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  1. Re: French Open 2015 Keeping this short as the match is about to start. Nadal has got to be the value proposition here given he's readily available at odds of greater than 3.00. For all the hype about Djokovic, I have seen nothing to be convinced he has got the mental fortitude to outlast Nadal. In 2011, Djokovic got the better of Nadal in both Madrid and Rome and stormed into Roland Garros on the back of a 43-match winning streak only to have his run ended by Federer in the SF (who was put to the sword by Nadal in the final). In 2012, Djokovic ended Nadal's run in Monte Carlo and repeated his triumph in Rome only to fall short in the final at Roland Garros. 2013 was perhaps a bit of an aberration when Djokovic pushed Nadal to 5 sets. That said, play on the first day was similar to the cloudy - and heavier - conditions (and Paris is nothing like that today if Serena-Errani match is any indication) to what Nadal encountered when he lost to Soderling in 2009 where Djokovic did most of the damage. Notwithstanding the SF resuming the following day and Djokovic going 4-2 up in the 5th set, Nadal simply stormed his way back to take the 5th set 9-7. A sign of Djokovic closing the gap on Nadal a la how Nadal closed the gap on Federer at Wimbledon in 2006 and 2007 before going on to beat him in 2008? Not quite as events a year later would testify. I personally thought 2014 represented Djokovic's best chance to beat Nadal, but looking at the way he simply wilted did little to inspire any confidence in backing him to beat Nadal today. Djokovic has not demonstrated any signs of real intent - barring the SF in 2013 split over 2 days under highly contrasting conditions - to suggest he's capable of beating Nadal in a best-of-5 match on clay and certainly not in Paris. If anything, much has been made of Nadal's abysmal claycourt form (by his standards) coming into this year's Roland Garros which lends much optimism to the Djokovic cause. Having said that, I have seen enough over the last 2 rounds of Nadal's shot-making picking up to suggest he'd be no less competitive than he was in last year's final and it would be a very tall order indeed for Djokovic to oust him here. On a sidenote, much value also lies in Ferrer to beat Murray as the Scot has never beaten Ferrer on clay - on the back of that, I can't see how he should even start this as an odds-on favourite. Massive value on the 2 underdogs today and I'd certainly agree with those backing the handicaps to only back them if you're on the favourite (ie. Murray and Djokovic) as it makes very little sense to suggest the underdogs would clear the handicap but lose their matches.
  2. Re: Australian Open 2015 I am not quite sure where the optimisim for Wawrinka is coming from. So he ousted Djokovic at the AO SF last year and had pushed Djokovic close (before losing in 5 sets) at both the AO and US Open in 2013. All said and done, I think the Djokovic we see today is very different from the one who was struggling with some sort of an identity crisis (personally, I regard the Djokovic between the US Open in 2012 and the Wimbledon in 2014 to be a different animal as his focus seemed to have shifted elsewhere not helped by his hiring of Becker - which necessitated time to bear fruit - and the imminent birth of his child). Against that backdrop, I'd hesitate to read too much into this as an in-form Djokovic will beat Wawrinka at a canter any day (as was the case in London at the end of last year). Realistically, I don't see how Djokovic will make this any tougher than it needs to be considering he already has 24 hours less to prepare for the final than Murray - while Djokovic may drop a set if his concentration dips, I just don't see him not covering the handicap if he doesn't lose a set 6-2 (or worse). Expect Djokovic to cover the -5.5 handicap comfortably - this could be a far simpler encounter than many would think...
