Fernando Verdasco


Jerzy-Janowicz-Wimbledon
Jerzy Janowicz (above) on the attack.

All England Club 2013
Ladies Semi-final July 04

Kirsten Flipkens: + 130
Marion Bartoli: – 160
__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __
Sabine Lisicki: – 150
Agnieszka Radwanska: + 120

_______________

Men’s Semifinal July 05

Juan Martin Del Potro: + 500

NovaK Djokovic: – 800

__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __
Jerzy Janowicz: + 375

Andy Murray: – 500
….
I would certainly hail Jerzy Janowicz, should he hoist the trophy come Sunday noon. That kid is going places. Looks a little Sampras-ish. But we think it will be King Novak who wins the day. At any rate, and these rates are fine, we would take JJ tomorrow. Look for him to finish off Murray where Verdasco we knew, would not. Verdasco is like the white James Blake. All talent and near misses, the both of them. Janowicz has the right game for the lawn, and Murray is gonna have to get down if he wants to get through, which may not be easy, considering the back has seemed balky, that same back that has plagued him since early 2012. Say what, you say. Yes. We were shocked to read Chris Clarey on the eve of Roland Garros telling us Andy Murray was skipping because of a back injury which first affected him 14 months ago. We don’t like when players get their rhythm amended near the time of a major, especially with the RG/SW-19 quick turn around, the way Murray’s was. No way around that Murray was not playing competitive tennis at the highest level last month. We don’t like it. The pusher injuries began 14 months ago with Murray, it seems, and more to come, which puts a real damper on Murray’s long term plans to win the French Open, oh pity Britain. Murray should not fold up the tent on RG yet, especially since he can hit as many shots as he wants there and he just loves hitting shots, just not winners.

We think Murray might get the game took to him Friday by the Polish Lightning Bolt. If not, then Djokovic should school him proper Sunday, because seems to us better inclined and better primed to take the match, which is what is called for on grass after all. Though Djoker’s got his work cur out with him with JMDP, and don’t think we don’t love JMDP on that money line, especially since we saw JMDP unleash bomb after bomb on Novak less than a year ago on these very courts in taking out the King at the Olympic fare. Janowicz, to us, should have had the +5 and JMDP should be much much much lower, because Djokovic could very easily lose here in this spot. But we think Djoker needs this to cleanse the stench from his RG semi chokefest very badly, which will overcome.

As for the ladies, not gonna say much. Respect Lisicki, the big hitter, yeah, Bartoli not so much, but we love both dogs there too. Bartoli, a 2 hander, hates having variety thrown at her, hates having her rhythm and time disrupted. Which is Flipkens description–old school, crafty, grass court tennis. And that’s why we like Aggie too, because of the craft. This is Aggie’s best ever chance to do something, let’s be real. None of the big 3 is here. She needs it, and she has always played very well when she has needed it, we thinks. Would be a sensational coup too if Aggie hoisted the heavy metal, considering how lightly she packs. Just being real, son.

So nice to see the grass reward the bold (and Andy Murray) as it traditionally does, and for so many reasons, like the lack for the lack of prep on the stuff (can’t practice on the grounds prior to the tourny) and the onus on attack, volley, good old ‘do you have the balls to take it out of the air, far from the baseline?’ tennis. Essentially what we are describing is…TENNIS!!! So let’s make Halle a Masters 1000 and let the Olympians play their tennis at SW-19 regardless of the silly host country from here on in and perhaps we can start to undo some of the damage that plan A only Sharapova drones and straight up pushers like 90% of all 2-handers out there and their fearless leader, precious oh precious Rafael, and Florida and Chris Evert’s dad and Brad Gilbert and Plexicushion and clay have done to this game.

It was wild.

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Novak-Djokovic-Australian-Open-2012-ChampionNovak Djokovic (above), the prohibitive favorite to threepeat in Melbourne.

