There is no stopping Novak Djokovic! The world number one who earlier this year did the Indian Wells-Miami double for an unprecedented third time is all set to complete a Beijing-Shanghai double for the third time. Djokovic who won this event in 2012 (d. Murray) and in 2013 (d. Del Potro) will have to beat the Frenchman Jo Wilfred Tsonga, the same player whom he beat to capture his maiden grand slam title in 2008 at the Australian Open in Melbourne.
The Serb was never troubled in his 6-1,6-3 rout of Andy Murray in the second semi-final and now, is in line for his fifth Masters title of the year following wins at Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo and Rome. He skipped the Madrid Masters and finished runner-up to Andy Murray in Montreal and to Roger Federer in Cincinnati. It will be his ninth consecutive Masters final. Djokovic has won eight titles this year including the Australian Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open. He has an astounding 71-5 record in 2015. Murray who will continue his stay at the world no. 2 ranking, fell to 64-11.
The sixteenth seeded Tsonga started strongly against the eight seeded Spaniard Rafael Nadal taking a 3-2 on his fifth break point having missed two chances to break in the opening game and then in the fifth game. He would hold on to that break to claim the first set 6-4, but Nadal completely dominated the second set breaking serve thrice to bagel the Frenchman and take the second set 6-0.
Tsonga finally held serve in the second game to stop a run of seven consecutive games. He then broke in eleventh game and held his own service to seal his fourth win in twelve meetings against the Spaniard 6-4,0-6,7-5. The win ensures that Tsonga will be ninth in the race to London while Nadal is now fifth.
Djokovic, Murray, Federer and Wawrinka have already qualified for the season ending ATP World Tour Finals in London November 15-22. Nadal and Berdych should join them next week with Nishikori and Ferrer comfortably placed to qualify but a strong finish in the remaining three weeks may see the Frenchman qualify for the eighth spot.
Tsonga could make a serious push to displace either Ferrer or Nishikori in London by continuing the good work he has put in this week. His first challenge, facing Djokovic tomorrow, should be as tough as any he will face during the rest of the season. Tsonga definitely has the firepower to trouble Djokovic, but he will need to summon his very best form given the way Djokovic has taken his domination to the next level in Asia, this past few weeks.
Djokovic leads the head to head between the two 13-6, but the last time the two played against each other in the round of sixteen in the Toronto Roger’s Cup Masters 1000 last year Tsonga triumphed 6-2,6-2 ending a run of nine consecutive losses to the Serb. Tsonga then went on to claim his maiden Masters title beating Roger Federer in the final. The final should be closely contested but it is hard to see Djokovic’s fifteen match winning streak come to an end.
Prediction : Djokovic in two tough sets or possibly three.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy.You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]