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2019 Madrid Masters Final: Novak Djokovic vs Stefanos Tsitsipas, Preview and Prediction

Modified 20 Dec 2019, 23:01 IST

Mutua Madrid Open - Day Eight
Mutua Madrid Open - Day Eight

After yet another shock defeat for Rafael Nadal on clay, the top seed Novak Djokovic will take on fast-rising Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas, in the summit clash.

This is only the second match between the two, and it is actually the youngster who has won their only previous match, at the Rogers Cup last year. With this spectacular win over Nadal, he has now the distinction of defeating the big three of modern tennis at least once at such a young age, where experienced veterans on the tour have spent a lifetime to crack the code of getting past the big three!

This win for Tsitsipas should rank very high on the list of his achievements. It is not just the fact that he defeated Nadal, but defeated the king of clay on clay – perhaps the most difficult task for any player on the tour.

If we look at the match stats from the match between Nadal and Tsitsipas, we shall see that the Greek actually won less points than the Spaniard and had a very low percentage of second serve point wins. But statistics can be misleading in getting a true picture of the high quality entertainment this match provided.

The intensity and passion with which both played and the way the crowd got involved, for instance when Nadal made his seemingly match-turning recovery act by winning four straight games in the second act or when he saved match points with some incredible shots, can hardly be described in words. The match proved another reminder that Tsitsipas has come of age, and would not crack under pressure, unlike many youngsters of his age.

But he would certainly like to improve his serve, especially the second serve, against Djokovic, who is arguably the best returner in the game. After a strange spate of poor form, post the Australian Open, the Serbian seems to have found his mojo just in the nick of time, before the French Open.

His straight-sets, though not straight-forward, win over the most in-form player on clay right now – Dominic Thiem – must have put to rest any concerns about the Serbian’s form. He was not at his best, for sure, but he showed his resilient self by coming back from a break down in both sets, and winning the clutch moments.

On both previous occasions, when Tsitsipas defeated a member of the big three in a tournament, he fell to another member of the big three soon after. At the Rogers Cup, he defeated Djokovic only to lose to Nadal in the finals. At the Australian Open, he lost to Nadal again after getting past Roger Federer. Now, can he back up his win over Nadal with another big three scalp in the finals? It’s possible, but as history suggests, it’s a very tough task.

Prediction: Novak Djokovic to win in Three Sets

Published 12 May 2019, 12:23 IST
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