Here we go again, for the fifth time this year good buddies and longtime rivals Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray meet, and it will probably go according to trend, that is with the Serb winning, this time the setting is the Canadian Open Montreal final.
Earlier today, each former champion got there rather easily and efficiently unlike the previous round.
Djokovic ran his record to 10-0 (24-0 in sets) against the hapless and happy-just-to-there Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 6-4. Novak didn’t look great, but really, he didn’t need to against the Frenchman who other than in the first few minutes of the match, offered little in the way of opposition.
“Novak, at the moment, is the best,” said Chardy who’ll climb up to a US Open seeding. “Every time I play against him, I have a lot of problems. He returning really well and forces you to make a difficult choice all the time.”
“If you have a good head-to-head record against the player you’re facing, it gives you a little bit of a mental edge,” said Djokovic. “In crucial moments, that’s maybe what helped me hit the right shots at the right time.”
In the evening, it figured Murray would get a real test from the hot-handed Washington champion Kei Nishikori. But it wasn’t to be as Murray rolled a physically struggling Nishikori 6-3, 6-0.
“I think I’m more tired,” said Nishikori citing no real injury. “Everything was sore these couple of days. Today it got a little bit worst so I couldn’t really move 100%.
“Especially after the first set, I was feeling it more and more. At the beginning of the first set I was okay, but after that I wasn’t the same player.”
I guess beating Rafa will do that! And as I feared, winning Washington was just too much tennis for Kei.
The win for Murray moves him back to No. 2 for the time being, though Roger Federer will have a chance to reclaim it in Cincinnati.
So after Friday’s thrills and chills, today we saw two duds in the semifinals. But that said, it seems every day we go drama-free in Montreal, the next day it’s fireworks. And that’s what I’m counting on tomorrow with Djokovic and Murray.
Novak Djokovic v Andy Murray
It’s 19-8 in their head-to-head but the big number is the fact that Novak’s won their last 8. And he’s doing it by punishing Murray in those final sets.
6-0, 6-3, 6-0, 6-1. Those have been the last set scores of their four matches this year. Murray plays well early as we saw in Paris in June, but Djokovic just wears him down. He’s just been too strong, both mentally and physically.
And on top of that, there’s Murray horrific 1-14 record vs the Big 3 since the back surgery. That remains a serious, serious issue as we saw at Wimbledon last month.
“I’ve played him so often in big matches, including Grand Slam finals,” said Murray of Novak.. “We’ve had some good fights and some good moments. I know that anything can happen.”
We’ve seen what happens, Andy, and that is you lose.
But there’s actually some hope here.
Novak just hasn’t looked that sharp this week. I think Murray’s been the better of the two. Djokovic had to save those matchpoints against Gulbis and watching him play he seems to be using the event more of as an extended practice session, smiling, engaging the crowd, even playing doubles! While Murray’s been all business, and he hasn’t dropped a set.
Still, Novak’s No. 1. He’s got that ridiculous 30 match win streak in Masters Series and this close to the US Open he probably doesn’t want to give Andy any ideas or any edge. So unless Andy plays incredibly aggressive, serves well and goes for broke and connects, Djokovic in your winner.
The pick: Djokovic in 3
ESPN2 has coverage of the men’s final from Montreal at 3pm ET.
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