  3. Re: Australian Open 2015 Many interesting points have been raised on Murray-Berdych. All said and done, I think the key to this match rests very much in the hands - and head - of Murray. One reason why I wouldn't read too much into h2h boils down to the phase in which these past matches were historically played. Murray in the pre-Lendl days left an awful lot to be desired mentally and Berdych was clearly one of those who had his number when his head drops (the 2010 French Open encounter was scandalous - Murray basically stopped playing after going a set and a break down; he still pushed Berdych close despite swearing and yelling for a good set and a half). While I am unconvinced Mauresmo will provide any tangible contribution to Murray's career going forward (read Grand Slam success), I think he has come into this year's AO in far better shape than he had in any slam since Wimbledon in 2013. While Vallverdu's addition will no doubt have strengthened Berdych's game thus far, I don't think he has been all that impressive (he hasn't been bad by any stretch of the imagination I must add) given the quality of the opponents he has played bar Nadal. I personally think too much is made of the Nadal result (which will no doubt give Berdych a boost) as Nadal was clearly far from his best (Nadal being Nadal will simply play through the pain barrier and not retire without revealing anything about his physical wellbeing) - I personally think too much has been made of Berdych's win there. On the other hand, Murray has been solid (nothing overly impressive as well) bar the phase of sloppy play against Dimitrov which should really have gone to 5 sets. So long as Murray keeps his head screwed on right and focuses for the match, this could be a simpler contest than many would think. Murray -1.5 Games for me.
  4. Re: World Cup Final - Germany v Argentina > Sunday July 13th 10pts Germany -1.5 (4.75 @ William Hill) Truth be told, it's about time we had a World Cup final with some sense of normalcy after the last two tight, knife-edged affairs with neither sides really playing to win (looking back at France-Italy in 2006 and Spain-Netherlands in 2010) with a bigger emphasis placed on playing not to lose. As many have rightly pointed out (including Scolari who commented - before Brazil's semi-finals - the current German side is 6 years in the making), the groundwork and foundations laid for the current crop's success was done back in the summer of 2004 after an embarrassing group stage elimination at Euro 2004. While Klose, Lahm and Schweinsteiger are the only survivors from the 2006 squad, Klinsmann and Low's expansive brand of football was clearly shaped in those dark days when Germany's traditional industry and solidity started failing them. For those old enough to remember the 2002 World Cup squad marshalled by the likes of Kahn, Ramelow, Schneider, Ballack, Kehl and Metzelder with little creativity up front, the current squad - from the pedigree to playing style - is pretty much the antithesis of the miraculous bunch of over-achievers from 2002 (to be honest, I can't think of anyone from that squad besides Kahn and Ballack who would get into today's Germany squad). What then followed was a long, arduous process of overhauling an archaic academy system in the Bundesliga, adopting a new courageous brand of exciting footballing philosophy and making numerous minor tweaks along the way follow near-misses to Italy and Spain (Germany have been eliminated by one of these teams at every major tournament since 2006). This is precisely the very reason I see the Argentines coming unstuck (I wouldn't back them even if this match was played on Space) simply because the level of cohesion, unity and telepathic understanding in the German squad is the result of almost a decade's tireless endeavour (enhanced and refined especially over the last 4 years). The expansive, attacking football with a visibly improved sense of ball retention and possession-oriented play (nurtured in the aftermath of defeats to Spain at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup as admitted by Joachim Low) is where I see the Germans will tear the Argentines apart. While much has been made of their defensive solidity (and credit to Sabella on this front as I have little doubt that's what has taken them this far in this tournament), Argentina simply hasn't shown enough panache to break mediocre teams down and their painful exploits against Iran, Switzerland, Belgium and Netherlands were a chore to watch (and it's hardly saying they blew anyone away against Bosnia or the dead rubber against Nigeria either). With Di Maria and Aguero's match fitness questionable (I have seen and read little to believe either is match fit to begin with), their entire attack effectively hinges on the talents of Messi. As brilliant as Messi is, the current Argentine side simply isn't set up to support him the way Barcelona has done for years and I just don't see him shackling a consistently reliable and cohesive German defence and midfield. In short, I am convinced of a German win as much as Chiellini being bitten by Suarez. However, where I think the crux of this match will be decided is the oppressive and forceful attacking pressure the Germans will put on the Argentines. The Argentines have not had to endure any onslaught that the Germans have mustered against far more capable opposition than those Argentina have had to face en route to the final. I fully expect the Argentines to crack and if the Germans bag their first early, I expect the floodgates to open as the Argentines will need to go chasing the game. Part of the Argentine's defensive fairytale so far stems from the fact they haven't actually gone behind in any of their matches (by coincidence or design, they have always ended up playing opposition happy to shut up shop until they are compelled to attack) and I just don't believe they have the wherewithal to muster a response when the Germans break them down. I expect tonight's match to be the glorious final chapter in a story that started a decade ago with the Germans showing they have mastered the lessons of that defeat to Spain back in 2010 - and the culmination of an elusive dream for a generation.
