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Saturday, 6 September 2014

US Open Day 13 Picks 2014 (September 6th)

It wasn't the best viewing to see Shuai Peng collapsing in the heat of New York City with cramps that saw her forced to withdraw from the first Grand Slam Semi Final of her career. At the time of the retirement, Peng was down a set and a break, but she still had a chance in the match and it was frustrating for the picks too as a Caroline Wozniacki win from the position the match was stopped would have been a winner for the handicap mark.

That is obviously secondary to Shuai Peng's health, but it highlighted to me how tough the men are having to play a best of five set match and with a supposedly 'tougher' heat rule than the women who are playing best of three set matches.

All those people who have screamed about equal pay are not so loud when it comes to equal amount of play with the set differential, as well as the fairness of having two different heat rules... Personally I have never had a problem with the ladies earning equal pay outside of the Slam tournaments, but last time I checked, in my most jobs you get paid for the work you're putting in and the ladies simply don't play the same amount of tennis to earn the same money.

This has nothing to do with the standard of the two different sides of the sport- I mentioned on Twitter that it hasn't been that long since women's tennis was vastly more popular than men's tennis so my feelings have nothing to do with who is bringing in the spectators. Unfortunately, no one can argue against the logic that the ladies are getting paid the same amount as the men despite doing less work and that is just unfair as far as I am concerned.


The injury to Peng also had me respecting the men all the more- sure everyone responds differently and Andy Murray was suffering with cramps during the First Round, but how the likes of Kei Nishikori have come through back to back five sets matches and are still standing is testament to the physical specimens the best tennis players in the world have become.


In the second women's Semi Final, Serena Williams dismantled the Ekaterina Makarova game in a dominant manner- it is the third win in a row for Serena Williams over the Russian since the surprising loss to the same opponent at the Australian Open.

That set up the women's Final between two friends in Caroline Wozniacki and Serena Williams and I think it has the potential to be a very good one on Sunday considering how close their two matches this summer have been. Both have been won by the American, but Wozniacki has taken the first set both times and it should be a fascinating match.

I do think Serena Williams has peaked at just the right time and the early feeling is that she will be too strong for Wozniacki, but the pressure of achieving major goals could play havoc on both sides of the court and I'll have a fuller picture and a pick for the Final on Sunday.


For now the attention turns to the two men's Semi Finals which are played back to back on Saturday afternoon. I will be flicking between the matches and the early College Football games for which I have also made picks this week, but I am fascinated by both Semi Finals.

Most casual fans will be hoping for a Novak Djokovic-Roger Federer Final as the perfect way to end the Grand Slams this season, but I do think Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic will have a fair bit to say about that too.


Novak Djokovic - 6.5 games v Kei Nishikori: This is a large number to cover for the World Number 1, but I do think Novak Djokovic is going to be stronger physically of the two players and will eventually wear down and crack through Kei Nishikori.

It is hard to remember that Nishikori considered his place in the US Open draw after a foot injury meant he missed both Masters events this summer, but he has shown a new found belief in winning back to back five set matches.

That takes away some of the concerns about his physical ability to compete at the very top of the men's game and Nishikori could potentially move into the void that David Ferrer will soon be leaving. He can chase down balls and is also a strong shot-maker that can change defence into attack on the court, although his serve may always make him vulnerable to winning a Major tournament.

While I am less concerned about Nishikori's physical abilities going forward, he is still coming off long back to back five set matches and is coming up Novak Djokovic who has been in strong form throughout the tournament.

Djokovic looks like a man on a mission to add to the Wimbledon title he picked up in July and also feels he can outlast opponents in long matches. He has had enough time to recover from the Quarter Final win over Andy Murray and I think Djokovic will close out a couple of tight sets to open the match before taking complete control as Nishikori's tiredness perhaps becomes more of a factor in a 64, 64, 62 win for the World Number 1.


Roger Federer - 5.5 games v Marin Cilic: Roger Federer managed to save a couple of match points on his long road back from two sets down to beat Gael Monfils in the Quarter Final, but I think he may have a little easier time when he faces Marin Cilic in this Semi Final.

The former World Number 1 has won all five previous matches against Marin Cilic, although they have only met once since 2012 and that was a close three set match in Toronto. However, Federer was the better player on the day and would have been a more comfortable winner if he took the chances that did come his way.

Cilic is playing well enough to cause Federer some problems in this one, especially if the rallies go from backhand to backhand, while the big man is serving effectively and returning aggressively. These components give him every chance of winning a set in the match, but I can't help but feel Federer has come through a match he would have lost last year and is now going to kick on and reach the Final on Monday.

He will have to serve better than he did in the match with Monfils as Cilic is returning very well, but I can see Federer cracking the serve of the Croatian and I think he can then run through the match against an opponent that can be demoralised in big matches.

It is interesting to see that Cilic has been knocked out of all three Grand Slam tournaments this year while failing to get within this number- more worrying would be the tendency for losing sets 62 or 61 in matches that he has lost and I think Federer may come through in four sets, but still manage to get above this number.

MY PICKS: Novak Djokovic - 6.5 Games @ 1.80 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 5.5 Games @ 2.20 Pinnacle (2 Units)

US Open Update: 20-15, + 14.86 Units (63 Units Staked, + 23.59% Yield)

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