US Open Day 12 Men's Tips: Nadal generously priced against Del Potro
The US Open men's semi-finals take place tonight in New York, and returning to preview the two matches, is our tennis columnist, Dan Weston...
"Across the last 12 months, Nadal and Del Potro have actually held serve the same amount on hard court - 88.3% - but Nadal has a big advantage on return, breaking opponents 31.6% to the Argentine’s 23.3%, data which does make the current market lines some value."
Millman again gives us a winner on Wednesday
Wednesday's men's action saw John Millman bag us another winner with the Australian covering the +8.5 game handicap line in defeat to Novak Djokovic, and while Millman was eliminated in relatively comfortable fashion, he was a consistent winner for this column during the tournament.
In Wednesday's other quarter-final, Marin Cilic was ousted in five sets by Kei Nishikori, despite winning more points in the match and creating four more break point chances - such are the fine margins often required to win tennis matches.
Djokovic holding all the head to head answers
Following these, Nishikori and Djokovic meet in the second men's semi-final tonight, which will start not before 2300 UK time, although in all likelihood, quite a bit later. Djokovic is the [1.20] market favourite, which is a line I broadly agree with.
Djokovic holds a considerable statistical advantage over his Japanese rival, particularly on serve, and has held all the answers in their recent head to head meetings. In the last three years, the Serb is 10-0 against Nishikori, dropping just three sets out of 25 in the process - it will take a considerable swing in head to head momentum for this match to produce a shock.
Serve a big issue for Nishikori against Djokovic
The main issue for Nishikori in these recent head to head meetings has been on serve, with him winning a mere 54.8% of service points against Djokovic in the last three years, which converts to a 64.0% service hold percentage, and such numbers aptly illustrate why he's had such difficulties against the former world number one in the last few years.
With this in mind, it's certainly difficult to make a case for Nishikori as an underdog tonight, and I want to move on to the other match-up, the first quarter-final, between top seed Rafa Nadal and Juan Martin Del Potro.
At the time of writing, Nadal is the [1.70] favourite and I make this some value. While an almost five hour quarter-final victory over Dominic Thiem, it would be fair to state concerns over the winning player in their subsequent match, but the quirks of the US Open schedule mean that the Spaniard will have had almost 72 hours to recover from these exertions - virtually unheard of recovery time in the latter stages of professional tennis tournaments.
Nadal with recent success over Del Potro in Slam events
While Djokovic has been able to routinely beat Nishikori in their previous meetings, Nadal and Del Potro have only met on four occasions since 2013. Del Potro did get the better of Nadal in the 2016 Olympics semi-final, but Nadal has won their last three meetings - all at Grand Slams.
In these, Nadal eliminated Del Potro at this stage last year here - priced much shorter at [1.36], before eliminating him in this year's French Open and Wimbledon - again priced considerably shorter than market lines.
Market potentially overreacting to fitness concerns
Across the last 12 months, Nadal and Del Potro have actually held serve the same amount on hard court - 88.3% - but Nadal has a huge advantage on return, breaking opponents 31.6% to the Argentine's 23.3%, data which does make the current market lines some value.
So why has the market deigned to price Nadal bigger than all these meetings, and disregard the data making market prices value? I feel that this is largely due to these fitness concerns, but the lengthy rest period for Nadal is likely to be of great benefit. Certainly, the market has made a big adjustment on predicted pricing, and I'm not at all convinced that it should do to this extent.
With this in mind, Nadal at [1.70] is today's recommendation.
Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings
Dan's US Open 2018 P/L
P/L: + 1.12pts (4.87% return on investment)
Back Rafa Nadal at [1.70]