Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Djokovic return Game the key to Clay Success

Novak Djokovic has always been known for his ability to return even the world’s fastest serves with consummate ease and last weekend this gift proved the difference between winning and losing yet again.

Facing Rafael Nadal in the final of a tournament the Spaniard has won eight times before must be a daunting task but when you’ve got a return master at the other end of the court the balance of power evens somewhat.

This is what fans betting Betfair enjoyed on Sunday afternoon as Nadal and Djokovic clashed for the Monte Carlo Masters final and few of us expected the result we witnessed.

Djokovic was simply too dominant for the Spaniard and bounded to a 5-0 first-set lead before taking the opener 6-2. Although Nadal fought back hard to force a second-set tie-break, Djokovic’s dominance on single points proved the difference between the pair as he won the second and the championship on a 7-1 mini set.

What gave Djokovic the edge on Sunday was his ability to return serve and if he keeps this up he is the logical choice to win the French Open later next month.

Djokovic only made 62% of his first serves compared to Nadal’s 72%, yet the Serb won 63% of his first serve points, while Nadal only won 55% of his.

So, despite having a better serve Nadal failed to make it count, and this was because Djokovic is the master at retuning.

His reaction to serves is second to none and because he possesses at 6ft 2” frame he can stretch across the court in a flash and excavate those impossible balls. The 2013 Australian Open champion won 40/78 return points to Nadal’s 23/61 and that is where the pair differed.

If Nadal is to win the Roland Garros crown he must improve his return game or find an extra 10mph in his serves. That is unlikely to happen and so betting fans should back Djokovic to win the clay slam this summer.

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