Novak Djokovic vs Alexander Zverev French Open Picks - 6/5/2019
Novak Djokovic vs Alexander Zverev
7am EST, 5th June 2019
Roland Garros (Paris, France)
A very interesting stat was posted on Twitter yesterday, saying that more than 80 players have faced Novak Djokovic at least 4 times and out of those 80, only one (with number: 1) has a positive record. It's not Rafa, it's not Roger. American Andy Roddick is the one that holds the bragging rights. He was always very charismatic character and one of the funniest guys on the tour and he didn't disappoint with his reply in this situation either. He said that he retired just to preserve his 5-4 H2H vs current world No. 1.
I am writing all this because Alexander Zverev has the opportunity to join the lonely Andy Roddick in that category if he wins on Wednesday and improve his H2H score to 3-2. I probably don't have to tell you how difficult this is going to be for Sascha. After starting this tournament super slow and walking on very thin ice vs Millman and Lajovic, he did show some signs of life in the 4th round win over Fognini. That can't be completely disregarded, as we've seen many times in past when top players timed their form to perfection and start to heat up once the Gran Slam tournament got into its second week. Is that the case with Zverev or not is yet to be seen. The problem is that his tennis was mediocre even before the French Open, not just the first week of it. Also, he doesn't have a track record of success at Grand Slams, where we could say he's done this type of stuff in past, so we can realistically expect him to raise the level of his game in the second week. The situation involving his coach Ivan Lendl got even more confusing after Alexander's latest comments. It is quite obvious that something is no right in that camp and it might be affecting his performance in a negative way. Not a great place to be at before confronting Djokovic.
Not much to be said about Nole on the other side. Manhandled his part of the draw. Didn't drop a set and also haven't allowed more than 4 games to his opponent in any of the 12 sets played so far. He is on a mission right now. Not only in a hunt for another Grand Slam title, which will get him closer to Nadal and Federer, but also to make another entry into the tennis history books. With the title in Paris this year, he would be only 2nd player in the history to complete a non-calendar Grand Slam. Only other player to do so - legendary Rod Laver.
I already mentioned their H2H, which is tied at 2 right now. An interesting fact is that none of those went the distance, while Zverev won their only bout on clay in Rome 2017. Very cold weather is expected tomorrow in Paris and I believe that slightly favors Novak. It is never a good thing to face the best returner in the world in slow conditions. Especially not for someone that relies on his serve and needs those easy points that are a product of that powerful shot. If it's not there for him, he has to compensate that in another area and I don't see how he can do that at the moment. His game is too passive. He is playing from way behind the baseline and I don't think he can rattle Djokovic that way. He has to pray for Nole's game to fall apart completely and that is not something I would count on.
Betting odds & prediction
There's not much to talk about when looking at these lines. Zverev is 5 to 1 underdog. The spread is -7 and the total is sitting at 34. With all these prices, bookmakers are trying to charge an absolute premium to anybody that wants to back the Joker in this spot. Despite everything pointing his direction, I'm really not a fan of paying a premium on anything when it comes to betting. You need everything to go as expected to cover this type of spread with a favorite, but we all know that is difficult to do when it comes to sports. There is not much pressure on Zverev here. Let's assume he comes very relaxed into this match, push Nole a little bit in certain period of the match and make it interesting.
Tony's Pick: over 33.5 games (+101)
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