Sunday, June 5 from 11pm at Roland Garros, Paris, France – watch on Fox Sports
WE’VE finally reached the crescendo of the 2016 French Open and a couple of familiar Grand Slam faces will again battle it out for one of tennis’ most coveted prizes.
Novak Djokovic was the short-priced favourite at the beginning of the tournament, but there were a few doubts as to whether the Serbian could claim the elusive French Open crown that would complete his career Grand Slam after several atypical lacklustre performances.
Any doubts were allayed in the semi-final against Dominick Thiem – dropping just seven games en route to his third consecutive French Open final.
The man he will meet is regular Grand Slam final combatant, Andy Murray.
The world number two was on the third line of betting pre-tournament, but bookmakers still offered double figures on his title chances due to his poor record on clay.
The Scot has been in sensational form throughout the French Open, but he saved his best match for the penultimate stage of the tournament, eliminating last year’s champion Stan Wawrinka in four sets of riveting tennis.
Murray said it took one of his all-time best efforts on clay to move past the Swiss defending champion.
“I knew today if I wanted to win I was going to have to play one of my best clay court matches,” Murray said.
“Stan’s record here is unbelievable.
“I played one of my best claycourt matches today and I’m looking forward to the final now.
“I’m extremely proud, I never expected to reach the final here.”
Murray said after his semi-final win that he is in career-best clay court form.
“At the beginning of my career it was always a big struggle for me,” Murray told BBC Radio 5 live.
“When I was having problems with my back on clay I never thought it would happen for me here.
“Reaching the French Open final is definitely not something I thought I’d do,”
“Last year I started to have the belief that I could do it. It’s great credit to my team to get my body healthy.”
The Sunday encounter will be the 17th time the pair have met in an ATP tour final; where Djokovic leads 9-7, but the Djoker has dominated Murray more recently, winning 12 of the last 14 matches between the two.
This will be the sixth time Djokovic and Murray have met on clay – a surface that the Serbian has enjoyed the most success over the Scot, winning four of their five meetings.
Murray said it will be an enormous challenge to defeat the Djoker in the French Open final.
“I don’t know who the conditions will suit, Novak plays well on all the courts,” said Murray.
“It probably means there will be long rallies, you have to be patient in these conditions. It’s not easy to hit winners.
“I’m sure it’s going to be a final with a lot of emotions and exchanges from the baseline because we have a similar style of game,” he said.
“I know his game, he knows mine – I’m sure we’ll both give it our all.”
Djokovic to complete the career Grand Slam?
Winner: Novak Djokovic – $1.33 @ Sportsbet.com.au
Set betting: Novak Djokovic 3-0 – $2.60
Player to win at least one set: Andy Murray, no – $2.60 @ Sportsbet.com.au
Has the time finally come for Djokovic to salute at Roland Garros?
For three straight years the Serbian has stumbled at the final hurdle in the French capital, but the world number one would have breathed a sigh of relief after seeing that the man he has dominated in recent times made it through to the final, rather than the man that toppled him last year, Stan Wawrinka.
Murray’s lead-in form has been exceptional and any man that boasts multiple Grand Slam titles to their name will always be a threat but Djokovic’s superior record on clay over the Scot should hold him in great stead on Sunday.
We are expecting Djokovic to cruise into his first ever French Open title on Sunday evening, condemning Murray to his second-straight 2016 Grand Slam final loss while completing the career Grand Slam in the process.
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