Giles Simon

Roger-Federer-and-Andy-Mu-001Roger Federer (above) holds the Australian Open trophy for the 4th time, while a teary eyed Murray composes himself in the background.

Australian Open Men’s Semi-Final — January 25th, 2013

Andy Murray:  – 145

Roger Federer:  + 115

__ __ __ __ __ __

Australian Open Women’s Final — January 26th, 2013

Victoria Azarenka:  – 145

Na Li:  + 115


Tomorrow morning at around 5 AM, Roger Federer and Andy Murray will do battle for the twentieth time, with the winner either having the opportunity to be the first man to go from zero to two majors consecutively, or looking to boost his record major count to a total of 18.  The match will be the 2nd ever between them in Australia, and the third on Plexicushion, with Federer memorably winning the last, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (13-11), and leaving the once petulant Briton in a wake of tears (Murray won their first Plexicushion tilt in 3 sets on Indian Wells purple goo in 2009).  It will be the 18th matchup between the men played on hard courts, where Murray holds a 9-8 lead at the moment.

We must say we are a bit surprised at these odds, which in defiance of the established norm, do not seem to be giving too much credit to Federer or Azarenka, who we feel should be clear favorites here.  We always bring it up, when Roger is a dog, that it’s really rare to lay a bet on Roger when he has a plus by his name.  As far as we can tell, international action is dictating these lines, as what smart bettor is really going to lay 145 units to win 100 on Andy Murray?  And who is likely to bet against Azarenka on Plexicushion, on which she did not lose last year or this year, for that matter, defaulting to Serena in Hobart because of the toe injury?

Na Li no doubt has received a good deal of respect for her drubbing of Sharapova last night.  That may have been the best match she’s ever played, truth be told.  But tennis is in the matchups.  We think Murray and Li will both have a bit of a different experience as the competition jumps up a few levels, as it has.  Li no doubt came to play, and most impressively, she gave Sharapova nothing to work with last night, because we’re sure if given an opening, the battler she is would have made it more of a contest.  But to look at Sharapova’s body of work here and get too crazy head over heels for it, when she played nobody but a sub prime Venus Williams, would be a mistake.  We suspect that when Venus gets to her see again, as she continues her comeback from Sjogren’s, it will play out differently.

As it would also be a mistake, to look at Murray’s body of work like that, after he waltzed through a collapsed draw.  Murray was greatly aided en route to the semis by the upsets of Cilic and Del Potro, something Federer has not benefited from, as Roger has so far beaten 5 top 50 opponents, and is attempting to be the first man to win a major when beating 7 top 50 opponents since he did it in 2010.  Just like Federer’s timing was affected by not playing Mardy Fish at the USO in the Round of 16, and not getting in his regular match play, Murray should be affected by not having played anyone good.  We thought Gilles Simon might give him a tussle the other night but when we put it on, we concluded after one shot–a forehand slice into the net–that alas he would not.  May have helped Murray to miss Monfils as well, who probably wouldn’t have beaten him but who always exacts a toll.  On his opponents and himself.

As much as tennis is matchups, it is also timing.  Federer has never lost to Murray at a major because, in large part, he makes Murray work so hard to hold serve, and on his own serve, he has staples to win him points that Murray does not.  Federer’s timing is peak right now, easily seen by how easily he is hitting the one handed backhand, how many points he’s winning on return of serve, and how sharp his forehand has been.  If your timing is bad, the one hander won’t work.  You also won’t be dialed in on returns.  And as many announcers have pointed out throughout the fortnight, Federer is giving himself plenty of margin on the forehand, content to go for lethal combinations, as he is obviously very comfortable on the court.  The other day Roger out aced Raonic, while only allowing the boy something like 6 of 60 baseline points.  Murray is going to have to win about 60% of the baseline points to win.  We don’t like his chances.

