Djokovic blew Rafael Nadal off the court and now clashes with Murray for a place in the French Open final
When Andy Murray hangs up his tennis racquet many years from now, he might reflect on how many Grand Slam titles could have been landed had Novak Djokovic not been around during the same era.
The Serbian has denied Murray three times in Grand Slam finals during his career and is a heavy favourite to claim a semi-final victory at Roland Garros on Friday when the pair meet, with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Stan Wawrinka clashing in the other half of the draw.
Murray exited the 2014 French Open at the same stage, with Rafael Nadal producing a masterclass on clay to triumph by dropping just half a dozen sets.
However, Nadal’s level twelve months ago has now amazingly been surpassed by a super-human Novak Djokovic who beat his Spanish rival 7-5, 6-3, 6-1.
Aside from a first set comeback from Nadal, there was a gulf in quality between the Serbian and nine-time French Open champion, with Rafa unable to live with any aspect of Djokovic’s amazing game.
It makes Paddy Power’s free bet addition to their 6/5 offer interesting if another straight sets win for the world number one when he clashes with Murray, even if his opponent also sparkled for large parts of his facile win against David Ferrer.
Three years ago, it would have been inconceivable to see Murray outclass Ferrer on clay although the Madrid Masters victory earlier this year where Nadal was trounced in the final indicates that Andy has a new powerful clay court game.
“I’ve put myself in a position to win against the best players in the world on this surface,” said Murray, who won in Munich and Madrid recently and claimed the scalp of Rafael Nadal for the first time on clay.
“My build up has been good and going into the match having not lost on clay, plus having some big wins behind me, is great for confidence.
“I just need to keep doing what I’ve been doing. It’s not going to be plain sailing and I need to be mentally strong against a player like Novak and accept it’s never going to be physically comfortable. “It’s going to be difficult but I’m going to be prepared.”
Bet365 offer odds of 4/1 that Murray beats Djokovic and he can play freely as the underdog hoping to expose some vulnerability in his opponent’s game.
Even so, the big concern for Murray is that he dropped a set against Ferrer where his form dipped, while Jeremy Chardy and Joao Sousa also claimed a set against the Brit before losing.
“He’s playing some really good tennis and has really improved on clay,” said Djokovic, a two-time beaten finalist in Paris.
“He’s moving better, serving well and he’s had some of the best ground-strokes in the game for around ten years now. He’s an extremely talented player and he’ll be motivated to go past the semi-finals for the first time here.
“Andy’s a fighter, he has lots of experience of these big matches.”
Even so, it looks like a thankless task for Murray who will face an opponent looking to claim a clean sweep of Grand Slam titles in 2015.
Novak Djokovic to win in straight sets @ 6/5 with Paddy Power