ATP Wimbledon – Semi-Final – Andy Murray vs Roger Federer
The men’s tournament at Wimbledon reaches the semi-final stage today and there is an extreme contrast between the two matches, with Novak Djokovic starting as an overwhelming favourite against Richard Gasquet, and Roger Federer’s match with home favourite Andy Murray being priced as virtually an even money match.
However, both matches give us reasonable handicap betting opportunities today and I want to focus on the match most people in the Tennis world are looking forward to immensely, Roger Federer against Andy Murray, which starts not before 3pm UK time.
History has failed to split these players with Federer having a very slight (and irrelevant) head to head lead of 12-11. Having said this, the Swiss legend has claimed four of the last five meetings and will go into this in good heart having thrashed Murray 6-0 6-1 at the O2 in November, and has only dropped one set (on a tiebreak) in their last three meetings.
My model also likes Federer, with his serving stats on grass absolutely immense, holding 96.2% of the time on the surface in the last two years. Murray’s 88.5% is 7.7% below, and his return edge of 4.9% (28.1% compared to 23.2%) doesn’t cover this. This made Federer a 1.81 favourite, so around a 20 tick edge on current market prices.
In addition to this, Federer should be much more solid when leading, as he’s lost a break lead 12.0% in the last 12 months compared to Murray’s 22.9%, and Federer is slightly better at recovering break deficits too (45.5% to 41.5%). On this basis, he should be able to claim one-break sets relatively easily if he does get a break lead – Murray should not expect to be able to recover a break deficit anywhere near the ATP Tour average.
This helps us get a handicap betting edge as a 3-1 win for Federer will almost certainly cover a -3.5 game handicap line, as obviously 3-0 will as well. In all the matches Federer has beaten Murray in Grand Slams, he has covered this line.
Adding further confidence to this play is Federer’s record against top ten players on grass at Wimbledon. He has covered this line 9/17 times using this criteria, which also indicates value on the 3.30 available. 9/14 match wins have covered this line, so Federer is more likely than not to cover this line if he wins the match – and the wins where he didn’t came against Stan Wawrinka, Andy Roddick (twice), Rafael Nadal and Pete Sampras. Only Nadal of this quartet is a strong returner like Murray – the others are more serve orientated and by definition can keep matches closer on a quick surface like grass.
In the other semi-final, I’d expect Novak Djokovic to get past Richard Gasquet in facile fashion. His starting price below 1.10 is very justifiable given their head to head record and Gasquet’s woeful record against top ten players when a very heavy underdog (0-19 in his career when SP >6.00) and he’s only ever won a set once in these 19 matches – ironically against Djokovic at the O2 in November 2013.
In Grand Slams using this criteria Gasquet is 0-4, and has lost every match by seven games or more, and in straight sets. The Frenchman’s only head to head win (versus 12 for Djokovic) came in 2007 when he was ranked 8th in the world to Djokovic’s 3, and the player’s level was much closer.
I’d expect Djokovic to be able to cover -6.5 games at 1.64 and a straight sets win at 1.67 with relative ease.
Recommendation: Back Federer -3.5 games at 3.30
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