Tennis and Punting

I have returned to Melbourne after a delightful month Up North, have sat down at the desk for the first time in a while, and contemplated my new resolve.

I’m not going to punt like a T20 player this year with the cavalier approach that says tomorrow’s another day, and cost me last year. I’m going to punt like Bill Lawry: I’m going fight for my punting wicket, punt with my head, and see if I can turn the wagering corner of a fairly non-descript 2011. Good wins (on the AFL especially – go Cats!) were distributed on the winds of the Oaks Day car park and other debacles where it became all too speculative (life included).

My return to the desk coincided with the start of the tennis, a sport which I think gives tremendous value to punters, because matches fluctuate so much. The momentum-shift is the friend of the live investor. It’s not the friend of the punter who has taken the $1.05 on one of the seeds to beat a qualifier. That is the stuff which sends you to the cardiologists section of the Yellow Pages.

Melbourne is alive with the tennis at the moment. On Tuesday my tram was full of people with backpacks, sun-screened to look like commandos, and carrying supplies of water. It was very hot. Today it’s cardies and maybe even a brolly.

This mild weather will suit the hot favourite Novak Djokovic ($2.15 to win the tournament) who has been troubled by the heat before, although seems to handle it better these days. He has become quite the player, dominating in 2011, and set to mature further in the years to come. He’s big, with great reach; he’s powerful, in all of his shot-making; and he has resolve. Rafa hasn’t knocked him over in recent memory.

Indeed Nadal, although looking like good value initially (and still at $7.50), may well struggle. Possibly because I have taken him in the double with Kim Clijsters (on value alone). But also because he is making the comments of a sportsman who doesn’t trust his body. He has also modified his approach to deal with his run of outs, and is looking to find more power for his forehand.

Andy Murray was the runner-up last year. At $6 you’re backing the Scot’s ability to find self-belief on the day. Not only has it eluded him in the past, he has shown the world that it has eluded him. I want to see evidence of more stability before I tip him.

Of the longer-priced players Tomas Berdych ($26) has taken some scalps over the years but his brilliance is fleeting – within individual sets even. Tsonga can be hard to get past when on song (oh dear!) in the way that The Poo was.

Which leaves the second most trustworthy man in the world behind Nelson Mandel: Roger. You have to love him. At $4.50 to win it, he’s not a bad bet. If Bernard Tomic continues his rise, Federer will meet him in the quarter final. Nadal is also on that side of the draw so if things go to script he will meet Rafa in the semi. I’m having a little nibble as Roger.

In the women’s singles Serena remains an imposing figure against the many Europeans. Clijsters is good odds: still $8 now. Li Na is double figures as well. Those of us who only follow the majors may find it difficult to work the form lines out. Wozniacki, although the world’s number one, is well down in the betting. While new star Petra Kvitova must have the respect of at least those who set the prices. Keep safe, I believe is the old form guide term.

I’ll stick with Aussie Kim and hope that Rafa makes my double salute and gets me off to a handy start in 2012.