A tournament of shocks, but Nadal should beat Wawrinka in Australian Open final

Stan Wawrinka has improved on last year's US Open semi-final run, but this game could be one too many

Stan Wawrinka has improved on last year’s US Open semi-final run, but this game could be one too many

Look, I’m not going to pretend that I’m not disappointed that my predictions for this tournament fell apart at various points over the past two weeks, but I’m going to balance out my failings by deflecting the spotlight. The following “experts” also got it wrong with the Djokovic/Williams championship pairing: Pam Shriver, Cliff Drysdale, Bruce McAvaney and Pat Cash.

So if you want to compare me to Pat Cash, who won at Wimbledon and reached the Australian Open final twice, go for your life. I’m not complaining.

 

Australian Open Men’s Final Betting Odds

Rafael Nadal to win – 1.17

Stanislas Wawrinka to win – 5.00

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

We’re left with Stanislas “Stan” Wawrinka and Rafael “Nads” Nadal (Not sure anyone calls him this – ed.).  These are the two that came through the fire and brimstone of the first week at Melbourne Park, and have each managed wins over big seeds in their previous two matches. Of course, Stan won’t have enough for Nadal, because nobody ever does.

“But he beat Djokovic!” you cry, and even if you don’t, let’s pretend you do for the purpose of the point I’m about to make. Stan has never beaten Rafael Nadal. In his previous 12 matches with the Spaniard, Stan hasn’t even taken a set. They’ve played out six tiebreaks on hard courts, and Stan has never edged one.

 

This is the flipside of underdog finals: we love Stan, and hope the best for Stan, and so we like to think that Stan can do it, but reality gets in the way. Historically, the last game of the Australian Open isn’t the stage for an upset. Since the tournament moved from Kooyong to Melbourne Park in 1988, on only four occasions has the higher-seeded player in the final lost. Unless The Blister (which I feel is now wide and deep enough to refer to with capital letters) on his left hand decides to swallow his racquet, and with it the rest of the universe, Nadal shouldn’t have too many problems.

Calling specifics is a dangerous game in that I try my best not to look foolish, but I am somewhat obligated to actually suggest my tips as someone who, in some circles, has been compared to Pat Cash. I’d expect Stan to pick up a hard-fought set in the biggest match of his career to date, but Nadal should finish it in four. Temperatures bizarrely halved overnight at the end of the first week of play, so heat is no longer a factor, though Stan hasn’t had it easy. His last two wins have been gruelling – and occasionally spectacular – but it’s hard to see how he’ll be able to hold that level against the world number one who, like Wawrinka himself, is playing very close to his best.

 

Despite a certain inevitability about this match – Nadal loses and I’m made to look foolish – it should be entertaining. Looking for tennis? Look no further: they’ll be hitting balls really fast over a net, and that’s usually enough.

Betting Instinct Tip – Nadal to win in four sets is 3.25 with GR88.com

 

Max avatarMAX GRIEVE (maxjgri) is Australian, but keep reading. He likes football, rugby union and tennis, though has given up on his dream of being a tri-sport athlete/exciting millionaire. He supports Liverpool, and is ashamed for doing so.

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Nadal and Djokovic Favoured to make the Final in Abu Dhabi

Djokovic on his way to his second Mubadala World Tennis Championship title.

Djokovic on his way to his second Mubadala World Tennis Championship title.

As things stand at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi we have four players remaining at the Semi Final stage after we bid goodbye to Stanislas Wawrinka, who was beaten in straight sets by David Ferrer, and Andy Murray, whose return from injury did not go according to plan as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga sent the Scot crashing out. Today’s Semi Final matches see Ferrer go head to head for the 27th time against fellow Spaniard and world number one Rafael Nadal, while Frenchman Tsonga faces two time reigning champion in Abu Dhabi Novak Djokovic for the second final berth.

GR88.com favour the world numbers one and two to win their Mubadala World Tennis Championship Semi Finals and see a 40th meeting of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic tomorrow. Their betting odds for the semi finals of this competition are as follows.

David Ferrer v Rafael Nadal:

Ferrer to win – 4.33

Nadal to win – 1.25

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga v Novak Djokovic:

Tsonga to win – 4.50

Djokovic to win – 1.25

(Odds provided by GR88.com are current as of today but subject to change.)

Both Nadal and Djokovic have a great record at this Mubadala World Tennis Championship tournament as they have claimed the title on two separate occasions, with Nadal winning back to back titles in 2010 and the start of 2011, while Djokovic matched Nadal with victory in the first two running’s of the competition in December 2011 and 2012.

