Olympic Tennis Best Bets for July 30

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We've arrived at the semifinals of the Men's singles draw in Tokyo, and we've got four feisty competitors remaining in the field. Novak Djokovic will look to advance one step closer to a calendar slam while some hungry youngsters vie for a spot in the gold-medal match. Now that the stage is set, let's take a look at some plays.

Karen Khachanov (+118) vs. Pablo Carreno-Busta (-150)

Our first semi will feature the talented Karen Khachanov, who seems to really be hitting his stride and getting into the form that's made him a champion at the main level. His returning has been great, and he's done a very solid job of hanging on to his serve, making him a very tough out.

The benefit Khachanov has had, though, is he hasn't exactly had to break his back on the way to the semis. He struggled against a clearly-inferior Yoshi Nishioka, breezed by a weak opponent in James Duckworth, and struggled with an out-of form Diego Schwartzman. He then walked into the quarters and disposed of Ugo Humbert in three tight sets, which saw him hold with ease.

Humbert's returning isn't nearly up to the standard of Carreno-Busta's, however, and I think the Russian will be in for a rude awakening. The Spaniard is an adequate returner, who should challenge Khachanov's serve, and his spot serving has been very effective in this tournament. He's one of the strongest hardcourt players in the world, and one of the world's best groundstrokers — better than Khachanov. I see his all-around game as the clearly better one, and it doesn't hurt that he's been an absolute warrior when competing for Spain in his career.

Edge: Carreno-Busta -150

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Novak Djokovic (-600) vs. Alexander Zverev (+390)

My read on the first semi is much clearer than this match, which is a tricky one to figure out.

Zverev has twice beaten Djokovic in his career, and with the way he's serving (and the heat on the courts in Tokyo) getting returns back against the tall German is going to be a tall task. He's been moving comfortably, seems to be over his double-fault issues and also has extended his great record at international events. He's one of the most talented players on tour, so when he's on, he's one of the hardest outs.

The problem here is that Djokovic seems to be on another planet. He's on a 22-match winning streak, unbeaten on outdoor hardcourts this year, and he's only lost 17 games in his four matches in Tokyo. He only lost three points behind his first serve against Kei Nishikori last match, a ridiculous stat, and converted five of 10 break chances. His returning — widely regarded as the best in the history of tennis — has been on point, and his service games have been almost as rock solid.

It's a very hard proposition fading Djokovic in any regard, but Zverev should be able to hang on to his serve well enough here to get into this match. I give him a puncher's chance, and think this one goes over. The form the German is in is very dangerous, and I'm not sure I've ever seen him serve better. We're likely headed to at least one tiebreak.

Edge: Over 20.5

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