12:00 – Gulbis v Djokovic
Gulbis has had an amazing tournament. He knocked out Federer in the 4th round and then destroyed a poor Berdych in the quarter finals. In both these matches he clearly came into them with a game plan. With Federer it was to target the backhand. Against Berdych he took time away from the Czech player and never let him settle. Not many people have figured out the way to beat Djokovic. Any losses have come either against the very top players or were due to Djokovic being ill or injured.
On the plus side for Gulbis is that Djokovic hasn’t had a tough match that would have fine tuned his game for this one. Chardy and Tsonga may as well have been walkovers. Cilic took a set, not surprisingly in a tie break. In the quarter final it was a typical Raonic match with few breaks and not many long rallies.
Djokovic hasn’t managed to win the French Open and it is the only Grand Slam title that eludes him. He reached the final in 2012 but would obviously love another crack at it.
With what Gulbis has achieved in this tournament Djokovic’s starting price of 1.13 doesn’t seem justified. Gulbis has beaten him before but it was back in 2009. Their most recent meeting was in Indian Wells in 2011 where Gulbis won just a single game.
Does anyone really believe that Gulbis has a chance? Not many (myself included) gave him much chance against Federer or Berdych. This is Djokovic though. He lifts his level for this type of match and I have to think it will be just too much for Gulbis. However I will be very surprised if he doesn’t manage a set. Let’s hope it’s the first one!
Djokovic in 4 sets.
14:30 – Nadal v Murray
Nadal at 1.16? Really? OK so he has only been beaten once at the French Open. OK he has won his last 33 matches there. 1.16 is a bit of an insult to Murray.
Murray has impressed me over all this tournament. Allowing Monfils back into the match in the quarter final wasn’t so impressive but he put the mistake right with a 6-0 final set.
Ferrer managed his first Roland Garros set against Nadal in their quarter final but it took so much out of him he was a spectator for sets 3 and 4.
The last time these two met was recently in Rome. Murray took the opening set 6-1 and narrowly lost the deciding set 7-5. That has to give him confidence. He is striking the ball exceptionally well. His serve will have to be better than in previous rounds. Against Kohlschreiber his first serve percentage was just 48% but that improved to 61% and 62% in the next two matches. over 60% is acceptable but acceptable won’t get the job done against Nadal. he needs at least 65%.
It is so hard to go against Nadal in the French Open but I think Murray will make him work for the win. Straight sets would be a huge surprise. Nadal has to be worth a lay and hopefully Murray can again take the opening set.