We also feel like Federer is heavily motivated.  He was obviously unhappy with the conclusion of his year.  He was very unhappy about losing 3 of the last 4 matches he has played to Del Potro, even suggesting at the YEC that his team was being out coached by DP’s team.  Because of the schedule, he had much less rest than Djokovic, having to play 3 matches in the last 5 days there, and losing out on his quest to defend the YEC, a trophy he covets.  We know that Roger worked very hard in the off season.  Unlike Murray, who made his workouts public to a group of British tennis reporters, clowning around on Miami Beach, Federer kept his routines highly guarded.  Roger has heard a lot about Murray of late.  He is relishing his underdog role, savoring it.  We expect him to be very tough in this spot.  Also, and of no small consequence, Roger has played most of his matches in Melbourne this year at night.  He has become very comfortable with the night conditions, whereas Murray has played in the day light most of the way.  Federer is well aware that he lost both of his last 2 semi-finals here, and has adjusted accordingly, we think.  We expect classic Roger here.  That means a strong start.  We also expect the crowd to be in Roger’s favor, which was not the case at the Olympics, and which gave Murray a considerable boost.  Slightly faster Plexicushion also aids Federer, who had no real problem with Murray here in 2010 on the slower track.

In the h2h matchup between Li and Azarenka, Vica leads 5-4 and has won 4 straight.  Azarenka defeated Li at the YEC in Istanbul to end 2012, and won their last matchup on Plex, which was last year in Sydney.  But Li is the last player to beat Azarenka in Melbourne, eliminating her in 3 sets in 2011, which puts the match in an interesting light.  We’re sure that Azarenka hasn’t forgotten.  She’d be a fool to let a pass a golden opportunity to grab a major without having to go through Serena.  And maybe Plexicushion is to thank for that, as Serena would surely have won if the back and ankle were unhindered.

We think a Roger-Azarenka ticket is the way to go.  The only way.  Then again, we’re frequently wrong.

Crack (

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


Alexandr Dolgopolov



Andy Murray



Bernard Tomic



David Ferrer



David Nalbandian



Fernando Verdasco



Gael Monfils



Gilles Simon



Janko Tipsarevic



Jerzy Janowicz



Jo-Wilfried Tsonga



Juan Martin Del Potro



Kei Nishikori



Kevin Anderson



Lleyton Hewitt



Marcos Baghdatis



Marin Cilic



Milos Raonic



Nicolas Almagro



Novak Djokovic



Richard Gasquet



Roger Federer



Ryan Harrison



Sam Querrey



Stanislas Wawrinka



Tomas Berdych


__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __


Agnieszka Radwanska



Ana Ivanovic



Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova



Andrea Petkovic



Angelique Kerber



Caroline Wozniacki



Daniela Hantuchova



Francesca Schiavone



Jelena Jankovic



Julia Goerges



Kaia Kanepi



Laura Robson



Maria Kirilenko



Maria Sharapova



Marion Bartoli



Mona Barthel



Na Li



Nadia Petrova



Petra Kvitova



Sabine Lisicki



Samantha Stosur



Sara Errani



Serena Williams



Shuai Peng



Sloane Stephens



Svetlana Kuznetsova



Venus Williams



Victoria Azarenka



Yanina Wickmayer



We were very lucky to sit front row at the US Open yesterday for American hopeful Sloane Stephens (serving above) and Reka-Luca Jani of Hungary.  From everything we saw prior, Sloane Stephens looked to us to be if not the best, then the 2nd best American tennis prospect in the land, and her 6-2 lead after one set seemed to bear that out.  And then the middle set and a half came.  Though the 18 year old Stephens gutted out the victory by winning a break of serve while Jani was serving for the match, and although she trailed 3-2 in the deciding breaker and then reeled off the last 5 points, we’d rather be hard on her than easy.  Let’s be real.  Is Stephens to be lauded for beating a 5’4 girl 2 years older than her who also never won a match at a major (or even competed in one before yesterday) and who is ranked about 225th in the world?