Men’s

Alexandr Dolgopolov

+15000

 

Andy Murray

+250

 

Bernard Tomic

+5000

 

David Ferrer

+2500

 

David Nalbandian

+25000

 

Fernando Verdasco

+20000

 

Gael Monfils

+15000

 

Gilles Simon

+25000

 

Janko Tipsarevic

+15000

 

Jerzy Janowicz

+6000

 

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

+3000

 

Juan Martin Del Potro

+1200

 

Kei Nishikori

+10000

 

Kevin Anderson

+50000

 

Lleyton Hewitt

+50000

 

Marcos Baghdatis

+10000

 

Marin Cilic

+15000

 

Milos Raonic

+5000

 

Nicolas Almagro

+25000

 

Novak Djokovic

-160

 

Richard Gasquet

+10000

 

Roger Federer

+400

 

Ryan Harrison

+25000

 

Sam Querrey

+25000

 

Stanislas Wawrinka

+25000

 

Tomas Berdych

+3000

__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

Ladies’

Agnieszka Radwanska

+1000

 

Ana Ivanovic

+6000

 

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

+10000

 

Andrea Petkovic

+10000

 

Angelique Kerber

+2000

 

Caroline Wozniacki

+3000

 

Daniela Hantuchova

+20000

 

Francesca Schiavone

+25000

 

Jelena Jankovic

+12500

 

Julia Goerges

+15000

 

Kaia Kanepi

+10000

 

Laura Robson

+8000

 

Maria Kirilenko

+15000

 

Maria Sharapova

+700

 

Marion Bartoli

+6000

 

Mona Barthel

+10000

 

Na Li

+2000

 

Nadia Petrova

+15000

 

Petra Kvitova

+1000

 

Sabine Lisicki

+6000

 

Samantha Stosur

+2500

 

Sara Errani

+12500

 

Serena Williams

-120

 

Shuai Peng

+25000

 

Sloane Stephens

+15000

 

Svetlana Kuznetsova

+15000

 

Venus Williams

+5000

 

Victoria Azarenka

+300

 

Yanina Wickmayer

+50000

……….

We predict Judy Murray (background) is going to see her son’s major winless streak extended this year at Roland Garros, next year at Roland Garros, and so on.

Odds to win French Open Title — Roland Garros 2012 (Sunday, June 10th 2012, 9 AM EST)

Alexandr Dolgopolov:  + 15000

Andy Murray:  + 3000

David Ferrer:  + 3500

Ernests Gulbis:  + 15000

Fernando Verdasco:  + 10000

Gael Monfils:  + 10000

Gilles Simon:  + 15000

Janko Tipsarevic:  + 15000

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga:  + 10000

John Isner:  + 6500

Juan Martin Del Potro:  + 2000

Jurgen Melzer:  + 15000

Marcos Baghdatis:  +15000

Marin Cilic:  + 15000

Mikhail Youzhny:  + 15000

Milos Raonic:  + 6500

Novak Djokovic:  + 200

Philipp Kohlschreiber:  + 15000

Rafael Nadal:  – 125

Richard Gasquet:  + 10000

Roger Federer:  + 800

Stanislas Wawrinka:  + 15000

Tomas Berdych:  + 3500

Viktor Troiki:  + 15000

Field (Any Other Player):  + 500

……….

Rafa’s no surprise.  Djokovic seems about right.  The rest of the odds take some um, odd turns.  Federer all of a sudden, the champ 3 years prior, now has odds worse than the field.  Alright.  In our books that makes Roger a good bet, but that’s just us.  He’s only been to the final 6 out of the last 7 years, but apparently Caesar’s Palace has detected some obvious decline to the great man that we have not.

Andy Murray with better odds than David Ferrer?  That’s an obvious error.  They are both in the same quarter, which would make for a quite nice QF which Ferrer would win.  Murray’s never gotten one on Ferrer on clay, has never won a tournament on clay for that matter, and has had an awful year on clay to Ferrer’s very solid year, once again.  Ferrer is a guy who we could see making a wager on at that line.

Ferrer is going to be a very solid pick for at least the semi-finals, though he may have to go through Giant John Isner to get there.  Ferrer plays the big man very well, but Isner has become America’s best by far on the dirt over the last few years, and we see him as dangerous in this spot.  In fact, he may pose the greatest matchup problem for Rafa, who could not have been that thrilled to see Ferrer and Isner in his half, and Milos Raonic in his quarter.

As a betting man, we are baffled that Raonic and Isner are given such little weight above.  The French has not been won by a dark horse since Gaston Gaudio in that “thrilling” extended 5 setter versus Coria in 2005.  Isner and Raonic have been giving people fits, especially with their second serves, which are darting up off the court, out of even very long players’ strike zones.  Isner nearly pulled off the Rafa upset last year, and is the only guy to take him to 5 sets here.  We think, at +6500, they are both excellent guys to take flyers on.

As an aside, we think Aussie Bernard Tomic is one interesting guy left unlined, and that Marcos Baghdatis got one undeservingly.

