Australian Open Men's Betting: Side markets the value in part 33 of Nadal v Federer

Messrs Federer and Nadal lock horns for the 33rd time on Friday
Messrs Federer and Nadal lock horns for the 33rd time on Friday

Two of the great stars of men's tennis take to the court to renew their rivalry in the Australian Open semi finals on Friday and Sean Calvert thinks we could have some match on the cards...

"The set betting with Rafa 3-1 at 4.3100/30 is the best-looking wager in terms of price. If Federer does go 2-1 down I can't see him forcing a fifth."

Back Nadal to win 3-1 at 4.3100/30

It was another good day on Thursday in what's been a much better second week in Melbourne thanks to Stan Wawrinka defeating Tomas Berdych to bring home my handicap wager and move Stan a step closer to the title.

Those on my set betting suggestion of 3-1 to Wawrinka would also have been happy, as the Swiss moved in to 4.57/2 for the outright from 70.069/1.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal resume a career series on Friday that stretches back almost a decade to their very first meeting on the slow hard courts of Miami in the spring of 2004.

Rafa, as a 5.24/1 shot, won in straight sets on March 28, 2004 and went on to be a substantial thorn in the Swiss maestro's side for the next decade.

Federer fans will be delighted the see the old campaigner back to his sprightly best though, with a hit point closer to the baseline, taking the ball early and hitting it with more confidence and accuracy off both wings.

He'll certainly need that single-handed backhand to be at its absolute best, given Rafa's great record against such players and the Spaniard will once more aim to batter it into submission as he has done on 22 of their 32 career meetings, but it may take a while to break this time.

With Federer playing arguably the best tennis he's displayed for years so far in this tournament the match odds prices are much closer than the 1.21/5, 1.282/7 and 1.351/3 that Rafa has started at in their last three meetings.

There's a couple of reasons behind this: one being the Federer revival and the other being Nadal's left hand, which currently is in a right old state with a huge blister that he's admitted makes it very difficult for him to serve.

That much has been evident in his most recent two matches here at Melbourne Park against Kei Nishikori and Grigor Dimitrov, both of whom failed to take their chances to push Rafa far closer than three and four set defeats in the record books will show.

Dimitrov, another single handed rightie, failed when the pressure was on with a few choky errors, while Nishikori didn't seem to believe at the vital times either, but it's far from certain that Federer will either, bearing as he does, the scars of so many losses to Nadal.

Roger as he nears his mid-30s has begun to think too much where once he played with certainty and it showed again when he failed with match points for a 3-0 win over Murray and it could well have cost him against a fitter Andy.

Rafa plays better than Roger on the big points and unless Rafa's hand makes it impossible to serve and hit that trademark forehand without major discomfort it will probably be another win for Nadal, but that's where the guesswork comes in.

As with Murray in the quarter finals we have no idea how badly that hand is hampering Rafa. It is to some degree quite clearly, so I can't be backing him at 1.695/7 in that state. It'll look very big if he's close to 100 percent though, but I'd rather bet elsewhere in this one.

Federer's match odds price doesn't appeal at all with his record against this opponent, so the alternative markets are the place for value here.

I suspect this will be tight early on, with Federer knowing a great start is vital, and I like the 8.07/1 about him winning the opener on a tie break as a big priced wager.

Fed did win the opener by that score line in their 2012 meeting here and it appeals again under these circumstances, as does the overs and the set betting with Rafa 3-1 at 4.3100/30 the best-looking wager in terms of price. If Federer does go 2-1 down I can't see him forcing a fifth.

Recommended Bets
Back Federer 7-6 in set one at 8.07/1
Back Nadal to win 3-1 at 4.3100/30

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