Stephens looked great early on.  She was so quick around the court, stalking the baseline, and it seemed like Jani could not hit an out and out winner.  Stephens was getting to everything.  The first set came and went and Jani looked headed for home.  In the 2nd set, Stephens looked tight, went down a break, and got no traction whatsoever on Jani’s service games.  She lost the set 6-3, and frankly, she looked like she was a junior again.  A lot of credit goes to Jani for the turn around.  Stephens has a laser beam forehand, not a lot of spin, that she gets on top of and that’s clearly her kill shot.  Jani has tactics, and variety, and against a one dimensional player, it was almost enough.

On American hards, Stephens has no business losing to a player like this, despite her limitations, to this point.  Did irk us that she hit only 3 volleys and blew an easy overhead?  Totally.  And by the way, if you are reading the match stats that counted her as 11 for 20 on her approaches, a poor percentage indeed, you might want to take more seriously the percentage than the credited approaches because she was moored to the baseline and we have good reason to question that stat.  Stephens is uncomfortable anywhere inside the tennis court.  Jani’s best play all night was the drop shot, which was a horrible sitting duck most of the time, but since Stephens can only go side to side and hates taking her hand off the racquet, just about every dropper hit to her backhand worked out for Jani, even when the droppers made the service line.

It’s not like Jani is Roger Federer.  She employed a little topspin, a lot of short balls, some approaches and some slice.  Stephens bashed flat forehands and hit looping backhands.  We can’t recall her hitting one slice backhand or taking her hand off the racquet, even for a lunge, once.  And she did not go for any winners on the backhand side.  It’s no way to win a match and at about the 1:40 mark, it looked like it had lost her the match, down a break at 4-5 in the 3rd.  Stephens did have a pretty live first serve, and she is well conditioned, and when doubt crept in for Jani in that 10th game, Stephens picked it up.  She had to or she was going home.  And she had the crowd, though there was a small but hardened Hungarian contingent annoyingly yelling out calls and shushing the rest of us, who we were happy to see, get shushed in the end.

I was preparing some comments to heckle Stephens with, or rather, constructive criticism, to nail her with if she lost.  I was gonna yell, “No variety Stephens!”  That would have been putting it kindly.  She’s only 18 and she has time to get comfortable with her secondary shots and develop more tennis sense and work on her backhand.  But still, I was not that impressed.

We’ve been away.  Now we’re back.  Odds for today’s tennis out at Flushing:

12:30 PM EST

__ __ __

Juan Martin Del Potro:  – 10000

Filippo Volandri:  + 2500


Rui Machado:  + 600

Robin Haase:  – 1200


Denis Istomin:  – 175

Ryan Sweeting:  + 125


Shuai Peng:  – 400

Tsvetana Pironkova:  + 250

__ __ __

1:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Alex Bogomolov:  – 1200

Steve Johnson:  + 600


Somdev Devvarman:  + 2500

Andy Murray:  – 10000


Marion Bartoli:  – 225

Christina McHale:  + 165

__ __ __

2:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Ricardo Mello:  + 1000

Gilles Simon:  – 2500

__ __ __

2:30 PM EST

__ __ __

Robby Ginepri:  – 180

Joao Souza:  + 130


Nadia Petrova:  – 300

Polona Hercog:  + 200


Coco Vandeweghe:  + 700

Sam Stosur:  – 1500

__ __ __

3:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Dominika Cibulkova:  – 400

Irina Falconi:  + 250


Venus Williams:  + 110

Sabine Lisicki:  – 150

__ __ __

4:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Jack Sock:  + 185

Marc Gicquel:  – 275


Yanina Wickmayer:  – 375

Alla Kudryatseva:  + 235

__ __ __

4:30 PM EST

__ __ __

Angelique Kerber:  + 550

Agnieszka Radwanska:  – 1000


Flavia Pennetta:  – 400

Romina Oprandi:  + 250

__ __ __

5:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Marcos Baghdatis:  + 200

John Isner:  – 300

__ __ __

7:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Andy Roddick:  – 1500

Michael Russell:  + 700

__ __ __

9:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Anastasiya Yakimova:  + 1200

