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The Pick: Wimbledon's final-round plays in Barty vs. Pliskova and Djokovic vs. Berrettini
The finals will feature two hefty favorites against the tournament's biggest hitters.
Published Jul 09, 2021
It’s been a successful Wimbledon so far, with our +700 outright selection Ashleigh Barty reaching her first Wimbledon final, as well as our only two outright plays on the men’s side—Matteo Berrettini at +2700 and Novak Djokovic at -110—advancing to championship Sunday. Both Barty and Djokovic will enter their championship clashes as substantial favorites, so let’s break down these matches from a betting perspective.
Ash Barty vs. Karolina Pliskova
First off, what an incredible performance this fortnight from Pliskova. Blessed with an easy draw, the Czech capitalized on her opportunity by winning five consecutive straight-set matches before upstaging second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. Pliskova was clearly the better player, earning a look at 10 break points compared to just one for Sabalenka.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Aussie is listed as a -245 favorite and projected to win by 3.5 total games. Their head-to-head record is filled with spectacular matches, with Barty owning a 4-2 advantage, but never securing a straight-set victory. That might change on Saturday, as Barty has been the most impressive player of the tournament.
In addition to her incredible serve, Barty wreaks havoc on her competition with her pinpoint forehand accuracy. Most WTA players own incredible open-stance two-handed backhands, and therefore play far superior defense from that wing. But Barty counters that by knifing her slice, forcing her opponents to hit up on the ball, and then running around to crack a forehand into the open court.
The safest play from this position is a high-looping ball (which allows time to recover) to Barty’s backhand corner. But Pliskova never employs of such a shot, and will likely go for broke when put in this compromising position. If she hits her running forehand well, she absolutely has a chance to win this match. But if she misses the shot, or misses her spot, Barty will clean up with a routine forehand.
If you can afford the juice, just take the Barty moneyline. I will be on Barty -3.5 games at -110, but with a dominant serve like Pliskova’s, I don’t feel great about that spread, especially since she’s never beaten the Czech in straights. Barty winning Wimbledon feels inevitable, and barring a meltdown—or a stupendous Pliskova performance—she will likely lift her second Grand Slam singles trophy on Saturday.
Novak Djokovic vs. Matteo Berrettini
In a rematch of June's Roland Garros quarterfinal, the huge-hitting Berrettini will look to avenge his four-set defeat to the Serbian and deny him his record-equalling 20th major title.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Djokovic opened as a -500 favorite and projected to win by five games, but that is obviously subject to change, depending on where the money is flowing.
The Italian has yet to lose a match on grass courts this season (11-0), and with his serve and forehand, he has a puncher’s chance against anyone. But it’s difficult to think of a worse matchup for his backhand-averse game than Djokovic.
First off, Berrettini’s greatest strength—his serve—will be negated by arguably the greatest shot in tennis history, the Djokovic return. After racking up 32 aces in his last two rounds, Denis Shapovalov mustered just five on Friday. It goes without saying that Berrettini will need one of his best-ever serving days to pull the upset.
But when Djokovic inevitably returns Berrettini's serve and begins the rally, things get tricky. Berrettini is caught between a rock and a hard place, as he’ll need to hit as many forehands as possible without giving up too much of the deuce court. If you put a nickel anywhere on the court and give Djokovic a clean look at a backhand, he’ll hit it.
Djokovic can struggle when forced to create his own pace, but luckily for him, the No. 7 seed is one of the game’s hardest hitters. If Berrettini attacks the Serb’s backhand, and doesn’t win the point or force a defensive slice, Djokovic will slide into his open-stance backhand and yank the ball short and crosscourt, opening up Berrettini's forehand corner. That is also bad news for Berrettini. If anyone has played an opponent with an unstoppable forehand, you should know that you must first attack that side in order to open up their backhand wing.
But let’s say Berretini’s slice backhand is proving effective and he’s painting lines with his forehand. What now? Mind you, the top seed has handled the Roger Federer slice on Centre Court on three different occasions. If that’s the case, Djokovic will utilize his not-so-secret weapon, the drop shot.
None of this is to say a Berrettini win is out of the question. Anything is possible with a big enough serve and forehand, but every aspect of the world No. 1’s game is perfectly suited to beat an opponent like him.
I can’t, in good conscience, recommend a bet for this match, but I do believe Berrettini matches up better on clay than he does on grass. For prediction’s sake, we’ll go with greatness and take Djokovic to cover his five game spread.
The Pick: Novak Djokovic -5 games