Novak Djokovic vs Dominic Thiem Expert French Open Picks Against the Spread - 6/7/2019
Novak Djokovic vs Dominic Thiem
9:20am EST, 7th June 2019
Roland Garros (Paris, France)
Court Philippe Chatrier
French Open semifinalists in men part of the draw couldn't be more predictable. I believe these four guys were favorites to be the last 4 men standing in the online mock brackets. Some might have been a bit skeptical about Roger Federer before the tournament, taking his long pause in consideration, but he proved them wrong. Rafa's place was pretty much cemented, while Djokovic and Thiem punched their tickets with authority, winning their respective matches in straight sets. Doing so, they round up this group of familiar faces, proving once again that there are levels to this game. And that becomes more obvious than ever in best of 5 matches in Grand Slams.
Alexander Zverev had a shot at a very exclusive company if he'd manage to win today. Out of 80 players that faced Djokovic more the 4 times, Andy Roddick is the only one who has a positive H2H record. Zverev had an opportunity to become the second but failed miserably. He actually started strong and caught Novak with his guard down, not playing on his usual level in the first couple of games. It resulted in a couple of shaky service game by the Serbian, who was forced to save some break points. He was successful at doing so, until the 9th game, when Zverev finally got that break and was in a position to serve out the first set. From that point on, we only saw one player on the court and it was world No.1 Novak Djokovic. He broke Sascha's serve two times in a row, winning that set from behind 7-5. In the next two sets, he ramped up the pace and Alexander was just not able to keep up with it. 6-2 was the score in both 2nd and 3rd set, which was enough for another semifinal for the Serb who is still in the hunt for that non-calendar Grand Slam.
I already wrote about Dominic's struggles in the first week of the tournaments. He had a couple of rough outings like the ones vs Paul and Bublik, but those went by unpunished. He learned a lot from those obviously, because he managed to raise the level of his tennis in every match after that and probably performed the best vs Khachanov in quarterfinals. The weather might have also helped there. With sun upon the sky and court being dry, his style of play is way more productive on the clay courts, because he can make that ball kick off the ground and force his opponent to back up. And something like that happened to the Russian who was mostly prolonging his "certain death", by barely hanging on during the baseline rallies. Thiem obviously had an upper hand there and it showed on the scoreboard in the end.
These two met 8 times so far in their careers. Djokovic was owning this matchup early on, winning the first 4 between year '14 and '16. But after that, more interesting things started to happen. Thiem grew into one of the best players and was not just a talented kid anymore. The statement was made at French open '17 when he eliminated Djokovic in straights sets. After that, they had another 2 clay court bouts, splitting those to 1 win each. So, the H2H might show Djokovic dominating, but the recent meetings were very close and exciting. We could see that theme repeating tomorrow as well. With Dominic raising the level each round in this tournament and Djokovic playing on a high level throughout, this should be a very close encounter with inches deciding the winner in the end.
Betting odds & prediction
The line opened with Novak being favored 2 to 1. I expect that to the line to move towards the underdog, with a lot of bettors seeing Thiem as a live dog in this one. I don't completely disagree with that. But I have a small reservation about putting faith in him, knowing that weather report is not great for tomorrow. As I mentioned above, his game is very dangerous in sunny and dry conditions, but not so much when it is cold and possibly even wet. It gives Nole way better situation to control Thiem's forehand and prevent balls to get past him. Total is sitting at 39.5, which might be a point or so low because I don't see either of these two guys destroying the other, the way they've been playing lately.
Josh's Pick: over 39.5 games (-104)
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