ATP Finals: Fed Express Not Halted Just Yet6 min read
After 12/5 and 5/6 winners on Monday, Andy Schooler returns to preview the third day’s play at the ATP Finals in London.
Kevin Anderson v Kei Nishikori
To be frank, Tuesday doesn’t look the best betting day at the ATP Finals but it certainly should see some competitive matches.
Nishikori’s win over Roger Federer was good for my each-way outright pick, who is now much shorter than 22/1, but now he needs to build on that and take down a player who didn’t face a break point in his opening victory over Dominic Thiem.
Basic logic would suggest Anderson’s chances of winning here (as a slight underdog) will be aided by a relatively fast court but conditions were similar in Paris just a couple of weeks ago and Nishikori won that day 6-4 6-4, Anderson failing to create a break point. In contrast, on a slower surface in Vienna, it was Anderson who won that day.
It all paints a bit of a murky picture, although what can be said with confidence is that Nishikori’s return game will pose Anderson more problems than Thiem’s did.
If he stays aggressive, as he did during his win over Federer, he can force errors from Anderson from the back of the court. Overall, Nishikori leads the head-to-head 5-3; Anderson was 6-2 up on Thiem.
Nishikori is a tentative pick but odds of 4/6 aren’t mouthwatering.
The same could be said of the 3/5 about the first set having fewer than 10.5 games but it looks a little more appealing.
Only five of the pair’s 19 games have gone beyond that mark, while just one of their eight opening sets has.
I can see Nishikori grabbing an early break and defending it but the bet also allows Anderson to make the fast start and still come good. I won’t be going mad with the stakes though.
Under 10.5 games in first set
Roger Federer v Dominic Thiem
It was far from a good start to the tournament for these two, Federer producing an error-strewn display against Nishikori and Thiem failing to create a break point in defeat to Anderson.
Despite his poor level of play, Federer is still a short favourite to win here – 1/3 to win and 17/20 to do so in straight sets.
He’ll need to improve plenty if that’s to happen and he’s clearly been frustrated by practice in recent days, bemoaning an inability to find a similar court on which to hit. He cancelled his session at Queen’s Club on Monday and while it’s not known if he headed elsewhere, that could suggest other issues.
Thiem does have the game to trouble the Swiss, particularly if Federer is not at his best. He’s one of just a handful of players to hold a winning record over the 20-time Grand Slam champion, leading their head-to-head 2-1. He’s always found a way to break Federer in their matches, and one of his wins came on Federer’s favoured grass.
The Austrian, who does not hold a good record at The O2, has the power to cause problems but is also unlikely to offer as much variety as Nishikori and that could allow Federer to find more of a rhythm and hit himself back into shape.
Judged by what we saw on Sunday – and remember Federer was also shaky at times during his title run in Basel recently – that may be easier said than done.
Still, if we put Federer’s loss down simply to a bad day at the office (it would be speculating to suggest otherwise) you have to think he’ll be too good for Thiem on this court.
Given all the ifs and buts surrounding the match, I don’t want to be backing a short price but 11/4 about a 2-1 Federer win looks tempting.
Thiem can capitalise on any periods of prolonged errors but with Federer fighting to ensure he doesn’t make a group-stage exit for the first time at this venue, I can see him finding a way to turn his form around.
Federer to win 2-1