Despite neither of them having played a competitive match since their meeting in the final match of the 2013 ATP season at London’s o2 Arena where Djokovic, who had been recently relegated to second in the world behind Nadal, claimed an impressive 6-3, 6-4 victory in the ATP World Tour Finals. He will be desperate to win a third straight tournament win in Abu Dhabi, especially against Nadal, while the Spaniard will be equally motivated to win but both of these players will have to overcome their Semi Final opponents today first.

Nadal has an excellent record against Ferrer with 21 wins in 26 meetings between himself and the world number three and, of the two final four stage matches, I feel that this will be the closer of the two Semi Final games. Ferrer did beat Nadal at the start of November at the Paris Masters and he easily passed Stanislas Wawrinka in the last round so he will be confident of victory against his fellow countryman. Despite this Ferrer is one of the many players that Nadal has an innate ability to defeat in almost every match and with the world number one starting the season well on most occasions I feel that Nadal is the deserving favourite for this match and I can see him taking the first final spot.

Djokovic too has a great record against his Semi Final partner, the world number ten in Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, as he has 11 wins in 16 meetings between the two and he has lost just one meeting since the 2010 Australian Open, almost four years ago. That defeat came at the Paris Masters in 2011 when Djokovic was unable to play and with Tsonga sending 2009 Mubadala World Tennis Championship winner Andy Murray out in the Quarter Finals this year this match is likely to be closer than the odds suggest. However, Djokovic usually hits the ground running, unlike the Scottish Wimbledon champion, and I feel that Djokovic will defeat this familiar foe like in each match played in the last four years and I am too backing the Serbian world number two for victory today.

As a result of this, my best bet from the Mubadala World Tennis Championship action today is back Nadal and Djokovic to reach the final tomorrow in a double.

Back Nadal and Djokovic to win in a double @ 1.56 with GR88.com.

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

The Return of Andy Murray!

2009 Mubadala World Tennis Championship winner Andy Murray in action in Abu Dhabi

2009 Mubadala World Tennis Championship winner Andy Murray in action in Abu Dhabi

This Boxing Day sees the return of both the tennis season and Scottish world number four Andy Murray as Abu Dhabi hosts the curtain raising Mubadala World Tennis Championship where six of the top players in the world battle to claim the title. The winner will be crowned on Saturday and it is world number two Novak Djokovic that is looking to take his third straight victory in the Middle East this weekend.

The action kicks off tomorrow with two Quarter Final matches as David Ferrer takes on Stanislas Wawrinka for a place in the Semi Finals against world number one Rafael Nadal and the second Quarter Finals sees Andy Murray v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga with the victor facing the reigning champion for a spot in the final.

GR88.com favour a winning return for the first British player to claim the men’s Wimbledon title since Fred Perry in 1936 as Murray defeated Djokovic in three sets last summer. Although the Scot has not played in more than two months he is the big favourite to take his ninth win in ten matches against the French world number ten.

Andy Murray v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Betting Odds:

Andy Murray to win – 1.65

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to win – 2.18

(Odds provided by GR88.com are current as of today but subject to change.)

Murray had a disrupted season this year as he suffered two serious injuries, with both back injuries, seeing him miss the French Open in May/June before he missed the end of the season as he required surgery to correct the long standing issue following a second flare up in October. This match is his first time back in a competitive game, but will the Scot take his time in getting back up to speed or will he hit the ground running and move into a match against the Serbian world number two in Djokovic?

Murray could not have a more favourable opponent to start his road to recovery as he has beaten the Frenchman who sits tenth in the ATP rankings in each of their last seven meetings since losing in the first round of the Australian Open in 2008 almost six years ago. Tsonga also comes into this match on the road to recovery after missing much of the third quarter of last season with a knee injury and he has played just five tournaments, reaching the Semi Finals in two and the final in another, since his return to action in September. He will hope to be fully fit for this match and will this fitness advantage give him the edge over a player he struggles against?

All of the UK will be cheering Murray on to a successful return to tennis action, but the Scot tends to have a slow return from injury and is not the best at the very start of seasons. However, with him missing much of the end of last season through injury Murray will be out to prove that he has hit the ground running for a 2014 run from fourth in the ATP rankings back towards the top two spot that he held for much of 2013. I feel that Murray is the better of these two players and I am in agreement with GR88.com that he is the favourite to win in Abu Dhabi and my Christmas money is going on a win for the Scot today.

Back Andy Murray to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship today @ 1.65 with GR88.com.

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.