Djokovic Heavy Favorite Over Murray In French Open Semifinals
It’s a terrific men’s semifinal in the French Open on Friday on the red clay of Roland Garros in Paris as top-seeded Novak Djokovic, who dispatched clay-court king Rafael Nadal in the quarters, faces No. 3 Andy Murray. Djokovic, looking for his first French title and the career Grand Slam, is the -550 favorite with Murray at +400. The over/under sets is 3.5 at Bovada, with over -120.
Djokovic Holds Career Edge
While Djokovic is riding a wave of 27 straight match wins, including Wednesday’s milestone defeat of Nadal, the two-time French Open finalist will need to mentally move on to his next challenge against a confident Murray. The Scot has notched 15 consecutive victories, including clay titles in Munich and Madrid since marrying longtime girlfriend Kim Sears in April.
“He has improved on clay, no doubt about it,” said Djokovic, who owns an 18-8 record against Murray. “He’s moving better, serving very well, and he always had touch, one of the best groundstrokes in the game… He’s extremely talented. He’s also a great fighter and somebody that has a lot of experience playing in big matches.”
Murray hasn’t beaten Djokovic since the 2013 Wimbledon final, losing his past seven matches against the Serb, but he’s proven he can take down the World No. 1 on the biggest stages. He topped Djokovic to win his maiden Grand Slam title at the 2012 US Open. Murray has lost to the Serb at the last two Grand Slams, both times in four sets, in their 2014 US Open quarterfinal and the Australian Open final this year. They have met twice on clay, with Djokovic winning both times, most recently in Rome in 2011.
Both matches saw Murray’s challenge fade in the third and fourth sets, and the Scot added: “If I want to win the match, it’s not going to be plain sailing. … It’s very unlikely that you’ll be comfortable physically. It will be difficult, and you need to prepare yourself mentally before you go out on to the court.”
Murray, who beat David Ferrer for the first time on clay to reach his third semifinal here, compared Djokovic’s task of the career Grand Slam with that of his own when he won the Wimbledon title in 2013 to break the drought of 77 years without a British male singles winner at the sport’s spiritual home.
“You put extreme amounts of pressure on yourself to do it,” Murray said of his three-set win over Djokovic at Wimbledon, and Djokovic’s challenge in Paris. “You would say this is Novak’s best chance to do it, having beaten Rafa. “No one left in the tournament has won the event. He goes into the semi-finals being the most experienced player.”
The focus of attention for those on Court Philippe-Chatrier is likely to be the first semifinal, as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga continues his bid to become the first Frenchman since Yannick Noah in 1983 to win the title. His semifinal against Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka has been scheduled first, after Tsonga suffered a straight-sets loss to Spaniard David Ferrer at the same stage two years ago. Wawrinka upset Roger Federer in the semifinals. Wawrinka is a -250 favorite for this match.
The two 30-year-olds have split their six career meetings and their two meetings at the French Open, in 2011 and 2012, with both matches going the full five sets. Both men are big hitters but it’s the backhand-to-backhand matchup that should spell the difference. Wawrinka can blast his one-handed backhand like a bazooka through the court, while Tsonga avoids hitting his two-handed backhand whenever he can.
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