Ivan Ljubicic

Andy Murray (L.) next to The King.

King of the Realm, our esteemed Lord, Novak Djokovic, who shredded David Ferrer the other night in his QF match, will play his 3rd consecutive night match this morning on Rod Laver, when he takes on Andy Murray in the 2nd Men’s Semi-final.  Should Djokovic win, which he should, he would be in his third Australian Open final, where he is already 2-0.  It would also give The Djoker the chance to successfully defend his 2011 crown.  Should Murray win, which he shouldn’t, he would be in his third consecutive Australian Final, where he is yet to win a set.  Here are the match odds:

Djokovic:  – 300

Murray:  + 240


Many feel this is a good matchup for Murray, and we know why, but we don’t see it.  Murray did not lose to Djokovic between August 2008 and January 2011, as for about a two year period during which Murray over took Djokovic in the rankings, Murray was the mentally tougher and more expertly conditioned player.  That is over now.  A lot has been made of Ivan Lendl’s association with Andy Murray, who has taken over the helm, and we do think it will have a positive effect on Murray in time.  We doubt that time is tonight.  Frankly, we still see Murray receding a bit.  He has had a very hard time with the big 3 at the majors over the last 2 years, and Djokovic seems stronger than ever.

While we hate negative money lines, we kinda feel like betting Djokovic is like putting money in the bank.  In our estimation, this line pays little heed to Djokovic.  During the height of Federer’s dominance, he was usually about a minus 550 at the very lowest.  In those terms, The Djoker is a bargain here.  By our count, Djokovic hasn’t lost on Plexicushion since Indian Wells in 2010, versus Ivan Ljubicic.  By our count, that’s 18 straight.

Guess what?  Djokovic, though it’s only been 5 matches, is also undefeated this year.  Again.  But in fairness, so is Murray, now 10-0 on the year, taking the title in Brisbane a few weeks back.

We also expect a quick match.  How exactly does Andy Murray win points in a match like this?  Djokovic seems impenetrable on both wings and impossible to not get passed by at the net.  Also, not too many aces are struck against him nowadays either.  Murray has to hope for errors, which is his usual strategy, and is precisely why he can’t really beat the top 3.  Djokovic has lost one set so far this fortnight, and is back to baking, having passed out 3 bagels thus far, after doling out something like 15 last year.  Or close to it.  Don’t exactly quote us.  Set props below:

Djokovic wins 3 sets to zero

+ 180

Murray wins 3 sets to zero

+ 700

Djokovic wins 3 sets to 1

+ 250

Murray wins 3 sets to 1

+ 600

Djokovic wins 3 sets to 2

+ 450

Murray wins 3 sets to 2

+ 700


Personally, you might catch us betting on Djokovic in 3 and in 4.  We also like Djokovic to win the 1st set (-200).  He has not lost the 1st set in a major since the Semis at RG (7-6 Federer).  That is a 19 match streak.  These two have played just the once in a major, which was last year’s final.  They’ve met in 3 previous semi-finals, all won by Djokovic.  Djokovic is competing in his 7th consecutive major semi-final, and if he wins, he will advance to his seventh career major final (4-2).

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Canadian wunderkind Milos Raonic (above).

When play commences on the lawns next week, tennis fans will be treated to some very good matchups.  With the Wimbledon draws announced today, we figured we’d let you know what to look out for in the first couple of rounds.  Ladies first:


Ladies Singles–1st Round


(15) Jelena Jankovic vs. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez

Akgul Amanmuradova vs. (23) Venus Williams

Alison Riske (USA) vs. (2) Vera Zvonareva

(6) Francesca Schiavone vs. Jelena Dokic

Christina McHale (USA) vs. Ekaterina Makarova

(18) Ana Ivanovic vs. Melanie Oudin (USA)

Coco Vandeweghe (USA) vs. Eleni Danilidou

Aravane Rezai vs. Serena Williams

Laura Robson vs. Angelique Kerber

(5) Maria Sharapova vs. Anna Chakvetadze


Mens Singles 1st Round


Ryan Sweeting (USA) vs. Pablo Andujar

Fabio Fognini vs. Milos Raonic

Donald Young (USA) vs. Alex Bogomolov Jr. (USA)