So we are a bit late with this, with the tournament beginning already and Monfils already pulling out (clowns do as they do), with Roddick already out (only Roddick can lose to a Mahut, an S & V guy on clay, but we expected him to lose what with him not showing up at all for the entire clay season), and with American Irina Falconi, who liked today, pulling the upset this morning.  She has the eye of the tiger.

We’d have let you know in time to wager, but we fell out extremely early, and when we woke up, the play was off the board.  Below is some of the odds for the ladies (right):

We won’t say much, and we don’t need to.  Serena at 5-2…ho hum.  The Queen is back (and 17-0 on clay this year).  She seems motivated and focused as well.  At +800, we love our lefty, Kvitova as well, and wouldn’t sneeze at VA at +400.  We’d perhaps take a long shot gamble on rising German Mona Barthel, and view Kerber and Bartoli as dangerous.

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Federer (above), arms raised in triumph.  Because of his win and Nadal’s loss early this week, he will have a better chance to raise the arms 3 weeks from today at Roland Garros.

With his 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 victory today over world #7 Tomas Berdych, Roger Federer has claimed the Madrid title for the 3rd time in his career, becoming the first man to ever win the Mutua Madrilena title on its controversial blue clay.  For Federer, it was also his 20th Masters shield, his 74th career title, and his 3rd shield of the year, in what has been a very strong campaign so far.  But in what may be the best development of the day, Federer has passed Nadal in the rankings, and will likely hold the 2nd spot through Roland Garros, which means that Federer should have an easier draw than Nadal, and may possibly avoid being in Rafa’s bracket.  If that’s the case, then Djokovic and Nadal, the tour’s two chief cry baby complainers, would possibly have each other in the semi-final at Roland Garros, where they could literally kill each other, if we’re lucky.  We’ll get back to them later.

As for Roger, what a week.  In the opener, he played in one of the year’s most entertaining matches, so narrowly defeating the comer, Milos Raonic.  We billed that match for you and it was probably even better than advertised.  We always have loved betting tennis because the difference between players, even disparate players, is often way slimmer than the odds would purport.  Like today.  There really wasn’t much separating Berdych and Federer, and the big man had a lot of chances late, jumping out to 0-30 on the 1st 3 games on Roger’s serve in the third set.  Berdych also broke back at 5-4 when Roger served for the match, then hit 3 aces to dig out of 0-40 in the next game, before Federer broke and served it out for good.  These matches this week, a grand Serena, stirring upsets of Djokovic and Nadal, and Federer throughout, saw a high level of tennis on display.

Even better perhaps than today’s match, in which both players had positive winner to UFE ratios, was the Federer-Raonic affair.  Federer was down 4-6, 5-5 (30-40), and on second serve, Federer came in, a tough proposition with Raonic passing him all the live long day, and had to come up with an extremely difficult half volley, which for him landed on the back of the line, sliding just a bit to force Raonic into a forehand error.  Federer then worked the hold, and at 4-6, 6-5, in the 21st game of the match, finally won a few points off Raonic’s first serve.  In the 1st 20 games of the match, Federer did not win one point off of Raonic’s first serve.  Incredible, really.

We have to say how impressive Raonic is, yet again.  This kid has the best flat forehand in the game today.  Federer, thinking he had a good play in approaching to the Raonic backhand, got torched.  He was only 15 of 29 at net, and yet, as one of TTC’s best voices, Robby Koenig said, he got the point he absolutely had to have.  Because if Raonic gets that break, he serves out the match and wins 6-4, 7-5, and Federer is still 3rd tomorrow.  He also has the best serve in the game right now, and has only really scratched the surface.

The Fed camp must’ve readjusted their gameplan going into today’s match with another big man with big strokes.  Federer only came in 5 times today, which was the better play, to make Berdych have to go side to side a lot.  Not that Berdych was complaining about his footing and movement on the blue, like some.  Just because he isn’t the most mobile guy.  For that matter, the only time Raonic was really exposed by Federer was on drop shots.  His laterals were tremendous.  So the work for he and Galo Blanco, and we are sure they are already back at it, is digging forward to play droppers and short slice.  One last bit on the Berdych match as well.  Berdych was slow to a drop shot in his last service game, and his forehand clipped the tape and popped long.  That little play does not adequately separate a -330 favorite from a +250 dog.

