Djokovic’s four sets actually lasting longer than Zverev’s five
On Friday I said that I thought Novak Djokovic could keep it close and cover the game handicap against Rafa Nadal and my confidence was tested when he was 0-5 down in the opening set. However, the world number one fought back to take the King of Clay down in four sets, and inflict just the second defeat on Nadal in the last 10 years at Roland Garros.
Despite lasting just four sets, the match duration for Djokovic was over four hours long, and even though Tsitsipas needed five sets to get the better of Alexander Zverev, his victory via an extra set actually took around half an hour less. Considering this, I don’t think too much can be read into Tsitsipas playing a five-setter in the semi-final.
Head to head meetings mostly irrelevant
Djokovic has won five of their seven previous meetings but I don’t think too much can be read into that – Djokovic was ranked one or two for all of their meetings except one in 2018 when he was coming back from injury (and was still one of the top two players in the world) and Djokovic has been a solid favourite in all. His win over the Greek in Rome last month, however, was the biggest starting price of their head-to-head meetings at around 1.705/7.
Going back through all my historical pricing, I made Djokovic 1.594/7 that day, with around a 5.5% difference in projected hold percentage. The projected hold percentage differential between the duo is bigger today, at 6.5%, but we also have to take into account the best of five set format this afternoon (as opposed to three in Rome) which gives a greater edge to the better player.
Market price slightly short but not hugely so
I think the market price on Djokovic of 1.341/3 is a little short, but not absurdly so. I make him 1.444/9 to be celebrating with the trophy tonight, so a few ticks bigger than market lines.
It’s no bet for me, but if I was forced to have a bet on the match, it would be Tsitsipas on the game handicap.
You should be able to get around 1.705/7 in the run-up to the match with Tsitsipas receiving a 5.5 game head start, but that’s a little problematic simply due to the fact that he’s held serve less than 70% of the time against Djokovic in their meetings in the last two years. He will need to do a lot more than that to keep it competitive today.
Having said that, there’s clear evidence of Tsitsipas’ improvement since most of those matches, and he’s taken Djokovic to a decider in their two clay matches in the last two years. I think the match should be pretty close, and hopefully for the neutral it will be an absolute epic like both semi-finals were.
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