Federer vs Tsitsipas (Approx 02:00am AEDST)
Here we have a rematch of what turned out to be quite an Australian Open duel. It was only just over a month ago that Tsitsipas was able to make a name for himself (outside of those who are keen tennis observers), defeating Federer in 4 sets in a night match in Melbourne.
That night in Melbourne, Tsitsipas prevailed 6-7 7-6 7-5 7-6. The key difference for the match was certainly break point conversion, with Tsitsipas converting 1 of his 3 opportunities, and Federer converting none of his 12 opportunities. It was a bit of a perfect storm for Federer that night, as I don't feel his body is as suited to best of 5 set tennis anymore.
Why I say it was a bit of a perfect storm, it is more to do with the fact that Federer was unable to convert some early opportunities on the Tsitsipas serve, which built up the level of frustration that night, which resulted in a large amount of nervous energy spent, and as the match wore on, so did the unforced errors from the racquet of Federer. It was uncharacteristic of Federer given his form of the last 12-18 months, however pressure can do funny things to the best players.
As we move to Dubai and the final here, I look at the form of both players coming into the final, as well as the accumulated fatigue from Tsitsipas (noting his full week last week on indoor hard). I think if there is ever a chance for Federer to exact revenge on Tsitsipas, this may well be the opportunity, in what is also quite a big match.
After shaking off some rust in the early rounds against Kohlschreiber and Verdasco, Federer slowly built his form up over the course of the week, culminating in a 6-2 6-2 whitewash of Borna Coric overnight. It was exactly what Federer needed, especially when you consider Tsitsipas had just spent 3 hours on court with Monfils, ending in a third set tiebreak.
Federer is normally one who will learn from his prior mistakes, but is also a player who will be able to pick up some pointers from other recent opponents of Tsitsipas, such as Monfils. Look for Federer to keep the ball short and low onto the backhand of Tsitsipas, which will more often than not lead to a slice for Stefanos. This play should see Federer approach the net more comofrtably, in conditions I think suit him tonight.
I am happy to make a 4 unit selection on Federer to cover the -2.5 game handicap.
4 units Federer -2.5 game handicap at $1.84 at Topsport