  5. Re: Australian Open 2014 10pts@1.66 Nadal -5.5 Games (William Hill) Considering this is an evening session match and pits a serial Grand Slam winner against a Grand Slam final debutant, Nadal to emerge victorious is pretty certain as night follows day. Injuries and an assassin taking Nadal out are just about the only factors that could deny Nadal his 14th Slam. Truth be told, I cannot understand where all this "Wawrinka ran Djokovic close, so he should do the same to Nadal" is coming from, really. By that same logic, Martin Verkerk should have won the Roland Garros in 2003 and Robin Soderling should have also won the Roland Garros in both 2009 and 2010. A swallow doesn't make a summer and while Wawrinka may have pushed Djokovic close in the Australian and US Open last year before gaming the Serb this year, I don't believe Wawrinka having Djokovic's number will have any bearing on this one. During the same period where Wawrinka had pushed Djokovic to 5 sets three times over the past 13 months, Nadal continued to chalk up 4 straight-sets victory against Wawrinka. On the back of it, I'd consider a monumental achievement if Wawrinka could take a set off Nadal (which is probable if Nadal goes on one of his mental walkabouts). For this reason, I am not backing the Nadal 3-0 and will lump on Nadal -5.5 as I believe the line, just as had been the case in the SF against Federer, is grossly off what should be a 7.5/8.5 line. Should Nadal drop a set, you could bet your bottom dollar Nadal will win a set with at least a double break (ie. 6-2 or better). Hence, in the grand scheme of things, I find it highly unrealistic for Nadal not to clear the 5.5 line. That assessment assumes Wawrinka plays his best tennis - if he comes in overwhelmed at the off, he could be in trouble from the first point. Come the end of the match, the only lingering debate will not involve Wawrinka at all; rather, it'll be the proverbial "is Nadal the greatest tennis player ever?"
  6. Re: Australian Open 2014 10pts Nadal -3.5 Games @ 10/11 (William Hill) I honestly can't really understand how Nadal's line is incredibly low as I would expect a 5.5/6.5 line to be a more reasonable spread. Granted, Federer has played some of the best tennis I have seen him play over the last 18 months (this is coming from someone who has observed Federer at close quarters since 2003) and his partnership with Edberg has done wonders to improve his game as well. The biggest change I have detected is Federer is now cutting the points a lot shorter knowing full well it would be to his detriment to prolong rallies - and he's become more patient at that compared to how he would use to go for these wild shots in recent years. That, however, is hardly going to be enough to trouble a fluid mover like Nadal as their rivalry over the years would attest. However, beyond the mental edge Nadal obviously has over Federer, it's easy to be misled by the supposed "performances" of the two players coming into this match. Federer has been nothing short of splendid (his straight sets win over Tsonga surprised me more than his 3-1 win over a semi-fit and out-of-sorts Murray) and much has been made of Nadal's struggles in the earlier rounds. I am amazed no one has pointed out a glaring fact - Nadal actually has a propensity to struggle in day sessions and seems to come on as a completely different animal in the night ones. His performances over Tomic (albeit evening session) and Kokkinakis would have provided little to suggest the thrashing he'd dish out to Monfils subsequently. Thereafter, he has followed that up with further lacklustre displays against Nishikori and Dimitrov - and now, the talk of the town seems to indicate Federer's going to win this one. It simply doesn't quite make sense to believe Nadal's supremacy in recent years will suddenly be diminished on the back of Federer's Indian summer - I am not even factoring in his blister here as what he has now is nothing close to what he had to deal with in his Rome Masters final against Coria (who was the leading claycourt player by a long mile) some years back. Nadal's guile and industry will run and grind Federer down - it has been 7 years since Federer last beat Nadal in a Grand Slam match at Wimbledon in 2007. That is not going to change anytime soon.