But Roger loves Madrid, loves the altitude, which adds a little zip to the ball, and also like those blue courts.  And if he didn’t, he still worked out, far far too classy to complain about a tournament so good for the game.  Djokovic and Nadal should take a lesson.  First Djokovic.  He trashed the blue clay, and also trashed the ATP, and said that the former president, who ok’d the blue, was only thinking of himself.  Now maybe it’s me, but I am having a hard time figuring out how the former ATP president personally benefited from these blue courts, unless he took a bribe from the manufacturer.

Look, we all know the ATP is shit.  We may question the dubious stats that Mutua Madrilena released about the blue clay being 27% easier for players to see the ball on, and 21% easier for fans to pick up the ball than on red clay.  While dubious to us, we must also be honest and say we did think it made for a striking court and visually pleasing tennis.  Probably because the courts played fast and we didn’t have to snore through war of attrition tennis for once.

Spray painted blue clay, recently spray painted at that, is obviously going to be quick and slick.  Instead of whining and crying, Djokovic and Nadal, who have dominated the game playing war of attrition tennis, should take the changes as a compliment.  Even in Spain, they are tired of the same players and styles dominating.  Every decade or so they will speed or slow the courts.  They slowed the courts because big serves were prevailing “too easily” and now we see they are speeding the courts because guys aren’t hitting winners.

Djokovic’s rants were classless.  And in his 2nd match against Wawrinka, it was Wawrinka who was frustrated with the court, smashing his racquet to bits on a changeover.  But Wawrinka is also too classy to complain.  As for Nadal, who says he’s never playing on the blue again, well, he should be more real.  Nadal wouldn’t miss a match, let alone a tournament on clay if he was dying.  He played at meaningless Barcelona in a 500, when Djokovic and Federer haven’t played any 500’s on clay this year or last.  When Nadal goes into his yearly, um, slide, it’s always because of cumulative effect, the toll of his matches.  So why play last week?

Because he’s a greedy, whiny moron.  No one really honestly says what’s going on with Nadal.  Nobody calls him out for bad sportsmanship when he stalls, or shadow boxes, or does his dumb laps or takes his little penguin steps, and fails to play to the speed of the server.  We’d love to see him skip a tournament in his home nation on clay, but it isn’t going to happen.  So why cry?  He lost one match on clay in a year, and the time he loses, against a friend of his who finally gets to beat him after 14 previous losses or whatever it was, he has to complain.  What a glaring lack of sportsmanship.  The guy was up 2 breaks, 5-2 in the 3rd, and 15-0 when he put an easy smash into the net bottom.  From there he got swept out like trash.  That’s the issue, not the clay.  Like Billie Jean King said of the surface, and of the complaining, champions adjust.

The first woman to win on the blue was Serena, who pretty much invalidated Azarenka’s banner year in about 55 minutes today, with a 6-1, 6-3 win over the now shaky new queen.  In all likelihood, Azarenka was probably really done for in about 25 minutes after the 6-1 first set drubbing.  We bet Azarenka, theoretically, and that was a bad bit of business, as we knew well it might have been.  We said as much.  In retrospect, with Serena laying waste to the competition on similar green clay in Charleston @ the FCC, we perhaps should’ve known better.  But we still think for Serena, success on clay today doesn’t necessarily translate into success on clay tomorrow.  But moving up from #9 with a stout win means she will play an easier draw at RG.

Here’s a nice stat for Serena Williams that we saw today and which earns her even more kudos.  She has now beaten 13 world #1’s in her career, the 3rd most of all time.  If you can name them all, we’ll owe you a bit of our own clay, a smoke-able number.

As for Berdych, you are still a winner, friend.  You get to go home with Ester Satorova.

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Kvitova and Azarenka shake hands at Wimbledon (above).

Petra Kvitova, who we felt was the best woman in the world by far going into 2012, ran her indoor unbeaten streak to 27 yesterday.  Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon and Fed Cup champion, as well as the YEC champ for 2011, defeated Angelique Kerber in a tight but quick two sets.  That’s how the girl plays it.  Fast and aggressive.  We must say again how much we like her style, leading with a big lefty serve and big big forehand and backhand wings.  Too big for Kerber, who plays big herself, and who has climbed steadily in the rankings as one of the hottest players on tour in the last 12 months.

