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The Pick: Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. Novak Djokovic, Rome quarterfinals
The red-hot Greek will hope to avenge his heartbreaking five-set loss to Djokovic at the 2020 French Open.
Published May 13, 2021
Defending Rome champion Novak Djokovic will take on the scalding-hot Stefanos Tsitsipas in a blockbuster quarterfinal Friday. Both Djokovic and Tsitsipas seem to have brought their best tennis this week, as neither player has lost a set.
On Thursday, the Serbian dismantled Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, 6-2, 6-1, while the Greek dispatched the in-form (albeit slightly fatigued) Matteo Berrettini, 7-6 (3), 6-2. If the pair's last encounter at the 2020 French Open—a 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 4-6, 6-1 battle won by Djokovic—is any indication of what to expect, tennis fans are in for a treat.
Tsitsipas has long shown flashes of brilliant clay-court tennis, but he’s put it all together this season, losing only to Rafael Nadal in Barcelona and red dirt lover Casper Ruud in Madrid. His combination of overpowering all-court tennis, exceptional movement and mind-boggling court coverage have been a joy to watch. But despite his stellar play, Djokovic is listed as a -143 favorite according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
Among many things, this match will come down to Djokovic’s ability to control and ultimately finish the point. Tsitsipas defended spectacularly during their last meeting, winning points from seemingly un-winnable positions.
The Greek’s defense on his forehand wing is second to none at the moment.
But Djokovic and his historically great backhand will have an edge in both the consistency and accuracy department. It will be interesting to see if Djokovic elects to pull the trigger, like he does here...
Or, if he decides to grind down Tsitsipas with his consistency, direction, and return of serve.
Betting against Djokovic always feels a little weird, but no one can deny that Tsitsipas has played at a significantly higher level on European clay thus far in 2021. Djokovic has won this title five times, but I am expecting a highly-motivated Tsitsipas to avenge his heartbreaking Roland Garros loss.
The Pick: Stefanos Tsitsipas