  7. Re: Australian Open 2014 CzechPunter, great call on Berdych there. Couldn't have seen that coming. While Ferrer didn't help himself by sleepwalking for the first set and a half (he started playing too late), credit shouldn't be taken away from Berdych who played a solid match throughout.
  8. Re: Australian Open 2014 10pts David Ferrer to beat Tomas Berdych @ 2.38 (Betfair) I cannot for the life of me see where the optimism for Berdych is coming from. Berdych is, simply put, a one-dimensional player who's incapable of adjusting his style of play against opponents with a more varied game. There's a reason why Ferrer is where he is - and has been for years. For a player without significant talent in his arsenal to threaten the finest talents of this generation (amongst whom are three who will go down in history as all-time greats), Ferrer's workmanlike performances have very clearly set him apart from just about everyone else on tour outside the Big 4. Interestingly, two of Berdych's wins against Ferrer came at the end-of-season London (in 2011 and 2013) tournament where Ferrer is notorious for being jaded come the year's end. Take those two results aside, I cannot even see Berdych threatening Ferrer much in their meetings over the years. On pedigree, experience and work ethic, Ferrer is miles ahead of Berdych. I'd gladly back Ferrer at 1.50 for this one - at 2.38, Ferrrer will be the biggest bet of the tournament for me so far. By my reckoning, Berdych will not even have what it takes to push Ferrer to 5 sets.
  9. Re: Australian Open 2013 10pts Tommy Robredo to beat Jesse Levine (2.10 @ Paddy Power) I am surprised no one has spotted this match-up which I think the bookies have gotten horribly wrong. This has got to be the mismatch of the round price-wise. For some of the older folks who have been long around to witness epics like the Robredo-Safin showdown at Roland Garros in 2005, there's very little doubt form and fitness permitting, Robredo is a top 15 (and possibly top 10 player) player even by today's stratospheric standards in the men's game. While Robredo has shown glimpses of his best over the latter half of 2012, he has clearly proven himself to be a player who should be challenging at a far higher level than the Challenger and his ranking currently suggests. Jesse Levine, quite frankly, is a no hoper who doesn't have much of a future in tennis - the perennial 2nd, 3rd round frequent visitor at tournaments who really does not have the potential nor mental fortitude to get anywhere in the world of top class professional tennis. Let's be honest - he'd be lucky if he fleetingly breaks the Top 50. As they say, form is temporary but class is permanent - Robredo to win this in 4 at most. 10pts Aljaz Bedene -1.5 Sets to beat Benjamin Becker (1.91 @ Stan James) This is another of those bets where the sportsbooks clearly do not seem to know what they are doing. Aljaz Bedene is a solid up-and-coming player who has done wonders on the Challenger Tour and is clearly making his presence felt at the ATP Level. Benjamin Becker, on the other hand, is a journeyman whose greatest claim to fame must have been his 3rd Round victory at the US Open in what was an ageing - and limping - Andre Agassi's final match as a pro. Since then, he has often flattered to deceive and clearly hasn't shown any threat to any player with a reasonable pedigree. Bedene has all the makings of a Top 30 player and if he continues to progress at the current rate, it's only a matter of time before he cracks that elite group - Becker certainly will not be good enough to stand in his way. Bedene should take this in 4 at worst.
