Sunday, June 05, 2016

2016 FRENCH OPEN: Men's Final Preview (and Semifinals Review)

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] vs Andy Murray (GBR) [2]
This is my prediction post for the men's final at the 2016 French Open. Last year I did not predict that Stan Wawrinka would defeat Novak Djokovic to win his 2nd major title. This year I have correctly predicted 4 of 4 men's quarterfinals3 of 4 women's quarterfinals2 of 2 men's semifinals and 2 of 2 women's semifinals. (This year also I incorrectly predicted that Serena Williams would beat Garbine Muguruza in the women's final.

In this post I will review the mens semifinals and preview the men's final.

MEN'S SEMIFINALS REVIEW Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] d. Dominic Thiem (AUT) [13] 6-2 6-1 6-4The 22-year-old Thiem has just broken into the elite of men's tennis by reaching his first major semifinal and is now a bonafide Top 10 player. However,  the World #1 gave him a stern lesson on the distance the Austrian needs to travel if he wants to challenge the man at the top of the rankings.  The result was basically never in doubt, despite Thiem playing quite well Djokovic just demonstrated just how much better he is than the entire rest of the field.

Andy Murray (GBR) [2] d. Stan Wawrinka (SUI) [3] 6-4 6-2 4-6 6-2. Murray had the much more difficult task, drawn in the same half as the defending champion Stan Wawrinka. Despite only having a slight 8-7 edge over the hard-hitting Swiss champion and having lost the last three meetings (including no wins on clay) I predicted that Murray would win this match. From watching the clay court season it was clear to me that Murray is now (at least) the second best clay-court player in the world, and he demonstrated that with his 4-set dismissal of Wawrinka. Murray becomes the 10th player to reach the finals of all four majors tournaments and becomes the first male British player since Fred Perry in 1938 to play in the final of Roland Garros.

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] vs. Andy Murray (GBR) [2]We have seen this match-up many times before. In fact, the Djokovic-Murray rivalry now includes 7 meetings in major finals, which is just one ahead of the all-time record of the eight Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal meetings in finals (Rafa leads 6-2). Djokovic leads their major finals (4-2) and their overall career head-to-head 23-10 and 3-1 on clay. It should be noted that these two met last year in the French Open semifinals and Djokovic won 6-1 in the fifth. In fact, in their recent history their matches have been long but the final set is often a blowout in favor of Djokovic.

Mentally, all the pressure should be on Djokovic. Not only is he trying to finally complete the career grand slam so that he can bolster his claim to the Greatest of all time title in the future, he is also trying to do something which has not been done since Rod Laver did it in1969: be the defending champion in all four majors simultaneously, i.e. complete the Nole slam. Last year, Serena completed her second Serena slam and it should be noted that Djokovic was one win away from completing a calendar slam. If he wins he will also move to 4th on the all-time list with 12, only behind  Federer's 17 and 2 behind Nadal and Laver's 14.

Murray would love to win a 3rd major title and I think it is definitely possible that he could do that. Can he somehow come out and play a mentally tough and tactically fearless match tomorrow and blow Djokovic off the court like Wawrinka did last year? Yes, it's possible but also unlikely. Instead I think that it is Djokovic's moment and he will deliver a win to take his place in the pantheon of the greats.

MadProfessah's pick: Djokovic.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin