Stefanos Tsitsipas is the underdog against Novak Djokovic in Friday’s French Open semifinal. (Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire)
- Rafael Nadal remains the favorite to win the French Open men’s singles title at +105, but Novak Djokovic is right behind him at +125.
- In his 13th Grand Slam main draw, Stefanos Tsitsipas reaches his second career semifinal.
- Can Tsitsipas upset Djokovic in Friday’s semifinal? See odds, analysis, and our best bet below
Most are expecting top seeds Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal to meet for the 56th time in Sunday’s French Open men’s singles final.
However, given the drama and physical issues surrounding Djokovic’s quarterfinal against Pablo Carreño Busta on Wednesday, is that still a given?
Novak Djokovic vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas Odds
| Novak Djokovic (SRB)||-4.5 (-129)||-315||O 38.5 (-113)|
| Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)||+4.5 (+102)||+245||U 38.5 (-112)|
Odds taken Oct. 8 at DraftKings
Tsitsipas Doing the Expected
Tsitsipas’s path to the semis was cleared after the draw when he avoided the top three seeds as potential quarterfinal opponents. Instead, he got No. 4 Daniil Medvedev, who didn’t make it out of the first round.
His only hiccup was in his very first match against Jaume Muñar.
After playing the final at the Hamburg ATP Tour stop, Tsitsipas had to turn around two days later and play his first-round match in Paris.
He lost the first two sets against Jaume Muñar of Spain. Since then, Tsitsipas has won 15 consecutive sets. The Greek native is just 22-years-old. He’s as fresh as he can be at this stage.
Djokovic Physical Issues = Drama
During the warmup for his quarterfinal match, the 33-year-old Djokovic needed some treatment for a neck issue that also was an issue last month at the US Open.
Novak: My physio Miljan and the ATP doctor have been working on my neck for two hours. I have to admit, it was touch and go for a while, I was not sure whether I would be able to play.
Adds he had similiar situations in the past and believes he will recover for the SF. #RG20
— Saša Ozmo (@ozmo_sasa) October 7, 2020
The world No. 1 arrived on court Wednesday with a wide swath of tape up the right side of his neck.
He lost the first set, and his temper flared as he lashed out to his camp of supporters. He yelled at the ball kids to get him the balls more quickly.
Djokovic also needed on-court treatment on his left arm.
But unlike the drama in New York, Djokovic fashioned a better ending against Carreño Busta as he won going away, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4.
His physical situation improved with the adrenaline and once his body warmed up.
“I had some neck issues and some shoulder issues. I’ll just say that. I mean, I don’t want to get really too much into it. Obviously I’m still in the tournament, so I don’t want to reveal too much,” Djokovic told the media afterwards. “I’m feeling okay. I think, as I said, as the match progressed, I warmed up my body, and the pain kind of faded away.”
Look for Djokovic to start slowly again; those types of problems don’t magically disappear in 48 hours.
Still, Carreño Busta – not usually a controversial type – wasn’t buying it.
“Probably the last years he’s always doing this when he has problems on court. I don’t know, maybe it’s the pressure or something that he needs to do it,” he said after the loss. “But, I mean, he continues playing normal, no? I don’t know if he’s pain really or he has mental. Ask him.”
Call Djokovic’s physical state the wild card in this one.
Novak Djokovic vs Stefanos Tsitsipas Head to Head
|33 (May 22, 1987)||Age||22 (Aug. 12, 1998)|
|Belgrade, Serbia||Birthplace||Athens, Greece|
|81||ATP Singles Titles||5|
|17||Grand Slam Singles Titles||0|
|No. 1||Current Ranking||No. 6|
|No. 1 (July 4, 2011)||Career High Ranking||No. 5 (Aug. 5, 2019)|
|$144,159,599||Career Prize Money||$11,650,067|
Tsitsipas has More Tools to Trouble Djokovic
Tsitsipas will struggle to keep up with the maestro from the baseline. Yet, unlike Carreño Busta, he does have options. Despite being 6’4″, he’s swift enough to run down the drop shots that have been Djokovic’s stock shot this tournament.
Tsitsipas also has two wins in five previous meetings with Djokovic to draw upon, although in the best-of-three set format. The victories came on two of the faster hard-court surfaces in Montreal and Shanghai.
They have played just once on clay, in the Madrid final last year. Djokovic won 6-3, 6-4.
Djokovic Health the Wild Card
Tsitsipas is facing a world No. 1 at a Grand Slam for the first time. He has a 1-6 win-loss record against No. 1- ranked players on the ATP circuit (that one win was the one over Djokovic in Shanghai).
Unless the Serb comes on court visibly hampered and doesn’t improve the way he did against Carreño Busta, he should win.
Tsitsipas at +170 to win the first set is a good play. Djokovic to win in four sets (+270) is also a good bet.
Anything over 39.5 total games has odds in the plus. Even if the match is four close sets and doesn’t go the distance, that’s a winner.
Pick: Djokovic in Four Sets (+270)
Stephanie gets the straight dope from the tennis insiders. On court, she has represented her country internationally. A BA in journalism led to years on the MLB beat and a decade covering tennis globally. She’s written for Postmedia, the Guardian, the New York Times and also publishes OpenCourt.ca.