  10. Re: Finland - Veikkausliga (17th Sept 2006) Good call, Galea! :clap Just wondering, did Honka have a second goal disallowed at the death? One of the live score sites seemed to indicate the match being 2-2 at one point before they rectified it... Good result, nonetheless. ;)
  11. Re: Finland - Veikkausliga (17th Sept 2006) Thanks for the update on team news, Galea! :ok I will be following you on this one - fingers crossed MyPa will come good... :hope
  12. Re: Wimbledon (M+F) This tourny has been a joke for me, personally. It certainly isn't helping me sustain my interest in it - my interest in this shall end for good if Agassi's penultimate Grand Slam comes to an end today... :$ 40pts Agassi-Grosjean (3.85 @ William Hill) Baghdatis has been pretty lucky to still be around after the injury scare against Mackin and enjoying the rub of the green of watching Pavel retire after just 3 games in the 2nd Round - that said, I still remain unconvinced his game on grasscourt is anywhere near good enough to trouble someone who has been making the QF and SF at Wimbledon in each of the last 3 years. Grosjean should walk this one. How Nadal is 1.40 is beyond me, really. :eek I'd said at the outset I'd be chomping at the bit to back someone to end his run sooner than the books would believe it might - and there surely must be no better opportunity than a clash with Agassi. Granted, grasscourts aren't exactly Agassi's favourite surface(not that he struggles on it though) and Agassi's legs might not be carrying him as well today as they did a decade ago, but we are still talking about someone who has got a game - and on his day - to trouble just about anyone in pro tennis at the moment(Nadal is anything but a top-quality player on grasscourt IMO). That said, I thought Nadal survived his last round thanks in large part to Kendrick's nerves crumbling(something which I'm sure will not happen with Agassi) and considering he'd actually never made it past Round 3 here, I see nothing to suggest he'd buck that trend today - I suppose he could run all day, but stamina alone will not help him beat an experienced player who plays with guile and panache on a grasscourt. Throw in the fact how much Wimbledon means to Agassi and you could be sure even if he were to lose, it wouldn't be for the want of trying... Cheers & Good Luck! :ok Starting Bank : 100.00pts Current Bank : 40.00pts Profit/Loss : -60.00pts
  13. Re: Wimbledon (M+F) One thing that has certainly surprised me quite a bit is the changing of the guards that has gone on at this year's Wimbledon - some have been shocking(like T Johansson, whom I feel is finished, really) while others' mental toughness have been found woefully wanting. Nevertheless, here's hoping something will give... ;) 10pts Srebotnik-Nalbandian (3.08 @ William Hill) Nalbandian to beat Verdasco should be pretty much self-explanatory - it's as big a surprise to me as anyone how Verdasco has done so well at Wimbledon. That said, he hasn't played anyone in the mould of a former Wimbledon finalist who should put him in his place. Srebotnik has got to be way overpriced here IMO. Ability-wise, I see little seperating between the pair on a grasscourt. One thing about Srebotnik's game which could prove telling is her concentration - quite simply, she's not one of those mindless lasses(and there're tonnes of them on the WTA) whose head would start wondering just because she's in a commanding position. Her opponent is quite the opposite as Hantuchova never has a knack of making her life easy - I can see the Slovenian ending the Slovak's hopes here... Cheers & Good Luck! :ok Starting Bank : 100.00pts Current Bank : 50.00pts Profit/Loss : -50.00pts
  14. Re: Wimbledon (M+F) Is anyone watching the Baghdatis-Mackin match? :$ Incredible match it seems - Mackin's leading 2-1 in sets and 3-0 up in the 4th set as I write...
  15. Re: Wimbledon (M+F) Can't believe the price for such a tremendous double(value-wise at least)... :eek 20pts Wawrinka-Vliegen (2.64 @ Ladbrokes) Calleri sneaked through on the back of beating a woefully inconsistent Srichaphan who has a knack of self-destructing from time to time. Just how Wawrinka, who'd sent Karlovic packing in the first round, could be rated as a 50/50 shot to win this one is beyond me - if anything, Wawrinka could have an unknown grasscourt pedigree about him which the books are underestimating big time... Likewise, Mahut is no world beater on this surface and I feel he's still way underpriced on the back of his beating Melzer - Vliegen's just a class apart. Cheers & Good Luck! :ok Starting Bank : 100.00pts Current Bank : 70.00pts Profit/Loss : -30.00pts
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