Maria Sharapova:  – 3000


A couple of things to mention here.  How often does Venus get a plus next to her name?  Nightmare matchup for Lisicki.  We’d like to see ugly 2-handers, Peng and Bartoli, out of here.  Especially Bartoli, facing young Jersey girl Christina McHale.  Angelique Kerber defeated our little darling, Lauren Davis.  We could see her being a nice bet against Radwanska who seems to be an awfully big favorite.  Who’s betting 1000 to win 100 on a Radwanska girl?  We’d like to think Coco and Jack have a shot today.  Especially Sock, against the very ancient Gicquel.  We are liking Hercoq against the burly Petrova, especially after she steamrolled Mattek-Sands, 1 and 3.  We like Falconi over Cibulkova, thinking she’s played well and that it’s a great matchup for her.

Romina Oprandi in action after predictably taking out Oudin (does she have to get bageled in every loss?).  Isner-Baghdatis might be the best match of the day.  We like Steve Johnson, USC’s NCAA champ, against Bogomolov, who we have never seen as – 1200 against anyone, and maybe never even seen as a favorite. 

Big day for USA potentially.  And Madison Keys could have gotten us off very well by finishing off Lucie Safarova.  Not to be, once again showing it takes more than defense to win at this level.

Crack (

We don’t have a lot to say about tomorrow’s action, especially on the women’s side, where we are having a lot of trouble making sense of it.  As for the men, sure we wanted Nadal/Verdasco in this matchup, but we also wanted Nadal/Raonic down under, when it was Ferrer who punched Raonic’s and Rafa’s ticket. 

Nadal:  – 4000

Ljubicic:  + 2000

Sure Nadal deserves to be a large favorite, but if you are like us, looking for positives for the dog, keep in mind that Ljubicic (above) came from behind to beat Nadal on a very slow hardcourt last spring, and that these Babolat balls are still popping like ping pong balls.  This match could have some Isner/Nadal in it, and we respect the work the big Croat has done on his conditioning and overall game.  We’ll say it.  We left him for dead when he changed his racquets.  But he has worked hard, and is now almost sage, and we think he respects very much his opportunity.

Andy Murray is set to give his right ankle a go, and is favored over hard hitting Serb Viktor Troiki.  Here are the odds:

Murray:  – 240

Troicki:  + 180

Troicki is a big hitter, but one that Djokovic is totally dialed in to.  They practice together a lot, and the Djoker has dropped a few bagels on his countryman and some very one sided scorelines during his streak.  We’d like to see Murray play uninhibited tennis and move on tomorrow.

Simon:  + 220

Soderling:  – 300

It will kill us to see the Swede lose this one.  We are counting on the Rafa/Robin quarter, for obvious reasons.  But Simon can not be underestimated.  He’s also the type who can stomach a long match quite easily.  Soderling is a big favorite here.  Gun to our head, and at these rates we’d pick Simon.  Let’s hope Soderling’s serving bombs from the word go.

Falla:  + 190

Chela:  – 250

Chela seems to have captured the magic this fortknight.  We like his length.  They are both clay courters, but Chela is way more dangerous, and has been serving darts.  We’d take him.

And for the ladies:

Li:  + 135

Kvitova:  – 165


Makarova:  + 550

Azarenka:  – 1000


Sharapova:  – 300

Radwanska:  + 220


Petkovic: – 300

Kirilinko:  + 220

Not that we know much, but in 3 of four, we like the dogs.  We just don’t see these favorites as being that well established.  Sharapova has played great, and on paper, she kills Radwanska.  But Radwanska is going to try to grind it out, and Mash doesn’t slide, and we just don’t know that this doesn’t have upset written all over it.  Obviously, the best favorite on the women’s side tomorrow, even if it’s an awful bet, is Azarenka.

Some of the best action tomorrow, may be the conclusion of Ferrer-Monfils, with the winner slated for Roger.

Crack (,

Fed on the forehand volley (above).

