The men’s US Open reaches the semi-final stage tonight and – quite rarely for the latter stages of Grand Slams – there is a value tennis handicap betting opportunity tonight in the match between Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori, due to start at 10pm UK time, but almost certainly will start much later, with the start time dependent on the Novak Djokovic vs Gael Monfils match.
Typically, with high profile player form and levels well known by the markets at this stage, matches are priced accurately but there looks to be an over-reaction on Kei Nishikori following his victory over Andy Murray on Wednesday evening.
This isn’t necessarily a rare phenomenon – victories over elite players are frequently over valued by the market – but it does mean that my model reflected value on Wawrinka tonight, which is rare in itself.
Nishikori – as per the previously mentioned over-reaction – has been backed from an opening line of around 1.90 to a current 1.75. Wawrinka is the slight underdog, at around 2.26. My model actually priced Wawrinka as the very marginal 1.98 favourite, with both player’s projected hold percentages around the ATP hard court mean.
The Tournament So Far
Wawrinka has struggled against weaker players, dropping sets against Dan Evans – where he was almost eliminated – and Ilya Marchenko (on a tiebreak). However, he’s also beaten Fernando Verdasco in straight sets and impressively got past the in-form Juan Martin Del Potro in four sets (as a pre-match underdog) in the quarter-finals.
Nishikori has also dropped sets against opponents he was expected to beat easily. The out of form Benjamin Becker took the third set from him in the opening round, whilst the young Russian prospect pushed him in four close sets in the second round. Only against Ivo Karlovic did Nishikori win in straight sets.
There is also the question of how much Nishikori’s comeback win – a match which lasted three minutes shy of four hours – will have taken out of his notoriously frail body. It’s not difficult to think that Wawrinka will be slightly fresher tonight.
With my model pricing this as almost an even money match, both players obviously have very close hold/break stats. Wawrinka has held serve 86.2% on hard court in the last 12 months and breaking opponents 24.2% (combined 110.4%) whilst Nishikori is very similar at 84.4% and 25.8% respectively (combined 110.2%).
Nishikori has a very poor record as a slight favourite in Grand Slams, winning just four of 12 matches in his career priced 1.50-1.99 in Slams.
Conversely, Wawrinka has a strong 7-6 record priced as a marginal underdog (2.00-2.99) and this adds confidence to our selection today.
Indeed, in all of Wawrinka’s seven price range Grand Slam victories, he’s covered at least -2 games in all wins. Furthermore, Nishikori’s price range defeats have cleared this margin, with most considerably bigger.
Bearing this in mind, a bigger handicap margin is also worth a look with all but one of Wawrinka’s historical price range Grand Slam wins coming by at least a five game margin.
Considering the historical trends, if Wawrinka wins tonight, he has a superb chance of winning by a margin of five games or more. This is currently available at 3.15, which represents strong value.
Tennis Handicap Betting Recommendation: Stan Wawrinka -4.5 games at 3.15
Prices correct at time of writing.
Eastbridge Sports Betting Brokerage, now UK licensed.