CAN Andy Murray overcome Novak Djokovic in Paris? Mark Stinchcombe (@markstinchcombe) gives us his best bet.
Novak Djokovic v Andy Murray | Friday 14:00
Novak Djokovic comes into this semi-final impressively, yet to drop a set and is now 41-2 for the year, 15-0 on the clay. Meanwhile Murray has dropped sets in three of his five matches as he's moved to 15 straight clay court victories.
This will be the fourth meeting between these two this year with Djokovic winning all of them so far. Looking further back to last year, Novak has all won seven meetings since Andy's back surgery.
Despite 9/2 (BetVictor) Murray's brilliant month on the clay it will be a big ask to upset the World Number 1. His 1st serve % is down at 59% in-comparison to Novak's healthy 72%. What makes that worse, is Murray is winning less than half of his 2nd serve points (48%), compared to Djokovic's better defended 63%.
Murray's 2nd serve has always been seen as a weakness in his game, and I think Djokovic will take full advantage having already won a huge 114 points on opponents 2nd serves.
In their last seven meetings, Djokovic has won on average by at least eight games (if their best of three matches continued at the same rate) and Novak has won his five matches by an average of at least nine games, which makes the 5.5 game handicap the bet here. This would have won in both of their Grand Slam meetings in Australia and the US in this period.
From an in-play perspective, if Djokovic takes two sets, I would be looking at him taking his final set by a couple of breaks of serve or even a bagel. He's bagelled Murray in winning his third set twice this year, as well as against Stan Wawrinka, Alexander Dolgopolov and Andreas Haider-Maurer.
Djokovic has successfully grinded Murray down to an extent where he has nothing left to give and with Murray's longer than usual clay court season possibly taking effect on him, Novak may take advantage again on a slow clay court.
Novak Djokovic v Andy Murray – Novak Djokovic -5.5 games (4/6 Bet365)
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