ANDY Murray is in the French Open final for the first time. Mark Stinchcombe (@markstinchcombe) picks out the best bet for his match with Novak Djokovic.
Novak Djokovic v Andy Murray | Sunday 13:00 | ITV1
Novak Djokovic enters his fourth French Open final still looking for the elusive Coupe des Mousquetaires to complete his Grand Slam set.
After finally beating an under-par Rafael Nadal here last year (whom he had lost to on all six previous occasions), expectancy was high as he entered the final as a 1/6 favourite.
However, after taking the first set, there was nothing the World number one could do as Stanislas Wawrinka took the next three sets to leave Novak empty handed.
Whether the overwhelming pressure got to him is one question (he also lost from a set up against Nadal the year before and in 2011 after winning 45 successive matches lost as a 4/11 favourite in the semi to Federer) but there’s no doubt he will see it as a failure if he doesn’t win a Roland Garros title.
I was concerned ahead of Andy Murray’s semi-final against Wawrinka with the Scot having lost all three clay court matches including all seven sets with the defending champion, but Murray was excellent and really nullified the Swiss’ threat.
This after comfortably coming through the latter stages of the Richard Gasquet match 5-7 7-6 6-0 6-2. A far cry from the struggles the previous week against Radek Stepanek and Mathias Bourgue.
The conditions will continue to be damp and heavy as they have been all week, which seems to have suited Murray better. In Djokovic’s three matches combined this week he’s hit 90 winners but 91 unforced errors (-1). In-comparison, Murray has hit 87 winners across his two matches yet just 62 unforced errors (+25).
Murray has had the usual Wednesday-Friday- Sunday build-up to a slam final but Djokovic has had to play three days straight in Wednesday-Thursday- Friday and as we saw last year with having to play Friday-Saturday- Sunday, I do think that was detrimental in his match in the final against Wawrinka.
With the tiredness has come the grumpiness from the Serb with the hotly contested racket throwing that nearly hit a line judge in the Tomas Berdych match. This behaviour has carried on from Rome and suggests that maybe the pressure is getting to him on a surface he’s least comfortable on.
Since 2011, when Djokovic began his surge to becoming the best player in the world, they have met four times on clay with Novak leading 3-1, however Murray has taken at least a set on every occasion.
In Rome in 2011 the match went to a final set tie-breaker, last year Murray took the match to a 5th set, in Madrid last month Djokovic won another final set before Murray comfortably won Rome 6-3 6-3.
In the altitude of Madrid where the court plays faster, Murray was a 3/1 shot then in Rome in slower conditions, Murray was 9/5. So odds of 59/20 (nearly 3/1) look too big in circumstances which seem to be in Murray’s favour.
The onus is very much on Djokovic to win and Murray comes in with nothing to lose and everything to gain in his maiden French Open final. The Scot has won 35 of his last 38 clay court matches including winning Rome, Madrid, Munich as well as the Davis Cup, and looks the value at the prices.
Novak Djokovic v Andy Murray – Andy Murray to win (59/20 Marathon Bet)