Before I start, a quick message to SteveDevo from the Betfair forum. If you’re going to paste my comments on the BF forum show me the basic courtesy of saying where you got them from rather than trying to pass them off as your own thoughts.
Nadal v Djokovic
The organisers have got their ideal final. The world number 1 against the defending champion who has successfully defended the title for the last 7 years.
Unusually there are doubts over both players going into this match. Djokovic lost the opening set against Youzhny and also against Monaco and seemed to be affected by his ankle injury. In the quarter final he was broken in his first service game by Nieminen but pretty much controlled the rest of the match. In his semi final he put an abrupt end to Fognini’s excellent run of wins. He lost just 3 games in that match.
Nadal lost a set to an excellent Dimitrov and came close to losing that match. In the semi final he seemed to be far too strong for Tsonga and was a set and 5-1 up but was dragged back to 6-6. He won the tie break but it was a very un-Nadal-like near-choke.
Nadal leads the head to heads 19-14. They played 4 times in 2012. Naturally they were all finals and the last 3 were all on clay. All 3 were won by Nadal. Monte Carlo and Rome were won in straight sets and the French Open final was won in 4.
Both players are insanely competitive and I am sure they would both pick each other as their most difficult opponent on a clay court. Nadal isn’t yet back to his best but he will find something extra to compete with Djokovic. Djokovic has the obvious ankle problem but I am sure pain killers and/or injections will get him through the match and enable him to give everything.
Nadal starts as favourite at 1.49 . Physically he is in better shape. Mentally he isn’t 100% but he will dig deep to get that 9th Monte Carlo win.
We don’t really know how serious the Djokovic injury is although maybe he was trying to get through the rounds with the minimum of aggravation to the ankle. If that’s the case then it backfired as he had to fight through 2 three setters. He showed against Fognini that he had extra gears to go through.
Djokovic, even when fit, isn’t at the level he was at during 2012 and a lot below his 2011 form. I expect this to be an excellent spectacle with Nadal coming through in 3 sets.