The first of the quarter finals of the men’s singles at the 2017 Australian Open are set for Tuesday, with Swiss stars Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka looking to make it through to face each other in the last four.
Our only wager of the day was successful on Monday when Dominic Thiem and David Goffin just about edged past the overs line, which looked virtually certain after two very tight opening sets.
Thiem made us sweat on that one before doing enough as Goffin eased through the final two sets, with the Austrian struggling, to take his place in the last eight.
There was frustration though with Roberto Bautista Agut, who could have beaten Milos Raonic in straight sets, but ended up losing in four.
RBA blew a 5-1 lead in the first set tie break, won set two and had break points to serve for set three, but once those opportunities weren’t taken the Spaniard was crushed mentally.
Stanislas Wawrinka vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Surprisingly, this experienced pair have never faced each other on an outdoor hard court before and for my money there’s a bit of value on the Frenchman here.
Six of their seven career meetings have been on clay, with the exception being their very first clash, which was on indoor hard in Metz in the first round in 2007 and Tsonga won that one as underdog.
They’ve clashed three times at the French Open, with all of those matches being tight and Wawrinka winning two of them, but you’d expect that, with Tsonga hardly favouring the red dirt.
Tsonga will find the conditions that this match will be played on far more to his liking and I’m not convinced at all that the Swiss pair of Wawrinka and Federer should be the favourites to win this tournament now that Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are out.
No-one has ever won a major at Federer’s age in the men’s game, while Wawrinka must beat Tsonga and (probably) Federer to get to the final, and Stan seems a tad short in the betting to me.
Tsonga’s outdoor hard court service hold/break stats at main level in the past year are better than those of Wawrinka, with the Frenchman holding 90.2% of the time and breaking 21.7% of the time for a decent overall of 111.9.
Wawrinka’s overall mark is 108.5, made up of 84.9% holds and 23.6% breaks, so on those numbers Tsonga looks decent value in this one, although it should be noted that his record against top-five ranked opposition isn’t great.
Career-wise it’s only 27% on hard courts versus top-five opponents, but he hasn’t played them much of late on outdoor hard, with the most recent being a 6-7, 6-7 loss to Djokovic in slow conditions at Indian Wells.
Prior to that it was Djokovic again in the final of the 2015 Shanghai Masters, where he beat Nadal in the semi finals, so Tsonga hasn’t tested himself much versus the best on quick hard outdoor hard for a while.
He said at the start of the season: “Now, I don’t have pain [in my knee] anymore. I had pain for a few years and this gives me expectations for next season, as I will be able to play with my two legs.”
Tsonga looks fit and if he is at his best physically he stands a big chance as underdog against a Wawrinka who has hardly impressed so far and was again scratchy against Andreas Seppi in the last round needing three breakers to beat the Italian.
Mischa Zverev vs Roger Federer
What could look better on paper for Federer than a quarter final of a major against an opponent he double bageled last time they met and who had never been past the round of 32 at a major until this week?
You’ve got to hand it to the veteran Swiss maestro, who’s now favourite with many layers to win a first Grand Slam title since Wimbledon 2012, and he’s a warm order to beat Zverev at around the 1.1 mark.
Fast hard courts have rarely been a preferred surface for Zverev the elder, who said after his heavy defeat by Jack Sock at the US Open last year: “There wasn’t much I could do. He needs an opponent who can get him in trouble with a big serve or a fast game, so my brother would have been a better match-up. I like to have time and a structure in my game and he took that away.”
Time is something that he won’t get against Federer in these conditions and Zverev had better hope that the five sets against Kei Nishikori has taken a fair bit out of the 35-year-old’s legs.
And it’s a reasonable hope for Zverev because Federer’s record is not the best in matches played after a five setter the previous round in Grand Slams.
The last four times that Fed has won a five setter at a major he’s lost in the next round going back to the Australian Open of 2013, with the last time he won one being Wimbledon 2012 when he beat Xavier Malisse in four after beating Julien Benneteau in five.
It’s hard to see him losing this one though and the only wager that’s of interest to me here is the under 32.5 games, but I think I’ll pass on this match.
2 points win Tsonga to beat Wawrinka at $2.33