ATP Tennis Betting: Djokovic could face a challenge from confident Shapovalov in Paris final

November 3, 2019

Saturday’s events at the Paris Masters were a tad frustrating to say the least, with our bet being voided when Rafael Nadal pulled out, which meant that the player I opted not to back in Q3 got a walkover to the final.

I said in my tournament preview that the one I was toying with in quarter three was Denis Shapovalov and that if he could find the sort of serving form that we saw in the Stockholm final he’ll be hard to stop.

So, having skipped that 80-1 shot, he gets a walkover to the final, but it could have been much worse, as he looks to have somewhat of a mountain to climb in the final against Novak Djokovic.

Nadal’s withdrawal, due to an abdominal injury he incurred in practice on Saturday, means that Djokovic has closed the gap on Nadal at the top of the rankings and surely the Serb will be highly motivated to take this title on Sunday.

For one, it’ll give him another 400 points to move within 700 of Nadal at the top of the rankings and with Nadal – as he often does – struggling with fitness at this stage of the season Djokovic will be eying up that year-end top position.

Secondly, he’ll surely not want a repeat of 12 months ago here, when he was beaten quite comfortably really in the final by Karen Khachanov as a 1.20 chance.

Djokovic will start this one even shorter than that at around the 1.12 mark and that does seem short given the improvements that Shapovalov has made – mainly in confidence – since losing three times to Djokovic this season.

Even though his last loss to the Serb was only three weeks ago in Shanghai, the very next week afterwards Shapovalov won the title in Stockholm to really relieve the pressure of his numerous failures at the business end of tournaments.

The other issue that would concern me with Djokovic is his health, with Goran Ivanisevic saying: “First match he was not good. But luckily he was better against Edmund. He is not 100 percent, but he’s winning the matches and that is the important thing.”

Djokovic wasn’t in the best of condition in last year’s Paris Masters final either and it contributed to him losing in straights to an opponent he’d put away comfortably 3-0 at Wimbledon four months earlier in Khachanov.

So, it’s not impossible that the same could happen again, with Djokovic having dismissed the Canadian in Shanghai and on clay in Rome and in four sets (one a bagel) in Melbourne this year.

Shapo did beat Djokovic in an exhibition on grass this summer, but in a M1000 final with Djokovic keen to grab the ranking points ahead of the Tour Finals it’s a very different kettle of fish.

The stats tell a story of this match-up, with Shapo’s fairly weak return game not being able to do any real damage on the Djokovic serve, with Djokovic holding 91.3% of the time against Shapovalov.

And the superb return game of the Serb has seen him break Shapo a massive 43.5% of the time, while winning 61.8% of his second serve points in this match up compared to Shapo’s 37.5%.

So, there’s a massive gap there, but so there was last year with Khachanov, and if Djokovic is still feeling below par it’s very possible that Shapo can make this closer than their recent matches.

Cleary, the Canadian is much more confident now and serving much better than ever before, and he’ll simply have to go for broke here, unlikely to match Djokovic in long rallies of consistency.

His only hope you feel is in set one, where Djokovic could easily have dropped that to Grigor Dimitrov yesterday, with Dimitrov leading 5-3 in their opening set tie break.

Indeed, Djokovic won only four points more in total than Dimitrov on Saturday and that should give Shapovalov some hope here.

The last lefty to beat Djokovic (other than Nadal) on a hard court  was Michael Llodra here in Paris in 2010 as 4.55 chance and Llodra didn’t win any of the other seven sets that he contested against Djokovic in his career.

It doesn’t look a good match-up at all for Shapo against a fully fit Djokovic, but at this stage of the season and with possible health issues to think about, plus the much-improved confidence of the Canadian I’ll take him to make it closer than he has done before.

The over 21.5 games at 1.94 looks the bet in this one and that’s all from me now until the Tour Finals, which will my last event of the season.


Best Bet


0.5 points win over 21.5 games at 1.94