Kerber is excellent at holding serve, a lost art in the women’s game.  This week she took out Caroline Wozniacki in straights, her second victory over the Dutch Miss in straights in essentially 5 days, after also meeting at E-Bok in Copenhagen last weekend.  While Wozniacki will continue in the wrong direction, we think Kvitova is ready to present herself to Victoria Azarenka for the slugfest that should have gone down in the final at Melbourne.  Kvitova had a very uneven Australian and American soft hardcourt season, losing unexpectedly to Maria Sharapova in the semis Down Under.  Tomorrow, Kvitova has a chance to strike back at Maria Sharapova, who frankly used all of her 9 lives today in battling back to win from match point down against former French champ Sam Stosur.  Here are the odds for tomorrow’s semifinals:

Porsche Open @ Stuttgart, Germany — Semifinal

Petra Kvitova:  – 160

Maria Sharapova:  – 120

__ __ __ __

Victoria Azarenka:  – 260

Agniezska Radwanska:  + 200

……

Kvitova, who defeated Azarenka on red clay last year to take the title in Madrid, has won 4 straight in the head to head, and holds a convincing 4-2 lead all time.  She has not lost to Vica since 2008.  All throughout Azarenka’s magical run, she has not had to face Kvitova, who along with Serena Williams represent the only matchup problems for her on the tour.  Kvitova is also a tremendous specialty surface player.  She has mastered indoor clay and hardcourts, has won on grass, and has always been the better clay courter.

Azarenka would seem to move a little better than Kvitova, but remember that Kvitova is dictating, giving her more opportunities to relax.  The extra power she garners, we think, will go further for her this clay court season than Azarenka with her slight edge in movement.  Kvitova is a perfect fit on clay as she moves naturally in the dirt, which is a huge edge (ask Sharapova).  It’s also a nice advantage to be able to hit through the court and move up gracefully for short balls.

Sharapova once claimed she was like a “cow on ice” at Roland Garros.  She’s a worker, and even after the shoulder surgery has made the semis at Roland Garros.  But you know how we feel about Sharapova not thinking the game and being so fundamentally unsound.  It’s not gonna fly here.  We also like that Kvitova had a relatively easy match today compared to Maria.

While Stuttgart is red clay, the indoor setting provides no wind at all, meaning the ball has less resistance through the court.  Serves and serve tosses are also unaffected, which obviously helps big servers.  Kvitova is made for this arena, and should carry the success here through the rest of the season and into the grass season.  We expect she will.  She is our favorite at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, which is saying a lot, considering how well Azarenka has done.  But we always felt that Azarenka’s star was further in the offing, and that Kvitova’s was already here.  Then it left.  Now she’ll get it back.

Azarenka struggled today with Mona Barthel, Germany’s latest breakout player.  Barthel got off strong in 2012 taking the title in Hobart with ease, then qualifying for the Australian and winning two rounds before falling to Azarenka.  She has now lost to Azarenka 3 times this year, and until yesterday hadn’t managed a competitive set.  Barthel is improving quickly though, and the tight match today is no knock on Azarenka.  In fact, we have to hand it to her for fighting off Barthel, who at one point had saved 12 of 16 break points this morning.  We would not be surprised if Radwanska upset Azarenka tomorrow, though we aren’t in love with her in this spot.  And we really hope to see Kvitova-Azarenka for the first time in 2012, as it is the matchup most anticipated by keen watchers.

As for the men:

Open Sabadell ATP 500 @ Madrid, Spain — Semifinals

Rafael Nadal:  – 2500

Fernando Verdasco:  + 1200

__ __ __ __

David Ferrer:  – 250

Milos Raonic:  + 190

……

We’d be tempted to pick against Nadal at those prices, except we hate Verdasco, who is 0-12 lifetime in the matchup.  He hasn’t even really gotten too close.  In one of the most similar settings to this one we could recall, the final in 2010 at Monte Carlo, Nadal rolled, 6-0, 6-1.  And it was more lopsided than that.  If Verdasco and his team, led by Darren Cahill, were going to put a winning gameplan together for Rafa, it would have happened already.  And then there was Tipsarevic who said after today’s 6-2, 6-2 loss to Nadal that the Spaniard has never looked better on clay.

Let Nadal win all the 500’s he can and we won’t care.  The real test will be at RG.  We’ll be betting Djokovic, especially if Nadal exhausts himself by going greedy, which he usually does on the dirt.  The other semi has us all done up.  We’re hoping that Raonic can get it done.  Nadal-Raonic/Kvitova-Azarenka would be a dream Sunday indeed.  If we can’t have both we’d settle for one.

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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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