Once again, Novak Djokovic and Matteo Berrettini will face off in the late stages of a 2021 major. In both the Roland Garros quarterfinal and the Wimbledon final, the world No. 1 has survived the Italian in four sets. In Paris, Djokovic was a -455 favorite and projected to win by 5.5 games. In London, he was a -500 favorite projected to win by six games. They say good players win and great players cover, so naturally, the Serbian covered his spread on both occasions.

This time around, the oddsmakers are taking no chances. Djokovic is listed as a whopping -800 favorite and projected to win by seven total games. It would appear, at first glance, that there is some value on Berrettini to cover his seven-game spread. But when you dig a little deeper, it becomes clear that might not be the case.

Djokovic has beaten Berrettini in four sets this year at the French Open and Wimbledon.

Djokovic has beaten Berrettini in four sets this year at the French Open and Wimbledon.

Advertising

It’s tough to think of a worse matchup for Berrettini than Djokovic. Djokovic’s game is tailor-made to neutralize every strength Berrettini owns, while simultaneously exposing the Italian's not-so-great backhand.

Berrettini’s biggest strength—his serve—is negated by Djokovic’s all-time great return of serve. Berrettini’s thunderous forehand is negated by Djokovic’s unprecedented defense and counterpunching. And Djokovic’s most consistent weapon—his two-handed backhand—is light years beyond the susceptible Berrettini backhand.

The surface is different but the result is the same. If Berrettini floats a slice to Djokovic’s backhand he will paste it on a dime. 

Berrettini has proven he has the game to trouble Djokovic. Anything is possible with a big enough serve and forehand, but after injuring his thigh at Wimbledon and skipping every summer hardcourt tournament except Cincinnati, Berrettini’s level is not the same as it was at Wimbledon.

The Italian has dropped a set in his last three matches, and narrowly escaped disaster against Jeremy Chardy in the first round, falling down 1-4 in the first set tiebreak while saving two set points in the second set. This is not the best version of Berrettini, and Djokovic should dominate this matchup yet again.

The Pick: Novak Djokovic to win in straights (-120)