ATP Wimbledon Semifinals Betting Preview: Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal
© Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
- Novak Djokovic opened as a slight favorite ahead of a Wimbledon semifinal showdown against Rafael Nadal.
- This will mark the 52nd time the two have met on Tour.
- Djokovic leads the head-to-head 26-25, but Nadal has taken the past two and two of three on grass.
In this preview, we’ll take a look at the second semifinal match — featuring rivals Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic — who have won a combined 29 Grand Slams.
Over the years, Rafa and Djokovic have always played tight matches. Although Rafa has won their two most recent meetings, Novak won 11 of the previous 12 encounters. Interestingly, all nine of their matches since 2015 have been decided in straight sets.
The two have met 13 previous times at a Slam, with Nadal owning an 8-5 head-to-head record. However, Djokovic has won five of their eight meetings if you exclude the French Open.
As the line indicates, this match will be tough to call — especially since they haven’t met on a grass court since Wimbledon 2011. Novak won that match in four sets.
On Friday, the two will meet again at Wimbledon — battling it out for a spot in the final. Let’s take a closer look from a betting perspective.
Novak Djokovic (-111) vs. Rafa Nadal (-103) | O/U: 41
Where: Centre Court
When: Not before 10 a.m. ET
H2H: Djokovic leads 26-25 (Nadal 2-1 on grass)
Outside the past year and a half — when Novak really struggled — the Serbian certainly had the edge against Nadal on quicker surfaces. In fact, Rafa hasn’t gotten the better of Djokovic outside of a clay court since Nadal’s victory at the 2013 U.S. Open.
However, Nadal struggled with his game between 2014-16 when he dealt with a multitude of physical issues and a lack of confidence. The Spaniard has had no such problems this year, and I expect a much more attack-oriented Nadal on Friday. Rafa has looked comfortable — and confident, from a ball-striking perspective — on the grass thus far at Wimbledon. I simply don’t see the surface hindering him all that much in this match.
Odds-wise, layers priced Djokovic as a very slight favorite. I think a large reason for that has to do with how well Djokovic has fared, historically, on grass (and quicker courts in general) compared to Rafa. But in terms of this present tournament, I’m not sure Djokovic has had a more impressive path than Nadal.
Many have said Djokovic is officially “back,” but he certainly hasn’t looked as invincible as he did during his peak from 2014-2016. Novak easily won his first two matches of the tourney against cupcakes in Tennys Sandgren and Horacio Zeballos, but he dropped sets to the only two decent players he faced in Kyle Edmund and Kei Nishikori (Karen Khachanov, at this point in his career, is still “iffy” on grass).
Nadal, on the other hand, has looked more convincing throughout the tourney to me. He didn’t drop a set until the quarterfinals against Juan Martin del Potro in a match he pulled out in impressive fashion from down two sets to one. That battle was a chess match — and Nadal won it more between the ears than between the lines.
Nadal made all the right tactical moves — even serving and volleying in the fourth and fifth sets. And considering the number of times he’s faced Djokovic, I expect Nadal to hit the proverbial drawing board to come up with more tactical adjustments.
I get the feeling that Nadal will make Djokovic win this match on his own racket. That could spell trouble for the Serb, who’s still working his way back to form — in regards to both his game and confidence.
The one thing that worries me about Nadal was the number of short balls he started hitting in the latter portion of his match against del Potro. I’m not sure if he was purely trying to avoid giving Delpo much pace to work with or if he genuinely was struggling to hit deep groundstrokes. Either way, I certainly noticed that potentially troubling sign as the match wore on.
That said, if there’s anyone on Tour who can recover from a grueling five-set match in time for another potential war, it’s Nadal.
At odds-against, I’ll side with Rafa — whom I make a slight favorite. I said before the tournament that he was going to win Wimbledon this year, and I’m sticking to my guns. Over the past two years (during Novak’s temporary downfall), the Serb struggled to battle back in matches when facing adversity. We know that Nadal will play relentlessly — and if he comes out and hits Djoker in the mouth early, I’m not sure the Serb will have the willpower to dig in and throw hands in a scrappy, physical battle.
At -101, the value is with Rafita.
Bet to Watch: Rafael Nadal -101