If we try (very hard) to forget about my selections for a moment, I think Day 8 at the Open delivered some special tennis. What made for a poor day of selections on my side, was the fact that the grossly overrated Scot, Andy Murray, was knocked out of the men's singles championship by the No. 15 seed, Fernando Verdasco.
In a surprise move by the books on the eve of the Australian Open, Murray was the bookies’ favorite to take the crown at the Oz Open ahead of Roger Federer. However, the Brits will now have to await the French Open hoping their 73-year drought in the slams will come to an end there.
I think Tim Henman has a better chance at winning Roland Garros in ‘09 than Murray, but I wish them luck.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC (-240) – ANDY RODDICK (+220)
Definitely not my favorites out there, but we have to give credit to these blokes. The Djoker has been playing like the defending champion he is and Roddick has played some great tennis to get here.
After some sub-par performances in Brisbane and Sydney in the lead up to the Australian Open, Djokovic has cranked it up a notch and is showing Rafa, Fedex, and the rest of the tennis fans he truly deserves his ranking and his status as a reigning champion here.
What impressed me about Djokovic is the fact that like most great players, he finds that extra gear when he needs to. He played his best tennis in the fourth and deciding set in his last match against a scrappy Marcos Baghdatis, who just wouldn’t go away despite trailing 2-0 after two sets.
Roddick has had a smooth ride to here but the competition is about to get steeper. The way I see men's tennis at the moment, we have the top four players: Rafa, Roger, Djokovic and Murray. There is a huge gap between them and the rest of the field, including A-Rod.
Roddick doesn't stand a chance against Djokovic as he goes down in straight sets. Take Djokovc to win first set at a decent price here at around (-180).
Pick: DJOKOVIC to win first set (if you can't get that option take Djokovic for the match as big as you can afford to lose)
MARIAN BARTOLI (+240) – VERA ZVONAREVA (-270)
This should be a great quarterfinal clash between these two girls. The Russian holds a healthy 6-1 lead in their head to head record and Bartoli hasn't forgotten the drubbing she received from Zvonareva last year in Austria.
"The last time I played her, I lost 6-0, 6-1, so I hope to do better this time," she told the Australian crowd after her win over Jankovic at Rod Laver Arena last round.
The Frenchwoman has played some great tennis so far and came back from the dead in her third round match against Safarova after being a set and a break down. She backed up that great win in the fourth round by demolishing the No. 1 seed in straight sets.
Bartoli is running into a red hot Zvonareva, who is yet to drop a set here at the Open, whether in singles or in doubles with her partner Victoria Azarenka. However, I really believe that Bartoli won't go away quietly without chucking a fuss against the Russian. I believe Zvonareva has way too much power for Bartoli and at the end of the day she will make the semis to set up a clash with Marat's little sister.
Bartoli should be able to take a set out of Vera. There are two betting options here: one is whether it will be a two or a three-setter if your book offers those odds. The other is to take the over/under in games.
Pick: Match to go three sets or take over 27 games