Tennis Picks: Djokovic vs. Gulbis in French Open Semi-final

Nila Amerova

Wednesday, June 4, 2014 3:35 PM GMT

Wednesday, Jun. 4, 2014 3:35 PM GMT

Novak Djokovic reaches the semi-finals of the French Open for a second straight year. Standing in his way of the final, and potentially the illusive title, is Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis. Will Djokovic advance according to expectations or will Gulbis, who is having the tournament of his life, mastermind the upset?

Novak Djokovic the top favourite
Just before the French Open got underway, pre-tournament markets had Novak Djokovic as the player to beat at the French Open, despite never having won the title and, more specifically, at the conspicuous expense of eight-time champion Rafael Nadal. The thinking was: his form on the season was the best of all the top players, so much so, that it warranted better odds than traditional favourite Rafael Nadal.

So far so good for the Djokovic camp and his fans, as Nole advances into the semis on the back of scintillating form, an extension of the form that saw him win back-to-back Masters in March (Indian Wells and Miami), and beat Rafael Nadal in the Rome final. Djokovic opened as the top favourite at +125 tennis odds (or thereabouts) across sportsbooks. Since reaching the penultimate round, his odds have swelled to -110 – a clear indication of growing confidence amongst sportsbooks, and tennis betting circles.

Standing in Djokovic’s way is Ernests Gulbis, a player who has finally come of age. The Latvian has long been held a player to watch, but repeated failures and a lack of commitment, bordering on absolute disinterest in the game, saw his estimation and stock value diminish. Nobody was buying what he was selling.

Each year, from tournament to tournament, Grand Slam to Grand Slam, there is a possibility of a surprise package: a great run by an unheralded player achieving something he/she hereto hasn’t yet achieved. It could be a feel good story by a complete unknown, or the complete makeover and mental transformation of well-known player. Whichever it might be, it’s something tennis bettors and fans of the sport can well appreciate.

As it were, this term is about the Latvian’s long awaited rise. In beating Federer in the R16, in a five-set marathon against the odds, and then backing it up with a straight set victory over Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals (once again, against the odds), Gulbis has underlined his merit, and any sepia-toned memories of him can be safely set aside. If he’s taking himself seriously, so should we.

As such, Gulbis, who is now tipped as the fourth favourite to win the title at +1600, looms as a viable threat to Djokovic’s bid for a spot in the finals and, in turn, for his bid to complete the career Grand Slam. 

Of course, beating a player of Djokovic’s ilk, in a best-of-five scenario, is easier said than done. Hence, sportsbooks have gone to press with rather absurdly opposing odds on each player, suggesting the upset is less likely to happen than some would like to believe. Djokovic is the prohibitive favourite at -900 to win outright, and Gulbis the significant underdog at +550 to mastermind.

Djokovic doesn’t underestimate opponents often, especially not after receiving adequate warning. Indeed, Raonic’s solid account in Rome against the Serbian starlet, taking a set off him, served as such. He was all business in their quarterfinal encounter, dispatching the Canadian in straight sets.

Gulbis trails 1-4 lifetime against Djokovic; his only victory against Nole (now five years old) came in Brisbane in the R32 when he beat him 6-4, 6-4. Since 2009, Djokovic has beaten Gulbis twice; their last encounter was a most comprehensive beat down, a 6-0, 6-1 victory at 2011 Indian Wells.


Tennis Betting Verdict
At face value, it would appear Djokovic is the correct tennis pick at -900 to win outright. After all, he’s a proven Grand Slam champion, established top player and odds makers’ favourite to win it all. If that is your inclination, you’re probably better off to add some side tennis picks to your wagering ticket, such as Djokovic to win in straight sets, which is tipped at -138. If you are confident Djokovic will win, but Gulbis will give him a run for his money, backing Djokovic to win in four or five sets is a tempting tickle at +250 and +650, respectively.

The pair knew each other as teens, then trained together in Germany. Since both went pros, they’ve faced off five times, with Djokovic going four matches to the good. What’s more, their careers are polar opposites. The upshot of which is a convincing edge to Djokovic.

However, Djokovic has yet to play the reinvented Gulbis. This isn’t the same guy that he played against and trained with when they were but 13 and 14 year-old; nor is it the same player that he beat down in Indian Wells three years ago. This is a serious Gulbis, a hard-working Gulbis. So for those cautious optimists that quite fancy the reinvented Gulbis – confident he’s here to stay – backing the improbable upset at +550 is attractive, if not brash. Even bolder would be backing the straight set win at +1800, or the four or five set win, both of which are listed at +1400.

Are we feeling bold? Go on, then..

Tennis Free Picks: Gulbis to win outright at +550

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