Radek Stepanek vs. Fernando Verdasco

Tobias Kamke vs. Blaz Kavcic

Sergiy Stakhovsky vs. Daniel Cox (GBR)

Ivan Ljubicic vs. Marin Cilic

Ivo Karlovic vs. Janko Tipsarevic

Alexander Dolgopolov Jr. vs. Fernando Gonzalez

John Isner vs. Nicolas Mahut

David Nalbandian vs. Julian Reister

Robin Soderling vs. Philipp Petzschner

Kei Nishikori vs. Lleyton Hewitt

Marcos Baghdatis vs. James Blake


The women’s draw features Mary Joe Fernandez’s rag tag crew of hack Fed Cuppers, in Oudin, McHale, and Vandeweghe.  Oudin should get dusted by Ivanovic, who, should she lose, should probably hang it up already.  Coco’s got a glimmer of hope against Danilidou.  McHale should get shredded by Makarova.  FYI, Vania King, who has played well, is in the main draw, as is Alison Riske, who has a very tall order in Vera Z.  Who knows?  Grass is Riske’s best surface, and maybe the Pensylvania product gets lucky.  Zvonareva looked dead during her QF at Eastbourne versus Stosur, after winning 8 of the first 12 games and virtually having the match in the bag.  Zvonareva has played a lot of tennis this year.  Could that bode well for the American who should be installed on our FC squad, especially considering America’s woeful state of affairs and relegation from the World Group?  Journeywoman American by way of Russia Varvara Lepchenko did upset 18th seed Flavia Pennetta at Roland Garros, so we’ll give her a bit of a chance here against 19th seed, Yanina Wickmayer.  Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, one of the few women with the stones to consistently attack, has a great shot to upset Jelena Jankovic.  The Spaniard is 2-1 lifetime versus the gutless, annoying Serb.  Also, it would be nice to see young Brit Laura Robson win her first round match with Kerber.  Kerber will be favored.

Not to run on about the men, but we do feel it’s high time that Ryan Sweeting, with his ranking up to 66th, notch his first ever match win on grass.  We’re very interested to see our boy, young beast Milos Raonic on the grass.  The possibility of a 3rd round match between Raonic and Nadal would make for appointment television.  As would a possible Del Potro/Nadal round of 16 affair.  Nice to see DP in the top 25 again (24).  Tommy Haas looks for his first win of the year, and we welcome him back, as well as David Nalbandian, who won 2 rounds at Halle.  We also welcome back Chilean ball crusher Fernando Gonzalez who might be a big problem for Dolgopolov, who seems to adjust poorly to specialty surfaces.  We love Stepanek, a nice net player, as an upset special in round 1.  We’d love to see James Blake do something in the spot versus Baghdatis, but Blake is even more disappointing than usual at Wimbledon.  Things look good for former boys champ Donald Young, in a very winnable 1st round match versus another American Alex Bogolomov.  We always love watching talented 1-hander Segiy Stakhovsky, who gets diminutive British hack Daniel Cox in round 1.  We hope Soderling has a good run here but it wouldn’t shock us if Philipp Petzschner, a very good grass courter and last year’s doubles champ gave him a good go.  Our favorite techno tennis player, Janko Tipsarevic has his hands full with ace machine Ivo Karlovic.  We might put a few dinari on Dr. Ivo.  It would be a good time for Marin Cilic to wake up, though we don’t have much confidence in that.

And in maybe the most celebrated first round rematch ever, we look for Giant John Isner, whose ranking has fell to near 50, to get back on track and take care for Mahut before it gets to 70-68 in the 5th.  Isner has weathered the clay season, and can not be faulted for taking Nadal to 5 hard sets at Roland Garros in round 1.  We look for him to have a great summer starting here, and carrying over to the American summer hardcourt season.




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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.

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