The ATP ABN AMRO finals have come down to two interesting competitors, on one side the favourite Andy Murray, was beaten in the quarter finals by Gilles Simon. And on the other, Milos Raonic was struck down in the semi-final, clearing the path to allow both Tomas Berdych and Stanislas Wawrinka to make it to the big dance on Sunday in the 42nd Rotterdam tournament..
It might seem as if Berdych, if he keeps his game intensely controlled, should retain his ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament title after powering past the Frenchman Simon. Seeded third, he need less than an hour to wish farewell to his opponent, 6-2 6-1 in the semis, forcing four breaks of service and smashing 14 winners. After beating top seed Murray on Friday Simon could not cope with the relentless Berdych onslaught. In an interview with the ATP website Berdych said of the match: “My game was good and the game plan was even better.” He continued: “It was a very good game. I need to keep going as there is still one more match to go. I want to go all the way.” He will be chasing his 11th tour title. On the win Berdych explained, “We have worked really hard on my serve. I was able to control it today.” He’ll face Stanislas Wawrinka in Sunday’s showdown after the Swiss fourth seed, beat out favourite Canadian Milos Raonic 7-6(3) 7-6(7) in a match dominated by powerful serving.
Going into the semi-final, Wawrinka had won all three of the previous meetings with Raonic, and was able to preserve his perfect record against the Canadian second seed despite seeing 15 aces racing past his outstetched racket. He pushed past Raonic anyway 7-6(3), 7-6(7) advancing to his 18th tour-level final and moving to a 4-0 record against the big-serving Canadian. Talking with media afterwards he commented on his game, “In general, I’ve been playing really well. I’ve been really aggressive and moving well in the rallies. I served well when I was (against) a break point. It’s only one or two points that make the difference and I played a good tie-break.”
Wawrinka will be on a quest for his ninth ATP World Tour title, and his first on indoor hard courts, when he plays Berdych on Sunday. The only other indoor final he played was in 2007 in Vienna in a loss to Novak Djokovic. Against the Czech, the Swiss has dominated the rivalry, claiming eight of the previous nine encounters, including a 6-1, 6-1 whipping at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals last year. Wawrinka said of Berdych: “I’ve been improving, but he’s been playing really well at the beginning of the year. He won here last year so he will be very dangerous. I need to play my best game to have a chance to beat him.”
Out of the two finalists, only Wawrinka has won a Grand Slam championship, his first at the Australian Open last January where he defeated Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 at Melbourne Park. That’s why we’ll take him in 2 sets, to take the title away from the defending champion.
Our Pick: Wawrinka over Berdych in 2 sets, odds at 2.10