Tuesday, 30 June 2009

June. God, that went quick.

So June ends as it started, in the second week of a Grand Slam, meaning a quiet week so far. My month has been dominated by Tennis , and is split into two halves. I had a red second week to the French Open, and at mid-month hovered around zero. A decent run in the second batch of grasscourt warm-up events and a steady first week of Wimbledon brought me back to an acceptable monthly total.

I’ve enjoyed Wimbledon, although it’s been frustrating to follow most of the action via Flashscore on my I-phone. I suppose Murray / Federer and Williams / Williams finals would be predictable, but watching the world’s best clash should make for a great spectacle over the weekend. Tomorrow, I’ll predict wins for Federer, Murray, Djokovic and Roddick. Original, eh? However, my money’s staying firmly in my pocket.

So I’m working steadily towards my target bank ? Well, no. I actually removed slightly more from my account than I made in the month. Haven’t quite made my expenditure match my limited income recently, so earlier than intended I’m creating a steady second income stream. So I suppose I’ll try to win slightly more than I withdraw in the coming months, nudging my bank higher in the process.

I’m looking forward to the start of the American tennis season, with play aligned to my time at home on the laptop. A few low key events in July, before the big stuff kicks in during August. So let’s aim for a third consecutive steady month, and then make hay in August!

Monday, 29 June 2009

Turning a Supertanker

My first losing day for a while, brought upon by a cautious all-red trade taken on Andy Murray when Wawrinka’s excellent backhand started to cause a few problems, and a back of Caroline Wozniaki earlier in the day.

I followed the Safina / Mauresmo game in early evening, and came across a frustrating example of how difficult it is for an instinctive odds-on backer to change his spots. As I have noted on more than one occasion, I believe that the most successful tennis trading technique is to lay at short prices on a variety of ( usually female ) players with flaky temperament, who so often find it difficult to close out games. Despite this, most of my transactions are on favourites pre-match and odds-on trades in play at a point I am confident the player in the driving seat will close out. This no doubt stems from all my early successes being odds-on, and plenty of continuing success backing favourites in the early rounds of ATP and WTA tournaments throughout the year.

Mauresmo ( a known flake ) was a break up in the final set. I had backed Safina pre-match, and as I monitored the odds, I was looking for opportunities to reduce my potential loss. As I looked at the 1.27 on Mauresmo, I instinctively determined that the odds offered no value for trading out my risk. I sat on my hands. Only after 30 seconds or so did it occur to me that I was looking at a fantastic lay opportunity. Before I could play my lay, 0-15 gave 1.38. I piled in at 1.38, too late, missed the trade. 0-30, 1.55. I tried again, missed the trade again, Mauresmo went 0-40, chance gone. So a £4 win that could have easily been £40.

My £2 on Petrova sailed down the river at the hands of Victoria Azarenka. I’ve still not seen Azarenka in action this week, but the current odds suggest she may be a genuine outside bet.
I considered a back of Venus tomorrow, but at 1.14, there’s no worthwhile profit at the sort of stake I’m currently prepared to risk.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Wimbledon Week 1, and the obligatory Michael Jackson comment.

Week 1 over, and only a few drops of rain. Probably not the most scintillating week’s tennis, but a few names have shone brighter than others ( Federer, Murray, Williams S, Williams V ).

The heavyweight stuff starts on Monday. In the Men’s, that dream Swiss / Scottish final still looks on – certainly the Betfair market thinks so – Mr F at 1.72, Andy at 4.00, Djokovic at 16.5. I remain concerned that the spoiler in the draw (Karlovic) is still around. Listening to 5 live on Friday afternoon, it seemed Tsonga had become a knotted ball of frustration caused by the futility of attempts at returning service. I appreciate Karlovic’s limitations, and that the serve diminishes in the later sets of longer Grand Slam matches, but if he was to hammer down say 55 aces in the first three sets, just three loose points in a match could cost someone, even Federer, a 7-6,7-6, 7-6 defeat. Be scared – entertaining it ain’t.

The Women’s Betfair market has a similar look – Serena at 2.80, Venus at 3.50, Azarenka at 9.60, Safina at 15.00. I’m siding with Venus, although my cash (£2) is on Petrova at 190.00! I’ve not seen much TV action this week, but Azarenka must have been fairly impressive to be half the odds of Safina at this stage.

My morning bets gave me a P&L of (£1.70). 4 wins, 1 loss ( Kuznetsova ).

