World number one Novak Djokovic takes on Tomas Berdych in the final of the third Masters 1000 of the season at the Monte-Carlo Masters on Sunday afternoon.
And Djokovic is looking for his third straight Masters 1000 title of the season after wins at Indian Wells and Miami and to become the first player to win all three opening Masters titles in a season.
Indeed, having won the final one of 2014 in Paris Djokovic is seeking his fourth in a row, but nobody – not even luminaries such as Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi et al, has managed to land the first three Masters titles in the same season.
Djokovic won five of the first six back in 2011, but Monte-Carlo was the one he failed to win on that occasion, but surely he’s a huge favourite to add another distinction to an already glittering career on Sunday.
Novak Djokovic vs Tomas Berdych
Yesterday’s question for Gael Monfils backers to answer proved to be spot on in his semi final with Berdych, as I asked: “Will he go back into his shell and revert to type against a bigger hitter and an opponent he’s almost always struggled against?”
The answer, sadly for Monfils backers, was a definitive ‘yes’ and after a limp display in a straight sets defeat Lamonf had this to say of his performance.
“My game doesn't give him trouble at all. I am not even frustrated, because I knew it would happen beforehand. I hope I will find a solution someday.”
Nothing like approaching your first Masters 1000 semi final for five years in positive fashion, eh Gael?
So, our ‘three sets’ bet was lost and Berdych, who didn’t have to do a great deal, goes forward to the final and a match-up that he finds the polar opposite of the Monfils one.
In 20 matches against Djokovic the Czech has won only two, but I guess the positive would be that Berdych did beat Djokovic on clay in a Masters 1000 only two seasons ago.
Since then though Berdych has won only one of the 13 sets contested by the pair and the last few matches have been drubbings, although the Czech did well to come back from a 0-6 start to take set two against Djokovic in Dubai.
Berdych’s heavy hitting can get its rewards on a quick surface such as Dubai, but on clay he hasn’t won a title since Hamburg back in 2009 and he’s lost five of his seven finals on the red dirt.
Interestingly, Djokovic has won the opening set in each of the last 10 matches between the pair, with the last set one that Berdych managed to win coming here in Monte-Carlo in the 2012 semi final.
Of those 10 opening sets won by Djokovic seven were won by 2.5 games or more and six by 3.5 games or more, so the 1.67 about Djokovic -2.5 games in set one looks good, as does the 2.48 about -3.5 games.
It wouldn’t be totally out of the question for Berdych to take a set here and the chance are it’ll be the second one, with the 5.80 about the Czech zoning for a set and grabbing the second looking like a decent long shot.
The over 9.5 games in set two is also not bad at 2.48 for the same reason and the under 6.5 aces at 1.87 is also worth considering, with Djokovic having hit only seven in four matches so far and Berdych rarely out-acing the Serb.
Value bet: Back Djokovic -2.5 games in set one vs Berdych at 1.67