When my young son often queries me about the tennis rankings system, usually his fascination rests with the fact that the best player is often not the number one player.  Like at present, in both the men’s and women’s game.  Djokovic is clearly the best player, and Nadal is number one, and with the ladies, how Caroline Wozniacki is the women’s #1.  I’ve asked the same questions myself since I was a boy.  But in recent times, the amount of times that a false number one has occupied the top spot for many weeks as helped validate that the women’s game is a joke.  Safina, who at least made a few major finals to go along with her major meltdown, Jankovic, who held the top spot for an embarrassing 25 weeks, perhaps the worst fundamental tennis player in years, and now Wozniacki, who got spanked today by Hantuchova 6-1, 6-3 in about 70 minutes.  She’ll also retain the ranking and go into the grass court season as #1.  And what has she done to deserve that?

Okay, she has 4 clay court titles this year, and 6 overall.  We laughed a little when she said after the loss, “clay is not my favorite surface.”  But really, here’s why we dislike Mary Joe Fernandez so much, and can’t stand that she captains our Fed Cup.  She talks about Wozniacki, talks about her ranking, see’s her ticket punched in round 3, and says sutff like, ‘the computer’s going to give her credit for going out there and playing every week.”  It’s a dumb computer.  And for Fernandez to back it up when she has a job in tennis, smacks to us of more riding with the establishment.  Patrick McEnroe also probably loves the computer.

When Jankovic was #1, in that year, she had about a 55-28 record, which means she would about make the round of 16, with a bye, of most of her tournaments, and then lose.  Federer lost 4,6, and 7 matches from 2005 to 2007.  It’s obvious why, too.  Jankovic is a hack.  She can’t play and has no guts, besides.  Worst serves, volleys, forehands, transitions, and touch in the game.  With Wozniacki, it’s not quite as bad, because she has some better fundamentals, but she has even less guts.  These girls are petrified to come in and hit a volley, and you know what?  Maybe Hantuchova is also, but she goes for it and can rip huge forehands.  What can Wozniacki do? 

The 2 played on the American putrid super slow Spring hardcore season, and Hantuchova was off.  Wozniacki blew her out in the first set, and then Hantuchova loosened up, and the 2nd set went to a tie-breaker, and Wozniacki won because she was running really well and more on her game.  When it didn’t matter.  As the computer rewarded her for playing every week, Wozniacki played three meaningless green clay events and won them.  Green clay is very different than red clay.  There are no majors on green clay.  Here she is, exhausted today, having wasted her chance at a major by playing meaningless stops.

Do you see the men playing on green clay on the men’s tour?  They do not waste their time.  I’d like to know the last green clay event played on the regular men’s tour.  But the men are playing some interesting tennis right now, at one of the best week ones in recent memory.  You see Federer?  Who has allowed 2 break points in 3 best of 5 set matches, with 2 of the opponents being very good players.  How about this stat?  In the last two rounds, Federer has made all nine of nine serve and volley points.  In the Texeira match, that was 7 out of a total 84 points.  That’s a substantial percentage of the points on clay in the modern game.

Roger must love these balls.  And he’s all set to meet his buddy Stan.  Roger has played about of a 3rd of the time in rounds 2 and 3 as Wawrinka needed today to take out Tsonga.  Roger’s last two clinics leave him fit and fresh to serve out wide to Stan a few times and then knock the volley off.  Rafa, who plays tomorrow, can’t be too in love with the balls for a change.  Sixteen break points for Pablo Andujar and nearly being pinned alive by Isner’s serve.  Some 7 plus hours of court time in 2 matches.  That doesn’t mean Antonio Veic looks great, the journeyman Croat, who takes on Nadal.  But he is hotter than ever, the world’s #227, and did just take out Davydenko.  But we’re gonna guess he’s the type of underdog who makes a lot of sense on the money line.  We’ll give it to you in a bit.    And we’re not trying to disrespect Nadal.  We’ve seen guys give him a tussle early and thought the demise was imminent, and he’s gone on to win some of those majors.  But it would be crazy if Roger could blast these quick balls all over the place in a semi-final matchup with Rafa, keep the points short, and win this thing while taking out Nadal on the way.  It is pretty much the only knock the putrid baseliners cling to.

