Li v Sharapova:
Head to heads are 6-4 to Sharapova. Li has won 4 of their last 5 matches.
This is a similar situation to what was expected in the Li v Williams match up before Serena withdrew through injury. Li has played great tennis at times but keeps allowing her opponent to pull back a big lead.
The last time they met I tipped Li to win as Sharapova wasn’t serving well at all and Li had taken their last 4 matches. Li just didn’t show up for that match. This time Sharapova is serving a lot better and her overall level of play has increased significantly.
Li has lost 4 of her last 5 matches against top 10 players.
Sharapova is very close to her best form. She is mentally tougher than she has ever been and very few players can match her in that department. Li is capable of playing well enough for long enough to take a set but I just can’t see her taking the match.
I feel that Shara’s price is too low at 1.39 as Li has been starting her matches very well. Ideally Li will break early and give us 1.80 on Sharapova.
Update: Now THAT was a match. For almost 2 sets Li played at an exceptionally high level. Whether or not Sharapova was rattled by LI’s play wedon’t know but her serve was below the level we had seen in previous matches.
Li won the first set and started the second set by immediately breaking Sharapova’s serve. A second break and a hold gave her a 4-0 lead. In her 2 previouus matches she had given up 4-0 and 4-1 leads only to win the set on a tie breakk each time. This pattern was about to repeat itself. Sharapova pulled back to 4-4 but this time Li wouldn’t win the set. In fact she lost a further 2 games and it was 1 set all.
In the third set Sharapova was a break up but this time i pulled back and we went into a tie break. The match was delayed at this point for an extensive rain delay. After the match resumed it was Sharapova who won a very tight tie break.
Sharapova won 4-6, 6-4, 7-6.
Djokovic v Nadal:
Head to heads are 17-14 to Nadal. In Monte Carlo Nadal broke a run of 8 straight wins over him by Djokovic. Their last 9 matches have all been finals.
In recent weeks I have called matches between the top 3 wrongly. I can’t remember the last one I got right! That changes right here.
Djokovic hasn’t been in the best of form lately by his exceptional standards. The semi final with Federer was his best for a while although he was made to look a little better by Fed’s below par performance.
Nadal has also had his problems but seems to be back in some sort of form especially on the clay. He was angry in Madrid and refused to play on blue clay again. This week we have seen some vintage Nadal. He beat Djokovic in their last match which was also on clay and I think he does the same today.
Djokovic struggled once again with his first serve in the semi final. In contrast Nadal’s first serve percentages in his 3 games weer 79%, 77% and 67% .
Djokovic is defending champion and Nadal is angry at losing his number 2 ranking. This should be a cracker. Nadal is hanging onto the “King of Clay” title by his fingertips and he won’t let this go easily.
Two tight sets or Nadal in 3.
Update: The final was delayed until Monday due to rain in Rome.
The first set was very close. Nadal broke first but Djokovic immediately broke back. It was hard to call who was going to take the set but Nadal got a late break and served out the set. In the second set Nadal again got the early break and this time was able to hold on for the match.
Nadal won 7-5, 6-3.