ATP French Open – Semi Final – Novak Djokovic vs Andy Murray
The French Open men’s tournament reaches the semi-final stage today and both matches intrigue, but have very different dynamics.
My model indicates that the match between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Stan Wawrinka is likely to be closer, both in terms of ability levels and set scores, than Novak Djokovic’s clash with Andy Murray.
The main reason for this is the projected hold percentages, which show that Tsonga and Wawrinka’s more limited return game will create less break point chances than Djokovic and Murray should.
With latter stage matches of Grand Slams with very exposed players frequently having little value (if Tsonga had beaten Kei Nishikori in easier fashion than the long 5-setter on Wednesday, I’d have liked the Frenchman more), I was forced to use these stats to provide some value on exotic bets or handicap positions today.
Generally speaking, a match up with two high projected hold players, or players limited on return, will have fewer sets on average, but more games per set, and strong returners tend to play more sets but these sets will be more dominant and feature double break margins much more often.
Focusing on the match between Djokovic and Murray, the Serb has won the last seven head to head meetings, with Murray last ousting the world number one in the final of Wimbledon in 2013. On this basis, Djokovic will have a strong psychological edge going into this encounter, particularly after getting the better of Rafael Nadal in straight sets on Wednesday.
In these last seven matches, Djokovic has won 16 of 19 sets, and has dished out two bagels. With his fitness almost certainly at a higher level than Murray anyway, and even more so having not dropped a set all tournament, I quite like Djokovic -1.5 games in set 3 of the match at 1.67.
Of further interest is the fewer double faults market. With some bookmakers going as short as 1.07 on Djokovic, 1.30 is a gift on the Serb, who has served just 0.03 double faults per service game at the French Open, compared to Murray’s 0.16. In 2015, Djokovic’s figures are still much better, serving 0.13 to Murray’s 0.19.
This illustrates the frailties of Murray’s second serve, but the Scotsman has little problems when he makes his first serve, with better numbers than Djokovic for aces per game – in head to head matches in the last three years, Murray has served 0.40 aces per game compared to Djokovic’s 0.31. At the French Open, Murray is running at 0.42 per game whilst Djokovic is lower at 0.29. It would appear that Djokovic has adopted quite a conservative first serve tactic at Roland Garros this year.
We have to go back seven matches to Miami 2014 to find a head to head match where Djokovic served more aces than Murray, and 1.36 appeals on the Scotsman here.
Tennis Handicap Betting Recommendation: Split Stakes, Back Novak Djokovic -1.5 games in set 3 at 1.67, Back Novak Djokovic to have fewer double faults at 1.30, Back Andy Murray to serve more aces at 1.36.
Prices correct at the time of writing.
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