ATP French Open – Quarter Final – Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal
It’s the second set of quarter-finals in the French Open today and whilst Andy Murray’s tie against David Ferrer has potential to be a great clash, much more attention will initially be paid towards the match that the Tennis world has been looking forward to since the draw was made almost a fortnight ago – Novak Djokovic versus Rafael Nadal.
It is difficult to argue against most observer’s assertions that this match-up would have been a justifiable final, and without doubt the winner of this will be a huge favourite to claim the Roland Garros trophy.
Both players have had a straightforward route to this stage, with Djokovic having won every set he has played, and his worst set score was a 7-5 win against Jarkko Nieminen. Nadal has dropped one set, against the promising Jack Sock in the fourth round on Monday, but has otherwise looked much more assured in key moments, which has been such a prominent asset throughout his career but found wanting in 2015.
I’ve written a lot about Nadal’s 2015 and previous previews have focused on this, and anyone interested in further analysis may be interested in the following article I wrote prior to the French Open – http://www.tennisratings.co.uk/rafael-nadal—a-problem-of-bad-variance.
In brief, Nadal’s stats illustrate he is at just as high a level as previous years, but is failing to win key points on return, leading to situations where he has lost matches that he has been the better player.
On clay in the last 12 months, the hold/break stats are relatively even, with Djokovic holding 89.3% and breaking 36.1%, and Nadal holding 85.4% and breaking 42.2%. In isolation, this makes a mockery of the 3.50 available on the Spaniard, who has won 9 of the last 10 French Opens, and six of these tournaments featured a win over Djokovic, who is yet to get the better of Nadal at Roland Garros.
On that basis, if Nadal does have some mental frailties, there should be no better venue for him to alleviate his issues, against a player he has dominated here in the past.
Having said this, Djokovic has claimed five of their last six head to head matches, including three on Nadal’s favoured clay, and has the better stats in 2015.
All things considered, my model priced this at 1.55 Djokovic and 2.82 Nadal, giving some value on the Spaniard. I feel that a handicap avenue here is difficult, with little historical data available on Nadal as an underdog in Grand Slams, and an even money line of +5 games, or +1.5 sets at 2.10 doesn’t particularly appeal. Nadal -1.5 games at 3.75 also doesn’t seem worth the risk, given the low projected holds of these players today, which tends to create dominant double break sets more frequently than average. All things considered, I’d much rather take the bigger 3.50 on Nadal to win the match outright.
Tennis Handicap Betting Recommendation: Rafael Nadal to Win at 3.50
Prices correct at the time of writing.
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