Djokovic vs Berdych by Rostick
Needless to say that Djokovic has been brilliant this season. The Serbian player is looking close to his 2011 form, when he started the year with 41 consecutive wins. This year he lost to Karlovic in Doha, but won the Australian Open in convincing fashion and played some breathtaking tennis here in Dubai. Yes, he did not meet quality opponents, but he played flawless tennis, losing just 13 games to Pospisil, Golubev and Ilhan, playing better and better as the tournament progressed – excellent serving (just 1 break conceded) and virtually no unforced errors.
Berdych looks to be in top shape this season, regularly blowing opponents off the court and posting a 13-3 win-loss record to start the season. Clearly an improvement compared to 2014, but the worrying fact is that Tomas lost (and lost rather clearly) every time he met a top class opponent – Ferrer, Murray and Wawrinka. He did beat Nadal, but that was his only Top 15 win and we know Nadal is very far away from his best. The feeling is that Tomas is in his best form, but does not have what it takes anymore to beat in-form, Top 10 players. In addition to this, he also lowered his overall level of tennis here in Dubai, beating Chardy, Bolelli and Stakhovsky in hard fought matches and losing a set to the last two.
Djokovic leads the Head 2 Head 17-2 (!!) and 15-0 on hard courts. He did not lose a set in his last 5 wins. It`s well known that Djokovic is an impossible opponent for Tomas – Berdych just can`t counter Djokovic’s style and this matchup is one of those in which the Head 2 Head has a huge impact.
I can`t see Berdych challenging Nole today. The Serbian has been excellent since the Australian Open, while Berdych struggled against the top guys and did not play particularly well here in Dubai. The Head 2 Head is also a huge factor and will have a massive impact on Berdych`s inability to play his best tennis. I expect Nole to break down Berdych`s serve and forehands with his consistent, error-free baseline game and one break per set should be well within Nole`s reach. If things go his way, we could even see one of those traditional blowouts, with Berdych barely winning 2-3 games.
My tip is Novak Djokovic to win with a -5 game handicap. It seems like in the worst case scenario he should still be able to get one extra break per set. Prediction: Novak Djokovic – Tomas Berdych 6-1 6-4.
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