This reminded me of the discussion I often have with people when trying to explain Betfair gambling / trading in the simplest terms. The point I attempt to get across is that the simple ‘back and hope’ system millions employ at the bookies is as futile and costly as everyone assumes. And alternately, proper use of Betfair is a sensible and potentially lucrative pastime.

I use this hopefully straightforward example to illustrate my argument –

At the betting shop, I have 10 bets of £50 at odds of 1/10. 9 win, giving me a profit of £45. One loses, my overall loss is £5. In practice, the probability is closer to 8 wins, 2 losses. I therefore lose £60.

On Betfair, those same bets are at odds of 1/9. 8 win. On the other two, I trade out to lose £15 on each rather than the full amount. 8 x £5.55 = £44. 2 x (£15.00) = (£30). I therefore win £14.

I know it’s simplistic. But it flicks on a few lightbulbs.

I’ve never been a fan of Michael Jacksons’ music. If you twist my arm, I will admit to an appreciation of ‘Man In The Mirror’ and ‘Black Or White’. I have however probably got a more sympathetic attitude towards the man than many. I get the feeling that his bizarre upbringing made him more trusting of children than adults, as well as being completely unaware of the values and accepted behaviours required in ‘normal’ society. This unfortunate combination no doubt led to the ridiculous and entangled situations he managed to put himself in.

He was undoubtedly one of the most famous men on the planet. This makes his weaknesses and indiscretions open to scrutiny by our great daily newspaper editors and proprietors. I am very pleased that I have lived my life away from the claws of these parasites. Would anyone’s life be any less fulfilled if an atomic bomb was dropped on the offices of the Daily Mail et al? Wishful thinking….

I actually saw Jackson in concert, at Roundhay Park Leeds in August 1988 ( I checked the date! ). My only real memories are :

· there were over 60,000 people in attendance, and circa 59,000 of them seemed to be in front of me, and
· he seemed very far away, even when I was looking at the video screens half way back in the arena.
· The 59,000 seemed to enjoy themselves.

No doubt he will return to being an idol rather than villain in death.

A Matter Of Taste

This unfortunate gentleman is Newcastle United defender Stephen Taylor, modelling the club's new 'two-tone yellow' away strip. Umm.

Club owner Mike Ashley made his money selling discounted sportswear. This kit may be cluttering up bargain bins for a while to come.

A Mini Post

Just a couple of lines, as Mrs B is forcing me to have a day's shopping in Birmingham

Today's modest Wimbledon bets are :

Kuznetsova ( going against Scott's advice on this one. Gulp ).
Murray ( A loss on this will shred my week's profit, but hoping to be home in time if it starts to go wrong! ).

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Wimbledon Day 4

Another day, another dumb tennis publicity picture. Trust me, there’s plenty available. This was Murray and Venus supposedly playing on car roofs in Miami this year.

Again, one big result today – Hewitt’s straight set win over Del Potro ( more on that below ). Good performances in the Men’s for Berdych, Gonzalez and Melzer, and Murray did no damage to his credentials as the likely finalist. His next opponent, Troiki, beat the clay-courter Gimeno-Traver in five sets, don’t see a shock in round 3.

In the women’s draw, I’m sure Stosur and Radwanska opened up plenty of trading opportunities today with 3 set wins. All the big guns came through. I like the look of the Stosur v Ivanovic game in round 3, although I think it will be round four before the real fireworks start.

Another decent day for me, helped along on two counts by reading Scott Ferguson’s post this morning. Having backed Del Potro at 1.43 last night, in the knowledge I’d be unlikely to have an opportunity to trade out, Scott bigged up Hewitt this morning. I noticed that the odds had moved in my favour, so greened up for a couple of quid. Result. Scott also noted Pablo Cuevas’ plus points, which made me wary of entering the market in his game against Jesse Levine, who led by 2 sets before the match ended in Levine’s favour in the fifth. I finally picked a good moment, and brought in a modest profit. So the Wimbledon P&L now sits around £150.

A day off tomorrow, with a family funeral in Yorkshire followed by a drive back, hopefully in time, for an open air Paul Weller concert at Cannock Chase, one of a series of concerts the Forestry Commission puts on each summer. I’ve seen Embrace and The Feeling in previous years, and it’s a great setting for a gig.

I’ll stay away from backing anyone, although I’m very keen on Petrova, Soderling and Tsonga. I also think Razzano, Djokovic and Haas look a little short.

