Tennis betting tips: US Open, Friday September 8
1.5pts Carlos Alcaraz to beat Daniil Medvedev 3-0 at 13/8 (bet365, Sky Bet)
1pt Carlos Alcaraz to serve the most aces v Daniil Medvedev at 8/1 (bet365)
1pt over 12.5 games in first set of Ben Shelton v Novak Djokovic at 5/1 (bet365)
Ben Shelton v Novak Djokovic (2000 BST)
US Open semi-final days have lived long in the memory.
Think the old ‘Super Saturdays’ which saw the women’s final sandwiched between the two men’s matches – Stefan Edberg’s five hour 26 minute marathon with Michael Chang stands out.
There was the two Roger Federer v Novak Djokovic contests in which the Serb saved match point and the day in 2014 when first Kei Nishikori stunned Djokovic and then Marin Cilic destroyed Federer.
Those were two huge upsets but this one would been even bigger.
Shelton starts a 10/1 outsider and a quick look at Djokovic’s record in Grand Slam semi-finals – this will be a record 47th for him – shows what the American is up against.
Djokovic has won 25 of his last 27 such matches, with only Nishikori and Dominic Thiem at the 2019 French Open beating him in the past decade at this stage.
The Serb has hit only one bump in the road so far at Flushing Meadows, being taken to five sets by compatriot Laslo Djere in round three. Aside from that, it’s been straight sets all the way. The march towards the meeting with Carlos Alcaraz that everyone expected has been seemingly unstoppable.
If Shelton is to throw a spanner in the works, he surely has to use his big serve to full effect.
With John Isner now retired and Milos Raonic’s body pushing him in the same direction, Shelton is arguably the biggest server on the tour now.
He cranked it up to 149mph earlier this week and while he’s not as consistent at the high speeds yet as Isner, it’s a shot which clearly has the potential to trouble all comers.
Regardless, I’d still expect Djokovic to prevail – his serve numbers at the tournament are actually better on virtually every metric, including service holds and first-serve points won.
But, notably, this will be the first time Djokovic will have had a look at the Shelton delivery so while few would disagree that he’s one of the best returners of all time, even the GOAT might take a while to get a read on it.
That’s the angle I’m pursuing here.
Over 31.5 games is tempting at 10/11 – even a three-set match can land this if Shelton pushes Djokovic into a tie-break. Two and it’s definitely in.
However, I’m looking for a chunkier price given that things could go awry pretty quickly if Djokovic does get dialled in fast. You don’t want that happening to an odds-on shot.
Backing Shelton to win the first set at 4/1 is another way you could potentially approach this but the bet I much prefer, at an even bigger price, is for the FIRST SET TO GO TO A TIE-BREAK.
What I found particularly interesting here was looking at Djokovic’s matches against the other huge servers of his era as they provide a notable pattern.
All three of his matches against Ivo Karlovic featured a first-set tie-break, as did his first two against both Andy Roddick and Raonic. As for Isner, five of his first six went the full 13 games in set one.
That’s some decent evidence that it does take him a while to get a read on bombs coming down at around the 140mph mark.
Maybe I’m wrong bracketing Shelton in with those guys right now but I think he has to come out firing the serves down with pace if he’s to stand any chance.
He’ll know that too and 5/1 about a first-set breaker simply looks too big to me and worth a punt.
Carlos Alcaraz v Daniil Medvedev (2359 BST)
Medvedev seems to have attracted the moniker of ‘hardcourt specialist’.
Fair enough, no-one has won more matches on the surface this season and now he’s back in the US Open semi-finals for the fourth time in five years.
A confident Medvedev also gave himself a 10 out of 10 rating in his quarter-final match but will his specialism be able to deal with the current world number one and defending champion?
Recent history suggests not.
Medvedev was pummelled by the Spaniard in the Wimbledon semi-finals, losing in straight sets and spending most of the match scrambling way beyond the baseline.
Yeah, but that was on grass, I hear you say.
However, it was no different in Indian Wells back in March where Alcaraz won 6-3 6-2 and Medvedev had no answers. It probably isn’t as slow in New York as it was in the Californian desert but it isn’t quick.
Across those two matches, Alcaraz broke serve nine times and lost his own deal just twice.
Looking at the stats from this tournament, the big eyecatcher is that Medvedev has won only 42% of points behind his second serve; Alcaraz is up at 63%.
Alcaraz has the potential to cause real damage when Medvedev misses his first serve (as he has done 40% of the time at this tournament).
He arrives at this match without fatigue – just one set has been dropped so far. The only worry is the presence of some tape on his thigh, although it hasn’t been a problem in the past two rounds.
Medvedev has only lost two sets himself, although he looked to be struggling towards the end of his straight-sets win over Andrey Rublev in the brutally hot and humid conditions on Wednesday.
That could have an effect here and it looks like conditions are again going to be pretty testing on Friday night.
It’s worth remembering Alcaraz had no problems in Cincinnati when Djokovic struggled with similar conditions, whereas Medvedev was complaining two days ago that ‘someone would die’ if players were forced to compete in such weather.
In short, there looks to be lots in Alcaraz’s favour here and another STRAIGHT-SETS WIN win for the 20-year-old looks worth backing at 13/8.
Medvedev will surely have to take up a return position closer to the baseline but he’s clearly had problems with the Alcaraz serve.
I expect the Russian to be pushed onto the defensive and while he’s proved very good at that side of the game, his two matches against Alcaraz this year have seen him unable to turn the tide once the groundstroke assault has begun.
There’s also a bet in the sub-markets which looks worth a punt, namely ALCARAZ TO SERVE THE MOST ACES at a whopping 8/1.
He won this in Indian Wells 1-0, while at Wimbledon it was only a narrow loss – 5-4 in Medvedev’s favour, a result you’d expect on the slicker grass.
As already highlighted, the sluggish court and humid conditions will slow the ball down and so this will become a battle of placement.
Once again, the market appears to have been based on current tournament data (Medvedev has served 0.71 aces per game, Alcaraz 0.29) but the head-to-head matters more, as far as I’m concerned.
It may not win, but there’s no way this should be a 8/1 shot.
Posted at 1040 BST on 08/09/23
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