World number One Novak Djokovic of Serbia and the new world number two Andy Murray of Scotland will clash for the fifth time this year as they battle in the final of the ATP 1000 event in Montreal, Canada for the Roger’s Cup. Both had easy passage into the final as they made short work of their opponents on Saturday. The Serb extended his perfect record against the Frenchman Jeremy Chardy to 10-0 as he ran away with a 6-4,6-4 win, while the Scott had a surprisingly easy 6-3,6-0 win over Kei Nishikori of Japan.
The 2007, 2011 and 2012 champion Djokovic needed just one break of serve in each set against the stylish Frenchman – who took 3 hours and 12 minutes to beat the American John Isner on Friday saving seven match points in the process. He will look to add to the six titles he has already won this year at Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo and Rome, apart from a fifth Australian Open title in Melbourne and a third Wimbledon crown in July.
Djokovic broke serve to start the opening set and then broke in the second set at 2-2 against the 49th ranked Frenchman extending his unbeaten run to 30 at ATP 1000 events and also aims to win a record tying fifth Super Series title in a season for the second time. In 2011, he won Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Rome and Montreal.
The 2009 and 2010 champion Murray was in devastating form against the in-form Nishikori as he reeled off eight consecutive games from 4-3 up in the first set against last week’s Washington D.C. champion in a match lasting just 65 minutes. The win ensures that he will return to the World number two ranking for the first time since August 2013 as he overtakes Roger Federer in the ATP rankings.
He extended his head to head record against Nishikori to 5-1 and it was his second win of the year against the World number four, having beaten him in the semi-final in Madrid, the week after Nishikori defended his Barcelona title. Earlier in May this year Murray won maiden titles on clay at Munich and Madrid, he also won on the grass of Queen’s club in London.
The last time Murray defeated Djokovic was in the final of Wimbledon 2013 when he became the first British player since Fred Perry in 1936 to win on the hallowed grass at the All England Lawn Tennis Club. Since then, Djokovic has been on an eight match winning streak but it has not been as one sided as it would suggest. Murray came back from a two set deficit at the French Open in Paris this year before falling in five sets in the semi-final.
Djokovic won the Australian Open Final in four sets after the pair split the first two sets in tie-breaks. He also won the Indian Wells semi-final in two straight sets but was extended to three sets in the final in Miami. Djokovic leads Murray 19-8. Both players have the added incentive of taking the outright lead in terms of matches won in 2015 as Djokovic has a 52-3 record for the year while Murray has a 52-8 mark for the year.
It would be safe to predict a fourth title for Djokovic but Murray is due for a win and current form definitely points to the 2013 Wimbledon Champion. After loosing in the first round last week in Washington D.C. to the Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili in tough three sets he has bounced back superbly to win all his four matches here in straight sets. Djokovic fortuitously escaped against the Latvian Ernest Gulbis saving two match points in the quarter-final, but a strong start from Murray might make it tough for even Djokovic to do his Houdini-act!
A win would be a fitting way to mark his return to the second position in the rankings and would go a long way towards sealing a second seeding at the U.S. Open starting August, 31st. It is now or never for the Scott and I back him to join Ivo Karlovic of Croatia, and the Swiss duo of Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka as the only players to beat Djokovic in 2015.
Prediction : Murray in three tight sets.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy.You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]