Wimbledon Day 3

Just to continue my series of tennis players looking ridiculous….

I suppose Sharapova’s defeat was the day’s headline. Pity it blew away a potential third round clash with Petrova, I was looking forward to that one. Azarenka rather demolished my suggestion that she was priced too short with a double bagel against the unfortunate Romanian, Olaru. Not too many other surprises in the women’s draw today, the bottom half of the third round is looking quite interesting, although I’d be surprised if it didn’t end with a Dementieva / Serena semi.

In the men’s event, nothing happened today that would worry Federer about his half of the draw. Again, I’m drawn to a couple of good third round clashes – Djokovic v Fish, and Karlovic v Tsonga. I also fancy Robin Soderling’s chances after Nicolas Almagro had another five set win in hot conditions.

Michael Llodra’s tournament came to an unfortunate and painful end, see his accident here - http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/8117785.stm ( plus some ‘hilarious’ Haas v ballboy tennis ). Taylor Dent went down in five sets after trading at 1.16 pre-match, and Tommy Robredo threatened to do the same.

Quieter day for my betting today. Contrary to my idea that an earlier work finish would give me more trading opportunities, I couldn’t find many games of interest upon my return. Made a little on Andreev and Soderling to go with my overnight bet on Djokovic, but I seem to be very wary of the women’s games at the moment, and I’ve also noticed that watching tennis on the TV is of no help to me whatsoever. Many traders prefer to concentrate on televised games, but I suppose I’m more used to concentrating on a scoreboard and Betfair screen.

Pleased with the steady week so far. If I can pick off a couple of in-play opportunities tomorrow evening, I’ll be well set to use any time I have over the weekend to move the week from ‘steady’ to ‘profitable’ ( I’m away on Friday ).

I’ll only be putting one bet in place during the day – Del Potro @ 1.43. It’s not difficult to find winners ( Hanescu, Lisicki, Stosur, Simon and Wozniaki all stand out ), but the odds are prohibitive. I think Baltacha has a good chance, but won’t be putting my hard-earned money on it.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Wimbledon Day 2

So there were six British losers today ( see post – Day 1 ). Fortunately, I can’t count, so Elena Baltacha joined Murray in round 2, and Alona Bondarenko continued to cement her place as a trader’s dream. However, having watched the latter stages of the match on the BBC (red button), I thought the Brit played rather well.

Thoughts of the day –

i. The men’s draw went generally to plan. I suppose the biggest surprise was Youzhny, a renowned fighter, losing in three sets to Juan-Carlos Ferrero.

ii. Whilst most of last week’s successes have struggled, Benny Becker sailed through in straight sets, losing nine games. Expect the tiredness to kick in soon!

iii. A low key end at Marat Safin’s Wimbledon career out on Court 18. A pity to lose one of the games’ great characters – there aren’t too many around.

iv. I’m sure there must have been a few nerves in punting circles when Kimiko Date took the first set off Caroline Wozniaki, who’s been hyped up by many over the last couple of days. P.S. - Date’s first Wimbledon appearance ended in defeat to Zena Garrison. The year? 1989!

v. What on earth has happened to Nicole Vaidisova? She couldn’t have hand-picked a much more favourable first round opponent.

vi. Just when we thought we had a consistent British woman! Keothavong somehow managed to lose to Patricia Mayr, career record on grass before today, 0-1.

Won on all today’s bets. Yeah! Czink actually lost to Mauresmo, but I’d arrived home in time to green up at 6-1, 2-5. With a couple of hours trading this evening, day 2 gave me a £59.45 profit. Steady and, er, unspectacular!

I kept an eye on my selections using my I-phone thoughout the day. The Hanescu / Navarro game turned into a long five-setter, ending at 12-10 in the fifth. You have to admire Navarro. Ten sets last week in s’Hertogenbosch, sixty-seven games today. Tough guy. My score-checker of choice – Flashscore.com – doesn’t show fifth set scores after 6-6 (!?), so switched to Livescore.com to follow the climax. Noticed that Livescore had Agnieszka Radwanska due to play Mary Jo Fernandez. I was about to ring Betfair to put my bank on the 14th ranked Pole against a 37 year old American mother of two who retired nine years ago. Sadly, I found she was actually playing Maria-Jose Martinez Sanchez, so left my bank intact.

