The final of the Shanghai Rolex Masters is all set for Sunday at the Qi Zhong Tennis Centre between Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
I said yesterday that there may not be too much between Tsonga and Rafa Nadal and there was just three points separating them in the semi final on Saturday, but we were one game short on the set one overs.
Those who went for the over 2.5 sets would have profited, but I’m not sure that many punters would have foreseen a second set bagel delivered by Nadal to Tsonga or the Frenchman to prove mentally tougher when it mattered.
Novak Djokovic vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
It was altogether an easier passage through to the final for Djokovic, who ran into a dismal Andy Murray in their semi final on Saturday.
World number two Murray was barely even a test for the world number one in a 67-minute thrashing that saw the Scot throw in 30 double faults in a 6-1, 6-3 romp for Djokovic.
So, it’s Djokovic vs Tsonga at 09:30 UK time on Sunday and it will be the 20th career clash between the pair of a series that Djokovic leads at the moment 13-6, although the Frenchman won their last meeting.
That was at the 2014 Rogers Cup in Canada when Tsonga came from nowhere to land the title, beating Djokovic, Murray, Dimitrov and Federer back-to-back.
At that time Djokovic was playing only his second match since Wimbledon, which partially explained that 6-2, 6-2 drubbing from Tsonga, and that certainly won’t be an excuse for Novak this time around.
Djokovic won the previous 11 matches in their career series and he only dropped a set in two of them and you have to wonder how much Tsonga will have left in the tank after yet another three setter this week.
Fitness should certainly favour Djokovic, who has played only six sets to reach this stage and 52 games in total, while Tsonga has played 14 sets and 144 games.
Tsonga has a 12-9 record in main level finals and 2-1 at Masters 1000 level, while Djokovic has won 55 of his 81 finals and is 23-12 in Masters 1000 finals.
From a betting point of view this one seems a bit of a mismatch, according to the prices, with the Serb a 1.08 shot, and that’s the shortest price he’s been in a final since facing Feli Lopez in the 2011 Belgrade title match.
In all he’s won 148 of 152 matches on outdoor hard at that price, with the last loss coming against Ivo Karlovic in Doha at the start of the year.
From Tsonga’s viewpoint, he’s only been a 9.0 favourite or bigger twice in the past, and both were against Andy Roddick back in 2007 and 2005 (he lost both).
He was a 5.77 chance when he beat Djokovic in Toronto last year and that’s the only time in eight career matches that he’s won at a price of 5.50 or bigger.
I think that with the form that Djokovic is in at the moment it’ll be a huge ask for a fatigued Tsonga to come close to winning this, but the 3.10 about a tie break being played is a good ‘long shot’.
This season Lopez, Kevin Anderson, John Isner (twice), Karlovic and Milos Raonic on the big servers list have taken Djokovic to tie breaks, as well as Bernard Tomic here this week, so if Tsonga’s produces from the service line that bet has a decent chance.
Long shot: Back over 0.5 tie breaks at 3.10