T365 tipster Deggsy’s betting lows

I would love to say that almost two decades of heavy tennis punting has been plain sailing. I’d love to but I’d be lying.

Indeed I remember being so skint for Christmas towards the end of the 2009 season that when I opened the door of my advent calendar the bailiffs were stood there.

You see for every yin there is a yang. And for every Marat Safin there is a Tomas Berdych.

To the uninitiated, Berdych is a Czech powerhouse who reached an ATP high ranking of number four during his heyday.

However, Berdych was a player I could never get on the right side of. He was my betting bogeyman and I am quite convinced that had he never turned pro I would be driving around in a Range Rover now and writing this while wearing a Harrods of London Chinchilla Fur Jacket.

I curse the day the big fella ever hit a ball in anger as with the ‘Berd Man’ it was a classic case of if you backed against him, he won imperiously while if you steamed into him with a heavy single he sprayed the ball anywhere but inside the tramlines.

Tomas Berdych

Yet if I regret the day Berdych was born, I also have to hold my hands up and say some of my biggest ever low points were self-inflicted. Like the time I drank over 30 cans of 33cl San Miguel during one balmy afternoon at the 2004 SEAT Godo Open in Barcelona and began heckling Todd Martin.

The American was never anything other than the perfect gentleman throughout a distinguished career and looked genuinely bemused as I gave him a tirade of unnecessary abuse during his first-round encounter with David Ferrer.

I won’t repeat some of the names I called the American that fateful day – but let’s just say legendary commentator Dan Maskell would not have approved of either my language or being chased around the Davis Cup (on display after Spain’s historic win a year before) later on in the day by a guard who was demanding that I “levanta tus pantalones”.

Clearly alcohol and tennis betting don’t mix, but one of the toughest losses I ever had to swallow had nothing to do with the demon drink.

In 2004 I had Guillermo Coria down as ‘the lock of all locks’ to win the French Open.

The lightning-fast Argentine had been running amok on clay that year, winning in Buenos Aires and Monte Carlo (and even reaching a hard court final in Miami before the European clay swing began).

He cruised through the early rounds at Roland Garros, where his draw opened up like a dream. Indeed 2004 was the last French Open in which no member of the ‘big four’ reached the semi-finals.

‘El Mago’ beat an out-of-his-depth Tim Henman in the semis and waiting for him in the final was an unseeded Gaston Gaudio, who had never gone past the third round at the French and who was 13-13 for the season.

So when Coria went 6-0 6-3 up you could probably forgive me for already counting my winnings, given I was on for my first ever four-figure return from a sporting event if Coria obliged.

Alas what ensued was perhaps the biggest Grand Slam final choke of all-time as Coria blew a two-set lead, two match points and countless breaks of serve.

Looking back now it feels like a match from another age, a match Argentine journalist Sebastian Fest memorably told Tennis Magazine was “an open air psychologist session shown on TV around the world.”

Gaudio won the match – the last man to win a French Open final from two sets down – while Coria’s career never truly recovered.

Thankfully my bank balance eventually did, but I learned a hugely expensive lesson that day about the importance of locking in a profit ‘in play’ when the chance presents itself.

By Deggsy Bilton.

Bilko’s Banker: Alexander Zverev to win one Grand Slam title in 2018 at 100/30 (Paddy Power)