I work nearer to home for the latter part of each week, so should have time for a reasonable in-play trading session. Therefore I’ll probably only have a bet on Djokovic from the lunchtime matches. There seems to be more opportunities for trading than backing in most of the early games. Azarenka, Sugiyama and Robredo look a little short to me.

I’m missing Glastonbury (again) this year. We did agree on our six festivals for the year long ago, but I’m now getting itchy feet as the weekend approaches. Suppose I’ll see plenty of Wimbledon instead. Hmm.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Wimbledon Day One.

A dry first day ( always a priority ). Saw a little of Djokovic this evening between arriving home and going out to the pub for Mrs B’s birthday. Can’t say he gave the impression of a potential champion. The last player I saw doing that much headshaking was the diabolical Ms T. Poutchek at Edgbaston. A bit pissed off with Julien Benneteau – couldn’t he have performed like that when he had my £40 on him against a bleedin’ Argentinian grasscourt novice at Eastbourne last week?
Interesting points of the day –

i. Federer still managed to play ok, despite concentrating on showing off his new Nike kit.

ii. James Blake being done over in straight sets by Seppi – didn’t see that one coming.

iii. So much for warm-up event success – Dancevic, Tanasugarn and Wickmayer all fell in straight sets after reaching finals last week. A lay of Becker at 1.3 tomorrow anyone? Tursunov at 1.4? Possibly the extra day may help them.

iv. No surprise that the Almagro / Monaco match went to 5 sets in 4 hours – two good baseliners slugging it out.

v. Glad to see Daniel Koellerer go out in 5 sets after winning the first two. Ha! (See Scott’s post here ).

vi. Petrova v Sharapova in round three is looking tasty.

vii. Plenty of plucky Brit defeats today, there will probably be six more tomorrow. Let’s hope there aren’t seven!

My 100% tipping record is shattered! Sprem was always a coin toss game, but my emphasis on grasscourt form did for me with Rybarikova ( and Wickmayer ). Wimbledon is friendlier than the other grasscourt events for the baseliners, and Vinci and Vesnina are decent players. So scraped, to use my local dialect, ‘tuppence’ from my day 1 bets ( or ‘bugger all’ to non-northerners ). Had an hour or so of trading this evening, so am currently +£30.52 for the tournament. I should stop now, that’s my most successful Wimbledon ever! Doh.

Day two then, same two batches as last night.

My bets

Tommy Haas @ 1.14
Victor Hanescu @ 1.75
Paul-Henri Mathieu @ 1.42 ( holding breath! )
Radek Stepanek @ 1.38
Kateryna Bondarenko @ 1.50
Melinda Czink @ 4.30

Other Tips

Michael Llodra @ 1.36
Anne Keothavong @ 1.24
Robby Ginepri @ 7.80

Oh, and if you’re going to Wimbledon, avoid Pablo Andujar v Martin Vassallo-Arguello. Yawn.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

SW19 Time.

Another uneventful week’s betting, although I finally managed to push my June profit forward, with a high success rate in my limited tennis trading topped up by a few sundry trades I stumbled upon in cricket and rugby. Football was a let down (again), my successes being offset by two losing bets on Egypt – how can a team beat Italy and then get stuffed by the USA?

As I noted in my last post, my Wimbledon wagers will be limited by my late arrival home from work each night. So here are my selections for Monday, split into two batches – those I’m backing (moderately) in the knowledge that I’m unable to trade out, and others I’d be placing if I was able to trade, but will have to leave alone.

My bets

Karolina Sprem @ 2.04
Philip Kohlschreiber @ 1.26
Dudi Sela @ 1.53
Magdalena Rybarikova @ 1.53
Steve Darcis @ 2.53

Other Tips

Gisela Dulko @ 1.36
Marc Gicquel @ 1.50
Ivo Karlovic @ 1.14
Michael Llodra @ 1.16
Yanina Wickmayer @ 1.38
Timea Bacsinsky @ 2.18

I’m not expecting to make a bundle from pre-match bets but, rather like having a flutter at the races, it’s just a way of adding interest to Wimbledon for me.

It’s always’s worth watching Harry Findlay on the TV. Saw him being interviewed by Clare Balding yesterday at Ascot before his part-owned High Standing won the Wokingham Stakes. Clare mentioned that Rafa was out of Wimbledon, to which Harry retorted ‘I’d have opposed him anyway, just hope Federer beats Murray, so that I can get good odds on Murray for the US Open’. Clare recoiled in shock at the lack of patriotic support. ‘Follow the cash!’ quipped Harry. Top man.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

The Grasscourt Month

As we approach Wimbledon, I’ve been trying to sort through the last fortnight’s warm-up tournaments for any clues. The most valid of these events are those at Queen’s Club ( Men ) and Eastbourne ( Women ).

