Rafael Nadal is gunning for a historic, ninth French Open title, and the only player that can derail him from his charge is Novak Djokovic. Indeed, the Serbian starlet was the odds makers’ favourite from the start, but would it be wise to bet on the underdog in this case?
Storylines galore, converging
Novak Djokovic is seeking to complete the career Grand Slam. He came close last year to accomplishing the feat, only to lose a heartbreaking five-set marathon in the French Open semi-finals to Nadal. Now, he has earned a second shot at the career Grand Slam in as many years, and, once again, standing in his way is Rafael Nadal.
Rafael Nadal, the eight-time French Open champion, is bidding for a record ninth title in Paris, fifth in a row. If the Spaniard accomplishes the feat, he’ll become the first player ever to win five in a row in Paris, and he’ll claim his 14th Grand Slam title, thereby, tying Pete Sampras in the record books. Nadal was on the brink of a 14th title in Australia earlier this year. However, a back injury sustained during practice and exacerbate at the start of the second set, and the stellar play of Stanislas Wawrinka from start to finish, conspired against him. Now, he has his second shot at a 14th title in as many Grand Slams, and standing in his way is his nemesis, Novak Djokovic.
The Best Rivalry in Sports today
Whether you are a Nadal fan or Djokovic fan, you must appreciate the quality of both players, and the quality of their matches. They are unrivalled when it comes to their unique ability to raise their game to stratospheric levels, to deliver bludgeoning stroke after stroke, from game to game, set to set. There is no question left unasked, no answer left unanswered. The modern day equivalent of gladiators, these two players are in a league of their own, the class of the ATP.
The pair has produced some of the most delightful, memorable and epic battles in the history of the sport. Followers will recall some of these epics, from the Australian Open final in 2012 that Djokovic won 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5, to their French Open semi-final last year that Nadal won 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7(3), 9-7, and every other match that came before, after and in between.
Nadal leads the head-to-head series 22-19, but Djokovic won the last four encounters in a row, including their Rome Masters final two weeks ago 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. On clay, Nadal leads the series 13-4 lifetime, and has won their first nine meetings in a row on clay. Since 2011, Djokovic has been more than a match for Nadal. They are 4-4 on clay since Djokovic won his first clay final against Nadal in Madrid in 2011.
French Open Final match betting tips and picks:
A very interesting thing has just occurred. Since the culmination of the semi-final round, tennis betting markets have drastically shifted, with Nadal, all of a sudden, emerging as the favourite to win outright at -125 at the expense of Novak Djokovic, who is tipped at +100. Why, just the other day, ahead of the semis, Djokovic was the bookmaker’s favourite to win the French Open title at -110 – an improvement on his tournament opening odds of +125. Nadal, meanwhile, was shafted into second-tier obscurity at +120~ish odds, or thereabouts depending on your sportsbook of choice.
What caused this sudden about turn? Is it a reflection of the action coming down the wire, bettors piling onto each player, prompting bookmakers to balance the action? Is it a direct consequence of the semi-final round, in which Djokovic dropped a set to Gulbis, while Nadal steamrolled Murray.
It’s hard to say. Perhaps, it’s a bit of both. In any event, it’s a moot point. If there is one thing that this great rivalry has taught us, it’s that anything can happen where these two players are concerned. More often, than not, it’s a game of millimetres. A difference of a few points, here and there, which means it could go either way, really. That’s the kind of quality these two players bring.
Nadal, the eight-time champion who is gunning for his ninth title, is finally getting the respect and acknowledgment he deserves in tennis betting markets, but he can’t take anything for granted. He hasn’t beaten Djokovic in four attempts, since he beat the Serbian star at the US Open final last year.
Djokovic is desperate for the French Open title, and, more importantly, to join an elite circle of career Grand Slam champions, an exclusive club Nadal is already a member of since pulling off the feat in 2010. When so motivated, Djokovic is a tough player to beat.
Tennis Betting Verdict
There are plenty angles for profit in this matchup. In terms of straight-up wins, it’s really a coin toss. Both players are more than capable of winning, which means they each present value on your tennis picks. If this billing lives up to the hype, we should have a five-setter on Sunday; both Nadal and Djokovic to win in five is tipped at +500. Otherwise, Nadal has the slight edge to win in straight sets or four sets over Djokovic.
Tennis Free Picks: Nadal to win outright at -125; Nadal in four or five sets at +350 and +500, respectively.