it was a tired Ferrer as well.  All credit to Ferrer, now with 3 titles this season.  He really is a tremendous player, and he rarely if ever loses to people who shouldn’t beat him.

But for Verdasco to lose a 6-1 first set in 25 minutes, and to only get 3 games total?  It’s no wonder Verdasco has gone from near a top five player to a guy who is barely in the top 30.  Really a shameful effort.  Very telling as to Verdasco’s will, which is non existent.  Ferrer even had the shorter turn around time, as Verdasco got done early Friday and had an extra 7 or so hours to rest and plot.

So that’s just a pitiful, disgraceful display.  We’ve shaken our heads before at Verdasco, especially when he complains, which is often enough, but we really thought he had a big opportunity that he was ready for yesterday.

We won’t be betting him again either.

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Australia’s Serbian born Marinko Matosevic (above), playing for his first ever tour final berth today in Florida.

Can’t say as we’re surprised and not delighted by the morning’s result, with Roger claiming his 5th career title in Dubai, and his first since 2007 with a 7-5, 6-4 victory in 1:37 over Andy Murray. For Roger, the title is his second of the year, second consecutive title (Rotterdam), and 72nd career tournament victory. Yeah, we were all over the action this morning, as we hinted last night, as it is certainly a most rare opportunity to lay the theoretical shekel on Roger Federer at so close to an even money line (-135). It was also most rare, of late, when Andy Murray had occasion to break the great man, in the 18th game of the match. Federer allowed 3 break points today, and saved two, but that was well more than yesterday when he neither faced nor allowed any against Del Potro. In fact, prior to Murray’s second set break of serve, the great man was not broken since the quarters in Rotterdam, a six match streak without being broken.

We’ve definitely noticed that Federer’s serve is beefed up, not just in the last two weeks either. Annacone has definitely impressed upon his liege the importance of making serve games stick, which was the hallmark of his former liege, Pistol Pete. As for the Federer-Murray matchup, the rivalry has seemed to dip decidedly towards Roger, with him taking 5 out of the last 7, all on hards. In fact, all 15 of their faceoffs have come on hards. What a dream it would be to see the two go at it on grass, and since the only grass event they play in common is Wimbledon, we’d be happy to take it at SW-19. As for Murray, Ivan Lendl’s new liege, the partnership has definitely been bearing fruit, and we’re surprised at how quickly. A testament to both men.

But tennis is so much in the matchup of styles, and while Murray has seemed to have made strides against The Djoker, over the course of 18 months, has seemed to reverted a bit against Nadal and Federer. Especially stuck in our craw were his semi-finals against Nadal at Wimbledon and the USO where he went down meekly in 4 sets. Andy Meekly, um, we mean Murray, is a guy we are anxious to see against Rafa, because we think Lendl joining the fray on the side of the Scot could have an impact in what is otherwise a one way Nadal fest. Both major semis were major disappointments. Murray, up an early set and a break at Wimbledon, where the crowd is his, came apart at the seams, and what’s worse, couldn’t recover in a 5 set match. Then in Flushing, where he has beaten Nadal in the same spot, seemed dead on arrival, making way for the epic Nadal-Djokovic rematch.

But what do you expect of a player who allows his mum to devise his game plan against Nadal? Now that Lendl is weighing in, we’re of the mind that Murray will give Nadal less of the off speed stuff he devours, and more pace, which pushes him back. If you noticed positioning back at their Wimbledon semi, when Murray drifted back of the baseline for good, which was around the 2nd game of the second set, then the match turned.

Because Murray and Federer send so much off speed stuff back at Nadal, he can easily pick his spots versus those players. But notice how Djokovic goes at Nadal with power and it works. Then there are no spots to pick. Both players really need to hit hard at Nadal at all times, and for some reason, the mighty coach Annacone hasn’t incorporated the play into Roger’s permanent Nadal play book. But back to Dubai, where we caught a whiff of content off Dandy Andy 2.0 off of the stunning upset of Djokovic. Perhaps the kid saw some of his press clippings, about the revenge on Djokovic and all that fluffy nonsense. And we can’t recall when Murray has ever beaten two such fine opponents as Federer and Djokovic on back to back days. Then there’s Rog, who went to Rotterdam for the first time in 9 years, then to Dubai. Why would he add a tournament like Rotterdam to his schedule? Because he wanted a win under his belt. Now Federer has two wins under the belt, with the unlikely win today.

Another guy with two wins on the year is David Ferrer, who Justin Gimelstob accurately described earlier in the week as the guy who gets the absolute most out of his talent out of anyone on the tour. Indeed. Ferrer is a gamer. But in this matchup, Verdasco seems to have some life. He leads the head to head 7-6, and is one of the few men to have an advantage over Ferrer on clay, where he is 6-3. Verdasco has not won a tournament in two years and Ferrer looked dead at times last night against a week opponent in Santiago Giraldo. Here are the odds:

2012 Abierto Mexicano Telcel Mens Final — 10 PM EST

David Ferrer: – 260

Fernando Verdasco: + 200


We like Verdasco and this positive money line. Even though he’s coached by know nothing Darren “killer” Cahill, probably a slight downgrade from Andy Murray’s mum. Remember, this is a matchup and tennis is all in the matchups, and Verdasco here has the edge. In Delray, on another dubious hardcourt, there are two matches on tap, and we like the underdogs in both. Here are the odds:

2012 Delray Beach International Tennis Championships — Semi-finals

Marinko Matosevic: + 130

Dudi Sela: – 150

__ __ __ __

Kevin Anderson: + 165

John Isner: – 210


We are going with Matosevic and Anderson here. Say what you want about Dudi Sela, and we love a good little one hander, as you know, but this guy is not a good favorite. Though Matosevic had not won a match before showing up in South Florida this year, he’s gotten on a roll here, taking out past Champion Ernests Gulbis along the way, and he’s a lanky guy whose serve seems to be clicking.

Anderson scored a decent upset of Roddick earlier in the week. These two giants play close matches, lots of breakers and whatnot, and we feel, despite the rankings, that Anderson, at this time, is the sharper returner. Whomever gets the traction going in the return game is going to rule the day. We’ll say that’s Anderson, despite our regular interest in Isner.

In fact, we will be betting for Anderson to go on to win his second career title tomorrow here in Delray Beach.

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