Andy Murray just confirmed at Queen’s what we’ve all worked out over the last couple of years – he is a world class player who simply has to win a grand slam to be seen as Britain’s finest ever. The three main Americans – Roddick, Blake and Fish – will all be competitive , as will Karlovic. My eye was also drawn to a man with grass court pedigree – Nicholas Mahut – who got a couple a wins under his belt before losing to Karlovic. Whilst everyone has Federer pencilled in for the semis, his quarter does include some real dangers on grass – Tsonga, Mahut, Karlovic, Soderling and Kohlschreiber. Finally, the woeful display of Eduardo Schwank suggests Wawrinka might be worth backing on Tuesday, even at 1.07.

The Eastbourne men’s tournament brought forward a couple of names seen regularly at Wimbledon – Dmitri Tursunov ( the winner ) and Janko Tipsarevic ( got a couple of games under his belt ), but little that will worry the higher seeds. Frank Dancevic made the final after coming through qualifying, so may be worth opposing in his Wimbledon opener due to likely tiredness.

Halle proved little, apart from that Tommy Haas, who could have wrecked his season by the manner of his defeat to Federer in Paris, bounced back superbly to win the title, and that grass may bring a halt to Fernando Verdasco’s charge up the rankings.

s’Hertogenbosch was just a poor tournament. It ended with a final between two limited bangers – Benny Becker beating the local, Raemon Sluiter (ranked 866 after missing a year), but will no doubt be remembered more for the dodgy betting patterns in the Hernandez / Koellerer ‘contest’. I feel a little sorry for Oscar Hernandez. His name becomes associated with match-fixing, but he can only play what’s put in front of him. How Ferrer managed to lose to Ivan Navarro ( spanish translation of Navarro – ‘journeyman’ ) is beyond me – lost £20 on that. Another couple of names worth opposing at SW19 stood out – Florent Serra and Daniel Gimeno-Traver.

The women’s event at Eastbourne saw early carnage amongst the seeds, leaving Caroline Wozniaki to continue her rise towards the top of the game, after an impressive run defeating a host of competitive players through the tournament – Kleybanova, Stosur, Makarova and Wosniak – although she struggled to see off Razzano in the final and seemed to be vulnerable when leading. The Serbians, Jankovic and Ivanovic, are still struggling for form, so it’s a little tough at the moment to look past the Williams sisters and Safina for Wimbledon (not that I’d completely discount Sharapova).

The other tournaments at Edgbaston and s’Hertogenbosch saw wins for two ladies capable of causing problems to higher ranked players on grass – Magdelena Rybarikova and Tamarine Tanasugarn. The finalist in Holland, Yanina Wickmayer, reached the final at Edgbaston last year and is also obviously comfortable on this surface. Three others made an impression – Aleksandria Wozniak, Francesca Schiavone and Melinda Czink. Sadly, Wozniak and Schiavone meet in the first round, but I’ll certainly be on Melinda Czink to take out Mauresmo in her opener at 3.0+.

Wimbledon will be frustrating for me, missing most of each day due to work, but I’ll have a look for a few to back with enough confidence to leave open. I may even post my selections – that’ll blow my 100% tipping record on the blog!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

A Quiet Return

Back on the laptop after my break, but struggled to find much of interest, with only the remnants of the tennis fixture list and one U21 game available by the time I arrived home this evening. I backed South Africa in the 20/20 at 1.1 to pick up a few quid, but then threw away my profit experimenting with a couple of horse racing lays. I’m not exactly back in the zone yet!

I’m gutted I didn’t back Rocket Rob in the 9.00 at Yarmouth, though I did lay The Scorching Wind, but then my next lay (Valbuena) won in the 9.15 at Newton Abbot. I may as well have sent a tenner to charity. I’ll try to arrive home earlier tomorrow and take things a little more seriously.

