The penultimate Group A match of the round robin stage of the 2014 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals takes place on Wednesday night between Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka.
The world number one and the Australian Open champion meet for the 20th time in their careers tonight and the crowd at London’s o2 Arena will be hoping for some better entertainment than has generally been the case thus far.
Another one-sided affair took place yesterday afternoon when Roger Federer was a comfortable winner over an out of sorts Kei Nishikori, who had the trainer out early on for a wrist problem.
That was followed by yet another woeful match, this time between Andy Murray and Milos Raonic, with the latter unable to buy a first serve and when he did he leaked error after error on his forehand.
It eventually went the way of Murray, who simply needed to remain solid and wait for the errors from his opponent.
They came sooner rather than later in what became the sixth consecutive straight sets match of what has been a very disappointing tournament to put it kindly.
Novak Djokovic vs Stanislas Wawrinka
This will be the first meeting between these two Australian Open champions since Wawrinka defeated Djokovic in Melbourne at the start of the season.
The Swiss was a 9-7 final set winner that day in January, but on indoor hard it’s been a different story, with Djokovic winning both matches on this surface comfortably a year ago.
Since winning that major title in Melbourne it would appear that Wawrinka has become one of those players who seem to play their best only against the best and struggle to get inspired by the weekly tour grind.
That would explain some of the poor losses and odd performances that Stan has put in this year and maybe it was why he suddenly played well out of nowhere against Tomas Berdych in his opening round robin match here on Monday.
Much of the wide winning margin in that one was down to Berdych playing appallingly, but Stan seemed to be in a much better groove on serve than we’ve seen for a while and that gives him a chance of testing Djokovic today.
But I suspect that he’s not in the kind of form or confidence to be able to hit enough winners past the Serb on this slow surface that Djokovic enjoys so much, having won Bercy twice and this tournament twice on it in the last few years.
The odds-against on the minus 4.5 games on Djokovic looks good here at 2.10, with Novak having beaten Stan by seven and six games respectively on this surface in their two matches a year ago.
Djokovic needs to keep on winning to be sure of that year-end number one ranking and he started in great form against Marin Cilic in a 6-1, 6-1 win on Monday night.
Another double breadstick seems unlikely, but Wawrinka hasn’t beaten Djokovic on indoor hard for eight years and he would certainly want a quicker surface that rewards his attacking play – this certainly isn't it.
Stan’s record indoors isn’t the best, with a loss to Djokovic in the 2007 Vienna final his last appearance in a final indoors, and I would be much happier taking a chance on the Swiss in quicker outdoor conditions.
Much depends on the mood of Wawrinka here, but the sensible choice is for a Djokovic win in straight sets or the under 21.5 total games or the minus 4.5 games on the Serb, with the latter seemingly the best value.
Best Bet: Back Djokovic -4.5 games to beat Wawrinka at 2.10