Roland Garros 2021: Novak Djokovic vs Tennys Sandgren preview, head-to-head & prediction

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic

Match details

Fixture: (1) Novak Djokovic vs Tennys Sandgren

Date: 1 June 2021

Tournament: Roland Garros 2021

Round: First round (Round of 128)

Venue: Paris, France

Category: Grand Slam

Surface: Red Clay

Prize Money: €17,171,108

Match timing: Not before 9 pm local time, 7 pm GMT, 3 pm EST, 12.30 am IST

Live telecast: USA - NBC Sports / Tennis Channel | UK - ITV | India - Star Sports / Disney+ Hotstar VIP

Novak Djokovic vs Tennys Sandgren preview

Despite the fact that Novak Djokovic is into his mid-30s, he remains a fearsome force on his statistically weakest surface.

A World No. 1 is supposed to be the favorite at whichever tournament he enters - more so when he has won 18 Grand Slams. But Rafael Nadal's exploits at Roland Garros would offer little respect for that claim. The Spaniard has made a living off beating the best players in the world on his beloved red clay.

But given Djokovic's recent form, is he too far from being touted as the man to beat?

The Serb enters Roland Garros on the back of a title-winning run at Belgrade. Given the field he had to face, that might not seem too impressive. But prior to that he had also reached the final of the Rome Masters, where he lost to Nadal himself.

That defeat was a victory in many ways. A rain-impacted schedule had forced Djokovic to spend nearly five hours over two matches on the penultimate day, while Nadal had only used up a tad over one hour. In spite of that handicap, Djokovic pushed his adversary all the way in the final.

The recently turned 34-year-old opens his bid for a second French Open title with a 20-3 win-loss record for the year, and a 11-3 return on clay. He has won two titles in 2021 - the Australian Open and the Belgrade Open.

On the other side of the net, we have Tennys Sandgren. If his world ranking of 66 wasn't big enough a gulf, his race ranking of 206 distances him even more from his opponent. The 29-year-old American has little to show for in 2021.

Tennys Sandgren
Tennys Sandgren

In fact, since squandering seven match points against Roger Federer at the 2020 Australian Open, Sandgren has barely got any momentum going. Sandgren has appeared in the main draw of 17 tournaments over the last one year and lost in the first round at 12 of them, including at Belgrade last week.

Like Djokovic, clay is Sandgren's weakest surface too. But while the former wins around 80% of his matches, the latter wins only 31% of his.

Sandgren has amassed a 3-7 win-loss record this season. On clay, that number reads 1-3.

Novak Djokovic vs Tennys Sandgren head-to-head

Novak Djokovic and Tennys Sandgren have met thrice on tour - twice on hardcourt and once on grass. And Djokovic has won all of those encounters, thus leading the head-to-head against Sandgren by a margin of 3-0.

The American has won a solitary set in the three matches combined - at the 2018 US Open.

Novak Djokovic vs Tennys Sandgren prediction

We have used the Elo ratings provided by Tennis Abstract to generate a tournament forecast. Novak Djokovic's adjusted clay Elo is 2054 while Tennys Sandgren's is 1600. The difference in their scores equates to a win probability of 93.17% for Djokovic.

The Serb is expected to win around 67% of his service points, while Sandgren is expected to win around 57% of his.

Prediction: Novak Djokovic to win in straight sets, for the loss of eight games.

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Edited by Musab Abid
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