I’ll admit to being poor at record-keeping. I tend to have an idea in my head of what is working for me, and then review my P&L on a weekly or monthly basis to confirm whether my ideas match reality. The time spent this evening checking my current position turned up a major surprise. Since switching to ‘small-stakes’ part-time betting in March, I have placed 32 bets on cricket, and have a 32-0 record! I’ve made more on cricket than soccer. HTF did that happen?
Cricket has been a disaster for me over the past few years. So what’s changed? A lot of my early bets were done when chasing losses – I think the 2 team win or lose scenario of the sport made it an easy area to throw money at when in the ‘panic recovery mode’ most inexperienced gamblers go through on a regular basis. My results also mirrored the usual results of a panic recovery mentality.

My recent attempts have tended to be peripheral to my main soccer and tennis trades, but done when opportunities present themselves – my old ‘wait for the opportunities to come to you’ mantra. Most are small wagers where a loss would just result in a shrug of the shoulders, and the results show a bizarre change of fortune. I’m happy to let it remain peripheral for the time being.

During the drive up the A34 and M40 yesterday, I listened to the England v West Indies game on 5 live. I thought Paul Collingwood was very reserved in his analysis of the game, suggesting that the better side won. The overall impression I gained was that the Duckworth-Lewis system doesn’t seem to work well in such short contests. The West Indians were struggling badly during their innings, then hit two sixes in successive balls, and the remainder of the target was a cake-walk. For a couple of hits to make such a difference seems wrong. If 80 from 9 overs is to be seen as equal to 161 in 20, I would have thought the chasing team should have only had 7 wickets available. Just a thought.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

The Festival Season

To many, the festival season reaches a crescendo at Cheltenham in March, and ends at Punchestown in April.

My own (music) festival season is a six-part summer adventure starting tomorrow evening on the Isle of Wight, finishing in a park in Moseley, Birmingham in September, and taking in stops in Kinross (Scotland), Cambridge, Weston Park (Staffordshire) and Leeds.

Festival weekends and Christmas Day are the only times in the year when I’m guaranteed not to be checking out Betfair for opportunities. The laptop will be firmly locked away this evening and stay asleep until next Tuesday. I often don’t even check the sports news throughout the weekend. It’s a nice chance to clear my head of sport for a few days – it’s surprising how often I’m thinking about sport and betting, even when I’m away from the laptop.

I’ve been back on the festival scene for the last 5 or so years. I was a regular at the Reading Festival and a few other events during the eighties, but became a little tired of the crap facilities and being a human target for, er, fluid-filled plastic cider bottles throughout the weekend. I finally gave up after the infamously abysmal 1988 Reading Festival, headlined by Starship and Bonnie Tyler! I was enticed back by a top quality line-up put together for the 2004 V Festival, and found the 21st century festival to be a much nicer experience than I remembered from my teens and twenties.

The Isle of Wight festival is an enjoyable start to the summer. After a ferry from Southampton to East Cowes, we’ll be staying in the same Shanklin apartment as in previous years, and using the IOW’s excellent bus service to travel to the site in Newport. I’ve seen most of this year’s major acts before, but will be looking forward to hearing The Pixies and Stereophonics again, plus a music legend I’ve never seen before – Neil Young.

I’ll be back on Betfair next Tuesday, attempting to make something from June, which is currently hovering around the zero mark, mainly due to my opinions on tennis players getting in the way of a consistent staking plan.

If there are any believers out there, please pray for good weather in the coming days.

Oh, and I’ve stuck a good festival memory on my music player.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

A Summer Day Out

Just back from a day out at the newly renamed ‘Aegon Classic’ WTA event at the Priory Club in Edgbaston, Birmingham. I’ve been for the past few years, it’s a friendly and informal tournament well worth the £15.00 ticket.

I left home this morning with low expectations – a dismal weather forecast and the worst order of play line-up I’ve had at Edgbaston – tomorrow’s a much stronger day. But managed to get (nearly) a full day’s tennis – rain stopped play around 5.00pm, and I saw a couple of decent games.

I placed four modest bets before I set out to give a little extra interest , backing Sania Mirza, Melinda Czink, Alla Kudryatseva and Maria-Elena Camerin. Two wins, two suspended whilst ahead. I also backed Steve Darcis and Nicholas Kiefer elsewhere (both won), so the tickets and the Pizza Hut tea on the way home were both paid for.

Started the day watching Sania Mirza play Tatiana Poutchek on the show court. Poor fayre, Poutchek is having a car crash of a season and had the expression of a loser throughout the contest. Mirza missed most of last season with injury and looked below her best, struggling with her serve and often tentative. I saw a little of Anne Keothavong in the following match, and I would be surprised if she doesn’t beat Mirza tomorrow ( check my ‘Camille Pin’ post before parting with any cash on my tips ).

