Looking to continue his good record in a profitable column, Jack Houghton thinks that Andy Murray can serve the most aces on route to serving up a grand slam win in New York. And given how closely matched Djokovic and Murray are, it's more than likely that we'll see a tie-break, too.
If you followed the recommendations laid out at the start of the tournament, I hope you were able to trade out of your positions on David Ferrer and Andy Roddick before they got knocked out, and guarantee yourself a small profit. I laid my stake back on both players - so no damage was done - but as is often the way in these situations, I thought they might be able to go one round further than they did, which means the betting account has remained fairly static during this US Open.
I'm hopeful of reigniting things in the final, though. I've been writing this preview of the side markets for the last six men's grand-slam finals, going back to the French Open in 2011, and, when Ferrer went up a set against Djokovic in their semi-final, instead of doing the sensible thing and taking some profits on my outright bet, I instead trawled back through those finals to see how successful these side-market bets have been. Well, 23 bets have been recommended, 11 have won, and they've returned a profit of 24.26 points to recommended stakes. Here's hoping the success continues.
To date, head-to-head, Murray has served more on 12 occasions (86 per cent), to Djokovic's one (7 per cent), with one match ending in a tie. All this tells you that Murray should be 1.171/6 to serve most aces, with Djokovic at 14.013/1. It's fairly stunning, then, that Murray is as big as 1.608/13. This may be partly due to the fact that, whilst Murray might typical win the ace battle, the count is often low for both players, with very little between them. Nonetheless, there is value to be had here, and in order to have the dead-heat working for us, I'll be laying Djokovic at 2.285/4.
In a total of 34 sets they have played, Djokovic and Murray have contested six tie-breaks, or one every 5.6 sets played, making them the most-likely match up of the world's top four to play a tie-break. Assuming they play four or five sets in Monday's final, that translates to odds of 1.422/5 that we'll see a tie-break, and 3.4012/5 that we won't. At around 1.705/7 then, "Yes" looks enormous value, and I'll be sticking a fair bit on.
With a head-to-head score of eight-to-six - where Djokovic holds the slight advantage - it's clear that there is very little between the two players, and if you ignore their early matches, when Djokovic, presumably, held an advantage of experience over the rookie Murray, then the Scot has tended to do quite well against the current world number two. However, it will worry supporters of Murray that, on the two occasions the pair have met in a grand slam - both times at the Australian Open - it has been Djokovic with the advantage.
I've written before about the chances of Murray breaking his grand-slam hoodoo, but one thing the statistics will fail to account for is his Olympic win. It's clear that many players now view that title as at least equally important as a grand slam win, so perhaps we need to take Murray's performance in August as evidence of a player now capable of winning when it matters.
With this in mind, I'm tending to think that this match is little more than a toss-up, and given that Murray is the bigger price of the two players, it makes sense to support the Scot in the set betting markets.
Despite how closely matched the two appear, though, they have not tended to produce especially competitive matches. Of the 46 sets they've had available to play in their matches, they've only used 34, or 74 per cent of them. Applying this to Sunday's final, we might expect to see three or four sets, but, perhaps against expectations, are unlikely to see five. Given I'm prepared to risk supporting Murray, I'll be backing him to win 3-0 (14.013/1) and 3-1 (8.207/1).
5pts lay Djokovic at 2.285/4 in Most Aces market.
7pts back Yes at 1.705/7 in Tie Break Played market.
2pts back Murray 3-0 at 14.013/1 in Set Betting market.
2pts back Murray 3-1 at 8.207/1 in Set Betting market.