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Saturday, 28 January 2017

Australian Open Tennis Day 14 Picks 2017- Men's Final (January 29th)

The Women's Final had all of the emotion that we were expecting prior to Venus Williams and Serena Williams taking to the court, but it lacked the drama once the younger Williams sister settled down in the first set. She managed to do that just quickly enough to avoid going a set down and from the moment Serena moved into a 5-3 lead in the first set, the Final was only going in one direction.

All credit to Venus Williams who fought impressively to stay with Serena as long as possible in the second set, but there were no real alarms for the new World Number 1 as she won an Open era most 23 Grand Slam titles.

The Serena Williams reign looks far from over and she is likely to go into the remaining three Grand Slams as a fairly heavy favourite and much shorter than the price she went off for the Australian Open. It is now up to the rest of the field to show they can bridge the new gap that Serena Williams looked to have produced from the rest, but it is a long season and I would expect Angelique Kerber and Karolina Pliskova in particular to go deep in some of the majors left.

While there was plenty of emotion in the Women's Final on Saturday, I would expect emotions and drama in the Men's Final which looks much more competitive on paper than the Serena v Venus one did.

This might not have been the Final we would have expected at the start of the tournament, but most will be satisfied at getting the chance to see Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal compete for a Slam title again. It might be the last time we get to see that and I think both players might also feel they won't have a better chance to add to their own personal haul of titles which only intensifies the drama and desire for both.

The last couple of days have been tough for the picks with both falling a little short, but that doesn't distract from a very good tournament with just one more match to come on Sunday.

Rafael Nadal v Roger Federer: This has been a surprising run for both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in getting to another Grand Slam Final at the Australian Open- both are coming back from injuries and perhaps were looking to build into the 2017 season, but they are deserved Finalists and it is the kind of match that will draw the attention of both hardcore and casual tennis fans.

There hasn't been a bigger or better rivalry than Rafael Nadal versus Roger Federer in the last fifteen years although the head to to head is slightly skewed in favour of the Spaniard. It is Nadal with the 23-11 head to head advantage over Federer but it is only 10-9 when they are not playing on the clay courts.

However that is when some statistics can be blinding as most of the Federer wins came earlier in their meetings and Nadal is actually 8-4 in non-clay court matches against the Swiss star since beating him in the Wimbledon Final in 2008. I also think it would be foolish to ignore the fact that Nadal has won all 3 previous matches between these players at the Australian Open and he has won each a little more comfortably.

Their first meeting here was in the Final in 2009 that Nadal managed to win in 5 sets, he then beat Federer in 2012 in 4 sets and 2014 in straight sets.

The question is how Nadal is feeling after a bruising five setter in the Semi Final which was played on Friday, a day after Federer had got through in a five setter himself. The feeling is that both are going to be a little sore from an unexpected run, but neither is likely to be back out on court for at least a couple of weeks (I expect Nadal to pull out of the Spanish Davis Cup team regardless of the outcome of the Final) so I think both will be capable of leaving everything out there.

Nadal was a little up and down with his serve in the Semi Final but that has been a shot that has worked for him through the Australian Open and he has been very good at the big points. For all the 'experts' suggesting this court is playing significantly faster than previous years, I am of the opinion that the Rod Laver Arena is not going to let Roger Federer breeze through his service games like the courts at Wimbledon and the US Open can do.

It certainly won't be the case against a returner of the ability of the Spaniard and Federer did have some issues with the serve against Stan Wawrinka in his own Semi Final. Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori combined had 22 break points against the Federer serve and I think Nadal will fashion his chances.

Mentally I do think Nadal has the edge- Federer might have won their last match in the Basel Final in 2015, but I think Nadal is much healthier than he was back then and Federer is perhaps not at the same level. That snapped a run of five consecutive wins for Nadal of which four had been played on the hard courts including at the ATP World Tour Finals which you would think would favour Federer significantly.

I wouldn't be surprised if Nadal is able to get this done in three or four sets, but I will simply back the Spaniard to take the title home at a decent price. Playing in the second Semi Final doesn't put me off Nadal when you remember he had that epic match in the second Semi Final against Fernando Verdasco in 2009 before winning the title in five sets against Federer two days later.

Back then Federer looked healthier and had come through his own Semi Final in straight sets and I am just a little unsure that he enjoys the matches with Nadal as much he says he does. The Spaniard just has that 'Indian Sign' over Federer and I like Nadal to end his wait for another Grand Slam title on Sunday.

MY PICKS: Rafael Nadal @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)

Australian Open Update: 48-36, + 22.10 Units (162 Units Staked, + 13.64% Yield)

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