We won’t say he’s not gonna do it.  And that it won’t be great for the game.  And then what will the Roger haters say?  That he didn’t beat Djokovic, if say, Andy Murray breaks through on clay and beats the Djoker, who is due to lose, even if he survives Del Potro, who I must say, has a wicked serve for clay.  Djokovic has gotten used to putting every ball in play and fighting for every point.  He’s just standing around hoping a lot of the time here, and either way, that’s the kind of thing you wanna see, even if it gonna air around 7 or 8 AM tomorrow.

Here are those odds we promised:

Nadal:  – 10000

Veic:  + 2500

That’s the same line they gave Isner.  By the way, we also think Murray is extremely over-favored:

Murray:  – 5000

Berrer:  + 1500

And we’ll be pulling for Mardy Fish in a tough matchup versus Frenchman Simon, and Soderling, who we also wouldn’t mind seeing in a matchup with our good friend Rafa.  Like I said, we’ve seen him do it before and win big, but we think Rafa is playing worse right now than the year the great man won his first title at Roland Garros.

Crack (,

Andreas Haider-Mauer at the US Open (above).

Rafael Nadal:  – 7000

Pablo Andujar:  + 1900


Antonio Veic:  + 350

Nikolay Davydenko:  – 600


Sam Querrey:  + 110

Ivan Ljubicic:  – 150


Xavier Malisse:  + 450

Fernando Verdasco:  – 700


Mardy Fish:  – 190

Robin Haase:  + 150


Jeremy Chardy:  + 200

Gilles Simon:  – 300


Marcos Baghdatis:  – 145

Leonardo Mayer:  + 105


Albert Ramos:  + 800

Robin Soderling:  – 2000


Andy Murray:  – 3000

Simone Bolelli:  + 1200


Arnaud Clement:  + 130

Michael Berrer:  – 180


Alexander Dolgopolovic:  – 650

Andreas Heider-Mauer:  + 375


Tobias Kamke:  + 400

Victor Troicki:  – 700


Lukasz Kubot:  – 130

Carlos Berlocq:  – 110


Alejandro Falla:  + 350

Florian Mayer:  – 600


Kevin Anderson:  + 175

Juan Ignacio Chela:  – 250


Lukas Rosol:  + 350

Jurgen Melzer:  – 600


We’re not going to go through the women, but if you are interested you should check out the odds becaause there are some seeming ridiculously high favorites according to the money lines.  We especially, are in long with Jie Zheng at plus 700 to Petra Kvitova at minus 1500.  As for the men, the good bet is the big underdog as well, as you’d have to love Andugar, who can bring you back $91 on a $5 wager if there’s an upset.  Mardy Fish, in action, with a good chance to make at least the 3rd round.  Nice story.  Chardy/Simon, in the all French battle.  Arnaud Clement, still doing it, and probably with those dumb goggles and head band.  Long shot parlays would rack up the dollars if the stars aligned and a few long shots hit on the same ticket.  By the way, Dolgopolov Jr. is way too heavily favored.  Haider-Mauer might only be world #88, but he took Robin Soderling to 5 sets at the US Open and he’s had a very good year, and at 23, could be poised to climb.  He’s also a natural clay courter and Dolgopolov is not, and hasn’t had the type of good season we were looking for after his magical Australian season.  And good for Sam Querrey, who finally won an important match.  We hope he does it again tomorrow, again as underdog.  BTW, we are pulling hard for Kevin Anderson, shot maker, tomoorrow, and we are very impressed with Sergiy Stakhovsky, the big, lean one hander who won his first round match by making passes and tough volleys.  We think he’ll be fun to watch in the doubles tomorrow.

Look for it all on the mix channels.

Crack (

Four time Australian champ Roger Federer and 2008 Australian champ Novak Djokovic (above).

