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Tuesday, 15 January, 2019

Berdych could make legend Federer pull out all the stops

Cilic may again have to dig deep in order to progress

Wimbledon semi-finalist Tomas Berdych
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Federer v Berdych
Roger Federer was superb, as has generally been the case this year, in the first two sets of his Wimbledon quarter-final victory over Milos Raonic, but worryingly for his fans he as good as went to sleep for the majority of set three against the Canadian.

The seven-time champion, who is a 4-11 chance to make it eight grass-court singles championships on Sunday, will probably defeat his pal Tomas Berdych in their semi-final clash at the All England Club but at 1-7 the Swiss is way too short to roll over the Czech.

It would not be a surprise to see this last-four meeting tread a similar path to Federer's win over Raonic, but Berdych is more comfortable on grass than the sixth seed and it may only be the 2010 finalist's notoriously poor big-match temperament that prevents this match from becoming a classic.

To give Berdych his due, he has looked more relaxed on court in the London Grand Slam than is often the case. He is always likely to fold and make life easy for his opponent, but maybe he is toughening up with age.

The 11th seed has tidily despatched a raft of solid performers in Jeremy Chardy, Ryan Harrison, David Ferrer, eighth seed Dominic Thiem and, in the last eight, Novak Djokovic, who retired with an elbow problem when 7-6 2-0 down. It would not be the greatest surprise to see him upend the great man.

The Federer polish is still there, though, and he's adamant he is playing better now than he was last season. But punters should not be frightened by the thought of trying to take on a player who turns 36 next month.

It’s a close choice between backing Berdych at 8-11 with a start of 6.5 games with Coral – most firms afford the Czech a start of 5.5 games – and supporting him to capture at least a set.

Both options could oblige but given how close it was between the friends in their most recent meeting in Miami, it may be wiser to take the outsider, who may be playing as well as he has done at Wimbledon since he reached the final seven years ago, to not be defeated in straight sets.

T Berdych to win at least a set
1pt 10-11 Betfair, Paddy Power

Querrey v Cilic
The early support at the available prices was for Sam Querrey to upset Marin Cilic and perhaps that's not surprising considering the American has always posed a threat to the Croat.

Of course, the early action could also be an instance of the oddsmakers deliberately trying to lay outsider Querrey at inflated prices in the knowledge that he is unlikely to progress any further.

But given that Querrey has always been competitive against Cilic, that would be a risky game to play.

Cilic has won five of their six previous meetings, their last five clashes and all four the duo have contested on grass, but all their matches have been closely fought.

The world number six is playing arguably the best tennis he has ever produced at Wimbledon under coach Jonas Bjorkman, who has tightened up Cilic's game and instilled greater self-belief in his charge, and the man who had to dig deep to dismiss Gilles Muller in the last eight is likely to prove too strong for Californian Querrey over the best of five sets.

However, Querrey merits plenty of respect and looks sure to cause his opponent problems.

The 24th seed is capable of producing incredibly intense bursts of top-quality tennis in matches, but those moments are only sporadic. An example was when he wrested control of the second set of his quarter-final date with Andy Murray, who was very much in the ascendancy at the time.

If Querrey could maintain that top-notch form throughout matches, he would be a huge price to lift the trophy. But unfortun­ately for big Sam, that's not the case.

Querrey is 4-9 to win at least a set, which is likely to happen but also way too short given how well Cilic is playing. But the 8-13 that the match features more than three sets looks a better price and is preferred to backing the favourite to post a straight-sets win.

The feeling is that the layers are wary of 3-0 win for Cilic, but history suggests otherwise and Querrey is playing pretty well himself.

Over 3.5 sets
1pt 8-13 general

It may only be Berdych's notoriously poor big-match temperament that prevents this match from becoming a classic
E.W. Terms
Sky bet