The final of the second Masters 1000 tournament of 2015 is in-play on Sunday when Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray contest the championship match of the Miami Open.
Djokovic arrives into his fourth final of the 2015 season after landing one of my two bets on Friday when the ‘sure thing’ of over 9.5 games in set one of his semi final was successful.
The world number one’s opponent in that semi final John Isner was unable to take the set I required of him to land the ‘long shot’ of 2-1 to Djokovic and on Sunday the Serb faces Murray for the 26th time in their senior careers.
Novak Djokovic vs Andy Murray
Part 26 of a career series between these two former junior rivals looks likely to go the way of the Serbian, who has the upper hand over the Scot each time they’ve met since the 2013 Wimbledon final.
Indeed, Djokovic has won nine of the last 10 meetings with Murray and of late the gap between the pair has widened, with seemingly only Roger Federer (in quick conditions) able to challenge the world number one.
Murray hasn’t been at all competitive in the last four sets they’ve contested since his capitulation in Melbourne and he looked further away than ever in their Indian Wells semi final a fortnight ago.
In finals they’ve met 10 times before, with the score currently tied at 5-5, but Djokovic has won the last three going away, with 6-3, 6-2 and 6-0 set scores ending the matches in his favour.
Murray does have a slight advantage in that he’s more familiar with conditions at Crandon Park, but Djokovic is hardly a stranger here and unless it blows a gale it’s a minimal edge at best.
The Scot’s second serve is still a massive issue for him against the very best and even Tomas Berdych won 65 percent of the points on it in their semi final here in Miami on Friday.
Murray struggles to protect it against Djokovic and unless he has a great day on his first delivery – as he did against Berdych – it’s hard to see Murray winning this or even getting that close.
One bet that I do quite like here is the -1.5 handicap on ‘Djokovic most aces’, which is priced up at 2.10.
The Serb out-aced Murray 7-1 in last year’s quarter final here at the Miami Open and he out-aced Isner in their semi final here on Friday, which indicates how much Novak’s serve has improved under Boris Becker.
Murray does tend to get a racquet on more of his opponents’ serves than most though and it will probably be a close-run thing.
I also like the ‘under 8.5 games’ in set two as a long shot at 3.80, with Djokovic, as I said earlier, tending to run away with matches at the end, as was the case in Melbourne and Indian Wells and Bercy last year.
Favourites have a good recent record in the Miami Open final, with Djokovic’s win over Rafa Nadal in 2011 being the only success for an underdog in the last six years.
And I can’t see that trend being bucked by Murray today.
Sure thing: Back Djokovic to beat Murray at 1.30
Long shot: Back under 8.5 games in set two at 3.80