With Rafael Nadal’s surprise loss to David Ferrer last night (more on that to come), and with Andy Murray looking shaky against impressive Alexander Dolgopolov who was the 1st player he faced so far to give him a test in Melbourne, both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, set to square off early tomorrow, are staring opportunity in the face.  Federer, who opened at – 235 on the money line, with Djokovic at + 185, has seen the odds shift slightly in his favor today.  The odds are now:

Federer:  – 240 (wager 240 units to win 100 plus initial wager)

Djokovic:  + 180 (wager 100 units to win 180 plus initial wager)

Federer is 13-6 lifetime in the head to head, but discounting the first 3 matches and the last 3, is only 7-6.  The biggest match they’ve had in recent history was at the US Open, where Djokovic came from 2 sets to 1 and beat Roger in 5 sets for the first time ever.  Federer served horribly in that match, and didn’t return much better.  He couldn’t have played a worse match, frankly.  To us, he seemed satisfied to return to the final 4 of a major, after his streak was snapped by Soderling in Paris, and was upset by Berdych at Wimbledon.

We don’t want to jinx anything, but we see a different player out there right now.  Actually, 2 different players.  Djokovic has played phenomenal tennis this year, has his serve back on track, and gained a lot of confidence from winning the Davis Cup.  Federer looked shaky to some earlier in the week, but to us, we like what we see.  The Simon match?  Federer did not play badly.  Playing the world #6 in round 2 (Simon might be 39th right now, but at his best was up to #6, and he has returned to that form) was the toughest matchup perhaps that any of the top players faced in rounds 1-4.  Federer destroyed Wawrinka Monday night, displaying his best form in months.  And his form hasn’t been bad at all.  Paul Annacone has made a definite impression on Roger.  The great man has won 27 of his last 28, and won Doha, the YEC, and Basel, and Stockholm this past fall and in the new year, while losing 1 match back in October to Monfils in Paris.  Last week, Simon assaulted Federer’s backhand, in some rallies, going 8 or 9 rally strokes straight to Roger’s weaker wing.  And it held up.  Federer kept hitting backhands, kept his errors down, and took an impressive 46/64 points at net–one of the most prolific matches Roger has played at the net in years.

Djokovic has good odds tonight for a reason.  He has defeated Roger twice in the semi-finals of majors and knows his game intimately.  He has notched 5 wins versus Roger on hardcourts, and is 1-1 versus Federer in his career in Melbourne.

As for the ladies, they will begin soon on ESPN2.  We think both lines are very curious and disrespectful to established talent.  First of all, in the first semi, world #1, Caroline Wozniacki is actually underdog to 9th seed Li Na.  Here are the odds:

Na Li:  – 125 (wager 125 units to win 100 units plus initial wager)

Caroline Wozniacki:  + 105 (wager 100 units to win 105 units plus initial wager)

In the second semi…

Kim Clijsters:  – 160 (wager 160 units to win 100 units plus initial wager)

Vera Zvonareva: + 140 (wager 100 units to win 140 units plus initial wager)

We love Vera and Wozniacki tonight.  Both are due to break through.  Frankly, if Wozniacki can’t break through against Li Na, then it’s not happening.  Zvonareva was slaughtered at the USO by Clijsters in the final.  What’s changed since then?  Well, Clijsters looked vulnerable for the first time in ages the other night, and Vera continues to improve.  We think Vegas took note.  Clijsters is a player who frequently breaks down, and she has played a lot of tennis now in the last year and a half.  Agnes Radwanska gave her a real tussle the other night, and we see her as a pop gun player with no weapons of note.  She had Clijsters on her heels at times, and had she pulled out the close 2nd set tie-breaker, we think she’d have won the match.

Zvonareva has now finaled at two straight majors.  She’s knocking on the door.  Let’s see her kick it in.  We do not like Clijsters, and we have always appreciated Zvonareva, and love the fact that she is an excellent doubles player and a major doubles champion.

Crack (,

Next Page »