Tuesday at the 2014 Australian Open sees the start of the men's quarter finals and Sean Calvert fancies Tomas Berdych and Novak Djokovic to progress...
"Should Tomas bring his 'A' game to the court he'll take the match away from Ferrer in these conditions and the 1.728/11 about a Czech win here looks good."
The in-form Tomas Berdych, despite sporting a kit the colour combination of which wouldn't look out of place in the nearest lost and found box, has what appears to be a fine chance to make his first Grand Slam semi final since losing to Andy Murray at a wind swept Flushing Meadows in 2011.
To do that the Czech must overcome the dogged Spaniard David Ferrer, who despite being below par so far this season, will prove a tough nut to crack if Berdych strays from the aggressive, hard hitting tactics that he used so effectively against Kevin Anderson.
The Berdman must come out and impose himself on Ferrer the way he did in their last meeting, which was indoors at the O2 in November. If he does that he could win this handily. If he doesn't he's in big trouble.
Ferrer is finding his way on tour without Javier Piles and has looked a little bit confused in some of his matches this campaign. He could indeed have found himself two sets down to Florian Mayer in the last round at a set behind and 5-5 in the second, but the flaky German wasn't up to the task.
Instead, Ferrer made it nine Grand Slam quarter finals in a row, which is testament to his consistency and you can never fault him for endeavour, but he doesn't have the x-factor against the very top players. That is borne out by his record of 2-20 against top-five ranked opponents since the end of 2011.
Berdych doesn't always play top-five tennis of course, but when he does he's almost unplayable and in that same time frame the Czech has an 8-28 record, which shows he is the better performer against the elite.
The world number seven is yet to drop serve this tournament and has bludgeoned his way past an admittedly average set of opponents, peaking in that thrashing of Anderson and indeed he's only faced four break points this fortnight so far.
Despite that kit, the other noticeable thing about Berdych to me is that he's moving around the court better and he appears to be less reticent to come to net than previously and it looks like he's worked on that in the off-season.
Always a little stiff and lacking in adaptability at net in the past there are hints of more subtle play, which can only be a good thing for him and using it to keep the points short will be useful against someone like Ferrer who loves a grind.
Should Tomas bring his 'A' game to the court he'll take the match away from Ferrer in these conditions and the 1.728/11 about a Czech win here looks good. For a more expansive bet the Berdych minus 2.5 games on the handicap appeals at a bigger price.
The later semi final features hopefully (for the fans' sake) a repeat of last year's fourth round epic and one of the matches of 2013 between Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic.
The Serb eventually pulled that one out of the bag 12-10 and although it's too much to expect such an encounter again this time I have to give my outright back-to-lay tip a half chance here.
Wawrinka does have more of a confident manner about him these days and if the penny has truly dropped that he can take on and beat the best in majors he has the weapons to at least cause Novak some problems.
Much depends on his mentality though and similarly to Berdych Stan must come out like he means business, as he did last year when winning the opener 6-1.
I suspect that Novak will be taking nothing for granted here and he'll prove just too strong in what should be another tight encounter, with the 3-1 appealing at around 3.9. The 1.111/9 looks too short on Nole in a clash where Stan has a puncher's chance and those holding a back of Stan outright can try a cover here by taking the set betting option on Djokovic.
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