Fine Swine: ATP Shanghai SF Preview – Djokovic vs. Murray

<> at Qi Zhong Tennis Centre on October 16, 2015 in Shanghai, China.

Djokovic Looks For His 16th Straight Win
Photo: Getty Images



Andy Murray looks to make it two straight against Novak Djokvovic. Murray broke a four match losing streak to Djokovic earlier this season at the Rogers Cup in Montreal when he beat him 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in the fnal.

(1) Novak Djokovic vs. (3) Andy Murray
It is the 29th time that Djokovic and Murray will meet in their careers on Saturday in the Shanghai Masters semifinals. Djokovic carries a 15 match win streak with him that dates back to the U.S. Open. It has been mostly light work for the World #1 this week as the Serb has yet to drop a set through three matches. Bernard Tomic came the closest to taking a set this week in their quarterfinal match. The Aussie pushed Djokovic to a first set tie break, but it was Djokovic who fought through 8-6 and then predictably dismantled Tomic in the second set 6-1.So far this week, Djokovic has been broken just twice on serve while breaking his three opponents a dozen times. The top seed has seen double digit break point opportunities in each of his three matches.

Murray’s week has seen just a bit more drama to it, mostly because of John Isner. In their third round match, Murray was forced to rally from a set down as he withstood the big serve to win 6-7, 6-4, 6-4. Murray did create 13 break chances in that match, cashing in on two of them. His other two matches were cake walks with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Steve Johnson to start his Shanghai campaign. He topped that with a 6-1, 6-3 whipping of fifth seed Tomas Berdych in Friday’s quarterfinals. Murray has scored ten breaks of serve in his three matches this week. He has saved 12 of 13 break chances against his own serve in that span.

The gap between Novak Djokovic and the field is ludicrous. Going into this week of play, Djokovic stood in the #1 spot with 15,785 points. That is more than 7,000 better than Andy Murray who is in second with 8,640. Just let that sink in for a minute. Hell, let’s put it into another perspective to blow your mind. Djokovic has as many points this season as the current crop that occupies spots seven through ten in the rankings; Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Milos Raonic and Kevin Anderson. It’s absurd and probably under appreciated just what a dominant season he is having. Djokovic has lost five matches all season. Five. Federer has done it twice along with Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Ivo Karlovic beating him once each.

At Masters level events, Djokovic is 29-2 this year. The two losses, Andy Murray at the Rogers Cup and Roger Federer at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. He has made seven straight Masters Finals with the last tournament he failed to make the Final being this one. That came at the hands of Roger Federer. Maybe that is a silver lining for Murray heading into this semifinal showdown. It could also be the kiss of death with Djokovic likely to be hell bent on getting his hands back on the trophy in Shanghai. These two historically have the best records at this event now with Djokovic at 22-3 with two titles and Murray at 19-2 with two titles. It is a rubber match of sorts as the winner will be favored pretty heavily to take home their third Shanghai title over the winner of the Rafael Nadal vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga semifinal.

So what does Andy Murray need to do to make it two straight against Novak Djokovic? He will need to crack the Djokovic serve as he did when they met in Montreal. The Scot worked 19 break chances against the Serb at the Rogers Cup, breaking him four times. Murray was able to save 11 of 14 break chances on his own serve. That is usually a key point when these two meet every time. Who fights harder for those key points to convert or stave off a break of serve? The battle will come from the baseline and that is where Murray was able to dictate play better in Montreal. That is difficult to do against a player with the speed, agility and prowess from both the forehand and backhand side like Djokovic.

This is the sixth meeting between these two this season, so there are no SABR’s to spring on one another at this point. Djokovic is 4-1 with three of the wins coming on outdoor hard courts at the Australian Open, Indian Wells Masters and Miami Masters. Shanghai brings more speed with it as one of the faster hard court surfaces on tour each year. That should play just a bit more into Djokovic’s game as he has the better offensive weapons to utilize that court speed. Murray would probably be best served on a little slower surface where he could prolong the points better and try to work Djokovic into errors. That being said, Murray is not a sure fire win for Djokovic on Saturday. Expect another tight match with some roller coaster swings and likely three sets. Barring a near perfect game from Murray or a subpar effort from Djokovic, expect the top seed to win in the end.

Prediction
Djokovic wins in three sets.

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