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French Open Betting: Nadal likely to be tested by Federer in Paris semi final


French Open Betting: Nadal likely to be tested by Federer in Paris semi final

The first of the men’s semi finals at the 2019 French Open is set for Friday in Paris (weather permitting) and Sean Calvert is back to preview a superstar clash between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

The weather forecast for Wednesday was spot on, with incessant rain leading to a total washout on day 11, which means that Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem and Karen Khachanov will have to try again on Thursday.

The forecast for Thursday looks okay, so we should get those matches completed, but it’s set to turn bad again on Friday, so I’m not quite sure when the first of the men’s semi finals will be played.

Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal

This first clash of these particular two titans on clay since 2013 and the first at the French Open for eight years looks a really intriguing one and surely Nadal has been put in a bit too short here at 1.12.

Federer has won their last five meetings, all on hard courts, and the question in this clay clash is whether Federer is able to still utilise the same or similar tactics on a slower surface?

Over the years Nadal has loved this match up on the clay, simply hammering the Federer backhand with his heavily top spun forehand all day long and keeping the Swiss stuck in his backhand corner.

That’s worked to the extent that it’s 13-2 to Nadal overall on clay, but with all of those matches played between six and 14 years ago they may not be that relevant today.

Federer and Ivan Ljubicic worked out that Fed had to take the ball much earlier on the backhand side and try and attack it, which sometimes leads to errors, but that’s been a price worth paying to get him out of Nadal’s pattern of attack.

Whether he can do that on a slow clay surface is questionable and there’s also the fact that this vast Chatrier court allows Nadal the space to defend that most other clay courts don’t.

The question Nadal must answer is whether or not at 33 years of age a long list of injuries behind him he’s still capable of the jaw-dropping defence that he’s become so famous for over the years.

It didn’t look like it in Madrid against an attacking single-hander that used an aggressive court position when Stefanos Tsitsipas took it to Nadal successfully and tore holes in the Spaniard’s defence, but that was at altitude over three sets.

Doing it over the best of five on Chatrier is a different mater, but I’m prepared to risk that Federer has at least one set in him here at these prices.

I’m not sure there’s much value in looking back at their previous meetings in too much detail, as this career series has evolved greatly over the years, but Federer has created a similar amount of break chances to Nadal (0.60 compared to 0.70) in their clay clashes.

By and large, Nadal’s get out of jail card has always been the swinging lefty serve high into Fed’s backhand in the ad court and then the easy put away, so it’s been tough for Fed to take those chances.

The Swiss needs to improve greatly on a weak performance on break points against Stan Wawrinka in the quarter finals, so we’ll see how he approaches the challenge of Nadal on clay this time.

I like the over 150 minutes here (Nadal took 133 to beat Londero in straight sets) or the 3-1 to Nadal at a bigger price of 3.65.

The day’s delay (at least) will surely help Federer to recover from a tough match against Wawrinka and I’d be surprised if this was as comfortable for Nadal as the odds imply.

Betting underdogs have gone 0-12 in the men’s French Open semi finals since 2011 and I’d expect that to continue here, but a cakewalk for Nadal seems unlikely.

Best Bet

0.5 points win Nadal to beat Federer 3-1 at 3.65

 

 


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Sean Calvert
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