Belfast Telegraph

The punter: Ace Roger has the drop on Tiger in major battle

By Robert Fenton

Roger Federer and Tiger Woods have been pitted in a head-to- head grand slam battle for 2008.

William Hill have opened a book on which of the greatest performers in tennis and golf will win most 'slams' in 2008.

Both are on their way to being the best of all time in their respective sports but, in this particular market, there is only one surefire winner and that is Federer.

Odds of 2-7 might appear short but, in all reality, it must be a certainty as Woods (5-2) will, more or less, need to win all four Majors next year to be sure of pipping the tennis maestro.

Federer, who won his fourth successive US Open on Sunday night - his 12th grand slam - made it three 'majors' this year compared to Tiger's one.

The nature of the two sports, means it is more difficult for Woods despite his command of golf.

Federer on the other hand, should pick up the Wimbledon title for a sixth successive time and at least the US or Australian Open again.

His only bete noir is the French Open which he has never won and which continues to deny him that elusive clean sweep, thus leaving that gap between himself and the former great, Australian Rod Laver.

The Swiss supremo is as low as 4-7 for the Australian Open in the New Year which should not be too taxing on him.

Odds of 5-1 to do the slam should be avoided like the plague as 12-1 is readily available elsewhere.

Woods is playing better than ever following his improved driving accuracy and there's no doubt there are plenty more majors to be taken.

He stormed home to his 60th event success with a masterful 63 in the BMW Championship and is 6-4 to win for the first time at East Lake in Atlanta which brings the Fedex Cup to a close this weekend.

That should go to Tiger as he leads Steve Stricker by 3,133 points, although the winner picks up 10,500 points. Woods is 1-8 to win outright and secure the $$10m bonus.

But whether the great man can land all four 'biggies' in the one year is another matter.

Winning even two is unlikely to be enough to outdo jolly Roger as only Rafael Nadal stands between Federer and that elusive grand slam dream.

Who will win more major events in 2008 (Hill's)? 2-7 Federer, 5-2 Woods (void if same number).

How many grand slams will Federer win in 2008? 10-1 none; 9-2 one; 15-8 two, 7-4 three, 5-1 four.

How many majors will Tiger Woods win? 6-5 one, 11-8 none, 4-1 two, 14-1 three, 50-1 four.

Iceland the best bet

It's make or break time for both Northern Ireland and the Republic in Europe tonight.

Failure to win and it is "goodnight Irene" for the Euro 2008 finals.

After Saturday's poor showing in Latvia, Nigel's boys need to bounce back big time to have any chance and they go into tonight's game in Reykjavik slight favourites at 6-4 which leaves Iceland, who drew at home to Spain last Saturday, a betting proposition at 17-10.

Northern Ireland can never be underestimated in the betting game, but the omens are against them now.

Steve Staunton remains upbeat for their clash in Prague but the layers make them 7-2 to qualify and 1-6 they don't make it.

With a match against Germany still to come, the Republic simply can't afford to lose tonight. They are a 4-1 chance but with Stephen Ireland missing, it's an uphill task.

Take the Czechs minus a goal at 2-1.

Handicap Betting: 2-1 Czech Republic -1.0; 23-10 Handicap Draw (1.0); 11-10 Ireland +1.0

McLaren value in 'spy' row

The fight for the F1 Grand Prix drivers' title is, more or less, a two-car race now.

And it centres around McLaren pair Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, unless Ferrari get somewhere with their 'spy' claims and matters are settled in the courtroom.

For that reason, Coral are offering a very generous 5-6 that McLaren take the constructors' title and with a 23-point advantage over Ferrari, that is some bet.

There is a risk that tomorrow's hearing into the McLaren-Ferrari spying case might upset the applecart but it is a risk very much worth taking.

After all, it was a Ferrari employee who was responsible for proferring information and it is highly debatable whether it was of any benefit to McLaren.

If rules have been broken, then a fine is the likely punishment as anything else will throw the whole F1 event into turmoil and legal wrangle.

Alonso is 11-10 market leader for a hat-trick of drivers' titles with Hamilton out to 6-5 despite holding a three-point lead with only four races left.

The big firms will be cheering on Alonso because of liabilities on Hamilton.

Next up is Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix for which Kimi Raikkonen is the 7-4 'jolly' with Hill's, which makes for a good punt on Alonso at a tasty 5-2 and Hamilton at 7-2.

It should be quite a race to the finish.

Belfast Telegraph


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