Match Preview: Novak Djokovic v Vasek Pospisil

Novak Djokovic is kicking off his grass court season today and he is up against the big serving Pospisil which is a potential upset. Novak Djokovic is the favourite heading into the match by quite a large margin but I wouldn’t read to much into the odds.

Recent Form

Novak Djokovic hasn’t been playing as well as he was last year but he has still been having solid results. His first clay court event was in Monte Carlo and he got two matches before falling to David Goffin in a three set match in the quarterfinals. He then moved on to Madrid where he reached the semifinals of the Masters event in the Spanish city with wins over Feliciano Lopez and Kei Nishikori before falling to eventual champion Rafael Nadal. Two weeks before the French Open he reached the final of the Masters event in Rome with wins over Juan Martin del Potro and Dominic Thiem before falling to Alexander Zverev in the final. At the French Open he played a couple tough matches before going down in the quarterfinals to Dominic Thiem in straight sets. Vasek Pospisil didn’t play any ATP clay court events but instead played six challenger tournaments in South America and Asia. His best result in the challengers was a win at a tournament in Busan, South Korea in a week where he didn’t drop a set and got a win over Tatsuma Ito. In his first grass court event he reached the quarterfinals of Hertogenbosch before falling to Marin Cilic. He qualified for Halle last week only to fall in the first round to Dustin Brown in a tight three set match.

Eastbourne Record

Novak Djokovic has never played this event before in his career because normally he doesn’t play a grass court tournament before Wimbledon. Vasek Pospisil is playing in this event for the second time with the last time he played being 2012 when he was 24 years old. He came through qualifying on that occasion and then fell in the first round to Ryan Harrison in a third set tiebreaker. Neither of these two will have too much memory playing in Eastbourne so it will take a couple of games for them to get used to the courts.

Head to Head Record

Djokovic and Pospisil have played each other four times before but they have never played each other of grass. Their first meeting came on the clay in the 2013 Davis Cup which Djokovic ended up winning 6-2, 6-0, 6-4. This was a very dominant performance but it would have something to do with Pospisil not being able to play on clay very well and Djokovic’s high spirit and fight when he plays for his nation. Their previous three meeting have been on hard courts at the 2014 Beijing event which Djokovic won 6-3, 7-5 then at 2015 Dubai event which Djokovic won 6-4, 6-4 and at the 2016 Shanghai event which Djokovic won 6-4, 6-4. Even though Pospisil has never taken a set of the Serbian he has still been able to push him in a number of the sets. I think that Pospisil will feel a but disheartened heading in to the match because he has never taken a set off Djokovic and that might hamper him if the sets gets tight giving him oppurtunities.

Prediction

I think that Djokovic won’t be playing his best tennis in this match and Pospisil will be serving really well against him. I think the first set will be a highly competitive affair and neither player will have many break points at all on the way to a tiebreaker. I think the tiebreaker will go longer than most tiebreakers and both players might even have set points. In the end I think Pospisil will start to tense up and Djokovic’s relentless returning will prove to much as the Serbian will take the tight first set. I think the second set will start in a similar fashion with no breaks until around 5-5 in the set. In the end I think Pospisil will get tight while serving to stay in the match and the world number 2 will close out the 7-6, 7-5 victory to capture his first grass court win of the season.

 

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