Novak Djokovic’s pursuit of that fourth elusive major at Roland Garros could yet end in frustration this season provided Andy Murray can replicate the form that saw him storm to victory at the Madrid Masters last week.
The Scot’s straight sets victory over the reigning King of Clay, Rafael Nadal, was a significant one for any number of reasons.
Not only did it allow Murray to end his hoodoo against the Spaniard, with the 6-3, 6-2 win his first ever against Nadal on clay, but it was a resounding triumph and one that continued a fine run of form for the two-time Grand Slam winner.
Following on from victory in the final of the Munich Open against another home favourite in Philip Kohlschreiber, Murray produced another superb performance to secure a second clay court title in less than a week.
Prior to that victory in Germany, the Scot had failed to register a single ATP Tour tournament win on the surface – a sign that Amelie Mauresmo’s influence as coach is beginning to show.
These back-to-back tournament wins have also allowed Murray to steal some of the limelight from Djokovic, following his sensation start to 2015.
The undoubted form player of the year so far, the Serbian has already secured an Australian Open title as well as a hat-trick of Masters honours in Indian Wells, Miami and most recently Monte Carlo.
But despite these successes, Djokovic remains relatively untested on clay so far this season, having sat out of the Munich and Madrid tournaments.
A win at the Rome Masters this week would go some way to reasserting his dominance in the men’s game, but lose and Murray may just feel a little more optimistic about his chances.
The Scot may have only won nine of the 27 matches between the pair, but after taking sets in two of their last three encounters, there are still some small signs of improvement.
More importantly, the pair have played just twice against each other on clay to date, and it could be an entirely different story this time around, particularly after Murray’s Madrid masterclass and the nature of his win over Nadal.
The Scot is 4/7 with Ladbrokes to reach another Grand Slam final in 2015 and 2/1 to beat Djokovic in any one of the three remaining majors this year.
On current form, the second of those options may just be the one to back.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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