I then spent a little time watching the outer courts. Random thoughts :–

· Carly Gullickson is a stone heavier than a professional full-time athlete should be,
· Melinda Czink looks a good player,
· Petra Cetkovska made very hard work of beating the barely-moderate Stephanie Foretz,
· Yulia Fedossova was beaten in 3 sets, but she certainly gives the ball a whack.

Finished the day watching Alla Kudryatseva play the British number 9, world-ranked 365 Naomi Broady. The Brit is 19 years of age, 6’2”, and was playing her first WTA tour match. And she gave Kudryatseva a fright, taking the first set, leading 5-3 in the second, and then 3-1 in the third. Sadly, the nerves took hold at the vital moments, and I’d expect the Russian to win from 5-7, 7-6, 5-4 when the match resumes tomorrow. Broady may be worth monitoring, she has a huge serve which could give some higher-ranked ladies a few problems.

I caught a glimpse of Miss Sharapova on the practice courts. She should win the tournament again – it’s a weaker line-up than in previous years, and I can only see Schiavone or Tanasugarn giving her a contest on her way to the final.

And the Pepperoni Feast was dead good.

Monday, 8 June 2009

A Day For Champions

The day must belong to Mr Federer. There now seems to be a general consensus amongst tennis pundits that Roger can be regarded as the finest tennis player of all time. Much attention has been concentrated on him becoming the sixth man to win all four grand slams. I would suggest that his total of fourteen slams in all may be a greater achievement when looked back upon in future decades.

I was ready to write an obituary marking the end of Federer's greatness during his match against Tommy Haas earlier in the week. One of the effects of such dominance in a sport is that opponents are intimidated by reputation, and underperform when pitted against the top player. I was convinced that Haas, having played Federer nine times, and lost on the previous seven occasions, would not have the mental strength to overcome Federer. A loss for the Swiss master would therefore be evidence that the shroud of invincibility had finally been torn away. It was a close call, but six days later his reputation is further enhanced and Wimbledon may give an opportunity for slam number fifteen.

There are mutterings regarding the condition of Rafa's knees at present, and he will have to come into Wimbledon without a warm-up event after pulling out of Queen's. I'm sure that there is further greatness to come from Nadal, but I believe that those knee problems will ensure that he never endangers Roger's 14 slam total.

On a day where the 'Greatest Of All Time' label is being discussed, it seems fitting that the day ended with victories for two probable candidates for such a title, and certainly two men with the ability to intimidate by reputation alone - Tiger Woods and Phil Taylor.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Three Words

Or, er, maybe four -

Del Potro.

Guess where my money was today?

My Gonzalez money had long gone by the time I arrived home - no complaints, I knew the rules when I had a punt. I'm actually glad I wasn't able to play in-running, I'd probably have been on the red side of the trading. But felt a bit aggrieved when the odds went away from me on the other two matches. Went all red on both - three bets, three reds, week in tatters.

Oh well, it was never going to be a great week. Positive note - I feel no urge to chase a recovery.

Time to plod on regardless.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

It's Oh So Quiet

..…. for a part-time Betfair player with no interest in horse racing, anyway. The second week of a grand slam is about as quiet a time for tennis betting as we get during the 10 month season.

I’m having to find new things to do with my evenings –
· Talk to my wife.
· Venture outside into the sunlight.
· Explore the 8000 channels available on Freeview. You can find an episode of CSI somewhere on there at any hour of the day, I believe.

The few opportunities I’ve come across this week have been reasonably successful. I think that because my profit expectations are low, there is no pressure to chase bets. I’ve only had one red trade so far this week. I got sucked into a lay of the Argentinians in tonight’s Toulon tournament game after reading a blog explaining why the Dutch youngsters were a far superior side. Argentina won 4-0.

My 100% record on Tennis tips was maintained (just) by Federer on Monday. No more tips this week!

In the men’s event, the odds have Federer around 1.8, and his three adversaries all in the 6.6 – 7.2 range. Not sure the 2009-model Federer is particularly good value at that. I think it’s a toss of a coin. Recent slam history suggests that Murray’s conquerer goes on to some success. So, if you twisted my arm, Gonzalez at 6.4 may be the value. That’s not a tip.

The women’s final should be between Kuznetsova and Safina. The winner? Ha, this is the WTA, anything could happen. Just lay once either hits 1.05!