Novak Djokovic vs. Matteo Berrettini Odds, Picks, Predictions: 2021 French Open Quarterfinal Preview
Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images. Pictured: Novak Djokovic.
- Novak Djokovic looks to fend off up-and-comer Matteo Berrettini at Roland Garros on Wednesday after (2 p.m. ET, Tennis Channel).
- Clay is not Djokovic's preferred surface, while Berrettini's game translated well to it.
- Kenny Ducey breaks down how bettors can find value in this quarterfinal matchup at the French Open.
Novak Djokovic vs. Matteo Berrettini Odds
|Time||Wednesday, 2 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Tuesday and via DraftKings|
Novak Djokovic is on a quest to win just his second French Open title, but the competition is about to get gruesome. If he thought teenager Lorenzo Musetti was difficult in the Round of 16, he is going to have his hands full with Matteo Berrettini, a former Grand Slam finalist who’s captured multiple clay-court titles.
Could the big serve and forehand of the Italian push Djokovic to the brink? Let’s look into this matchup a bit deeper to solve that question.
Djokovic Getting by on Clay
It’s hard to find a flaw in the game of Djokovic, who may one day go down as the greatest men’s tennis player of all-time, but if you had to nitpick, you’d probably look at his play on clay courts. Not only has he won around 81% of his matches on the surface, compared to 84% on hardcourts, he’s only been able to capture the French Open once, thanks in large part to Rafael Nadal’s dominance.
Djokovic has had what could be best described as a weird year on the clay. He’s gone 15-3, but many of those wins aren’t really worth rating. He was stunned by a relatively poor clay court player in Dan Evans at Monte Carlo, and weeks later lost to Aslan Karatsev at his home country.
It wasn’t until he played a second tournament in Belgrade that he could finally capture the title against a field that was significantly worse than it was in his first attempt. Before that title, he was railroaded by Nadal in the third set in Rome for his other loss.
The World No. 1 displayed why he’s still nearly unbeatable regardless of the surface in the last round, firing back against Musetti with two (and a half) sets of brilliance.
For the first two stanzas, Djokovic was simply pushing the ball back, which is how he tends to play clay court tennis at times. That’s the type of strategy that’s worked so well for guys like Daniil Medvedev, Nick Kyrgios and Adrian Mannarino on hardcourts, which is why Novak is unstoppable come hardcourt season. That said, none of those guys are any good on this surface.
Bottom line: Djokovic is formidable, but certainly not unbeatable on a clay court.
Berrettini’s Rise Back on Track
It’s been a couple of years since we truly got excited about the young Italian, but the time to get back on the Berrettini bandwagon is now.
After a summer which took him to the semifinal of the U.S. Open in 2019 and to the ATP Finals later that year, injuries and a long layoff due to the pandemic slowed Berrettini’s rapid rise.
Well, he’s back, and he’s reminding us all of how good he can be on a clay court. After all, Berrettini’s rise included multiple titles on the clay in 2018 and ’19. His huge serve certainly plays up on hardcourts and grass, but his expert placement and serve-plus-one with his massive forehand makes him just as good on a clay court. Berrettini has been finding great depth, which is key to playing on clay and should be well-rested on top of having the physical talent.
Berrettini has the benefit of coming off a walkover in the last round with Roger Federer pulling out of the tournament, giving him an edge in energy over Djokovic in addition to an edge in his service. I’m particularly interested to see Berrettini’s extremely harsh backhand slice react with Novak’s slow, exaggerated forehand.
I’m suspecting Berrettini could get plenty of short, high balls to punish away and punch the World No. 1 in the mouth early.
Novak Djokovic vs. Matteo Berrettini Pick
As just mentioned, I think the playing styles of these two players could create a world of trouble for Djokovic. He’s a fantastic counterpuncher, sure, but above all else, he’s a problem solver. We have seen Novak fall into a deep hole in big matches time and time again, and time and time again he’s passed the test with flying colors.
I’m thinking Djokovic comes out flat here, or with a gameplan that simply doesn’t work against a player with the pure power of Berrettini. I expect him to eventually find a way through, but the key here will be the nearly unreturnable serve of the Italian. Protecting his serve like he does should prevent him from getting broken more than three or four times in this one, and with that the game spread seems like a good bet.
Pick: Berrettini +6.5 (-103)