It’s an all-Swiss affair in the men’s singles on Thursday, as Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka clash for a place in the championship match of the 2017 Australian Open.
And I’ll be hoping for an upturn in fortunes after a few bad days that tend to feature in the second week of this first major of the season.
After praising David Goffin’s improved serving on Tuesday the Belgian had a really poor day in that department on Wednesday and combined with a bad performance on break points he was never at the races against Grigor Dimitrov.
Then Milos Raonic blew half a dozen set points to level his clash with Rafa Nadal at 1-1 and the Canadian’s challenge was over in that one, foiling my five sets wager.
And day 11 offers another tricky match to call in the men’s semi finals between two stars of the game who need no introduction.
Roger Federer vs Stanislas Wawrinka
I must admit that I gave Federer very little chance of winning this title at the start of the fortnight and it would rank as arguably his greatest achievement if he were to win at the age of 35.
Not only that, but his draw featured Wawrinka and Murray just to reach the final, where he would probably have played Djokovic, but with the top two out of the way early on this fortnight has similarities to Fed’s sole French Open triumph.
Only Ken Rosewall when he landed three majors in the early 1970s at the age of 35, 36 and 37 has won a Grand Slam in the Open Era at 35-plus and the only two over-30s to have won one this century are Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, but they were 31 and 32 respectively.
Federer is second favourite to do it, according to the layers, but a sizeable obstacle lies in his path on Thursday in the form of Davis Cup team-mate Wawrinka – or does it?
Fed is 9-0 on hard courts against Wawrinka and 18-3 overall, with each of Stan’s wins coming on clay courts, so you’d have to conclude that assuming Fed still has enough in the tank he’s a decent favourite at around the 1.70 mark.
However, how often have we seen the Swiss maestro cruise through to the second week of majors looking in supreme touch in recent years only to fail to make the final?
He’s lost eight of his last 12 major semi finals and how much is the prospect of one last Grand Slam title playing on his mind in these sorts of matches of late?
So far Fed’s eased through enjoying himself, with no expectations after his long injury lay off and only Kei Nishikori has gone toe-to-toe with him and the Japanese was again found wanting physically.
And what about Wawrinka’s mental hurdle to overcome? Namely his series of meek capitulations to his compatriot, including a thrashing at the hands of Federer in the 2015 US Open when Stan already had two majors under his belt – one that very season.
Stan so often folds against Federer on outdoor hard that it’s tough to fancy him as a 2.14 chance – especially considering he’s been a 3.06 and 3.78 underdog the last twice that this pair have clashed.
Wawrinka’s service hold percentage against Federer on outdoor hard is a poor 70.9%, while Fed has held his own deal 91% of the time versus Stan, which would worry me immensely if I were backing Wawrinka at 21.4 here.
I actually prefer the under 41.5 games here to the match odds market, with very few of their previous meetings being anything other than one-sided affairs.
The one that sticks in my mind was the acrimonious clash at the O2 in 2014 when Mirka Federer and Wawrinka were involved in an unseemly exchange of verbals in what was an entertaining evening all round.
That one was close, but all of their meetings at majors have been done and dusted in three or at most four sets, and I’m happy to wager that the sequence will continue on Thursday in a very tricky match to call.
Best Bet: 1 point win under 41.5 games at $1.88