Marcello Cossali-Francis (@marchCF96) looks ahead to Friday’s men’s US Open semi-final matches between Rafael Nadal v Juan Martin Del Potro and Novak Djokovic v Kei Nishikori and provides us with his best bets.
US Open 2018: Men’s Semi-Finals Betting Preview & Tips
Friday evening sees the US Open men's semi-finals take place as Rafael Nadal faces Juan Martin Del Potro while Novak Djokovic is up against Kei Nishikori. So what are the best betting angles?
Rafael Nadal v Juan Martin Del Potro
The first semi-final in the men’s draw at this year’s US Open throws two of the games greatest competitors together, as world number 1, Rafael Nadal, takes on the world number 3, Juan Martin Del Potro. This has all the makings of being a classic, with two men who just seem to thrive most when their backs are against the wall. Nadal has had a tough campaign so far, none more so than his quarter-final match against Dominic Thiem, which lasted almost five hours and did not finish till 2 AM local time. He has been taken past three sets in all but two of his five rounds so far but has shown a great deal of resilience to get to this stage and is a player you can never rule out, no matter the circumstances. As for his opponent on Friday, the exact same can be said about him. Del Potro is another of the sport’s ‘never say die’ characters who never knows when he is beaten and is a player who is playing some of his best tennis of his career and always provides a stern test to Nadal. He has spent less time on court than Rafa this tournament, winning four of his five matches in straight-sets and
With both players playing their best tennis, this does look like a match that could go all the way to five sets. The head-to-head is in Nadal’s favour, with the Spaniard winning 11 of their 16 matches and Del Potro has beaten Nadal just once in a major. Nadal is the favourite for the win at 13/18 but that would not be a bet to go for here and looking at the total games market seems the way to go in this one. Over 41.5 games is available at just over the even money mark at 42/41 with 188Bet and that looks the best value given that same bet has landed in all of Nadal’s last three matches at this year’s tournament and in the most recent match between these two, in the Wimbledon quarter-final, also resulted. The Argentinian is certainly capable of beating Rafa here, having done so back in 2009 when he won the whole thing, and you can bet on a long match but Rafa will just have the edge overall.
Novak Djokovic v Kei Nishikori
Again, this is another very interesting looking semi-final with both players coming through their quarter-final matches in different circumstances. Djokovic comfortably dispatched of Roger Federer’s conqueror, John Millman, in straight sets, whilst Nishikori overcame Marin Cilic in a five-set thriller over four hours.
Nishikori’s match with Cilic was a strange one, in which the man who made the least amount of errors. Cilic managed 70 unforced errors, compared to Nishikori’s 49 and that was the telling statistic. The Japanese player, who has only ever reached one Grand Slam final, won less games and less points than Cilic in that match, whilst his win percentage on first and second serve was also less than the Croatian’s. Djokovic is one player who you cannot make that many errors against and the service of Nishikori must be improved if he is to reach his second ever final at this tournament.
Djokovic has impressed throughout this competition, dropping just one set so far and in general, has had a strong season. He won Wimbledon in July and is currently on an 11-match winning run, so there is no doubt about the form of the 13-time Grand Slam champion. The head-to-head between these two is also very much in the Serbian’s favour, with Novak leading it 14-2 and winning the last 12. They last met at Wimbledon in July, where Djokovic won in four sets and I think it could be a similar match here.
Nishikori is known for his warrior-like mentality and he is another of those players who never knows when he is done. He will play from the baseline and look to make winners from there, but Novak is the sort of player who can move his opponent around the court and he will look to do that here. Nishikori has to lower the error count and improve his serve percentage to be in with a shout but even then, Djokovic, especially with the head-to-head, will know how to beat him.
Looking at the betting side, I think we can back Djokovic here in the set betting, with a 3-1 score priced at 11/4, which looks good value. Djokovic has the tendency to have a sloppy set sometimes and his frustrations can often get the better of him for small periods, which you would think Nishikori can take advantage of. Novak has also won three of his five first sets with a 6-3 score line and given Nishikori was on court for four hours the other night, I fancy Djokovic to start better and take this set by the same score. You can find either player to win the opening set 6-3 with William Hill at 27/10, which gives us that lifeline if Nishikori does shock from the start.