Australian Open Final: Five-setter unlikely for Nadal and Djokovic

Both are closely matched on ratings going into the last, writes Jack Houghton, but it does not necessarily mean we will see a drawn-out match…
Preparing the data for this particular side-market preview, it was a surprise to have to trawl back almost five years to locate the recorder that I used the previous time Djokovic and Nadal fulfilled in the final of a major: the 2014 French Open. That it has been so long says something about the increasing fragility of this duo, particularly the injury woes and personal strife that has seen both having extending intervals off the court in recent decades.
They are back, however, with Nadal, particularly, looking for imperious as when in his peak, showing hard-court form that many (myself included) assumed was beyond his brittle body’s capability. Which has meant that my assertion – which an outsider would mess the centenary celebrations of the Big Three – has not been borne out, regardless of the strong performance of pre-tournament 90.00-recommendation, Daniil Medvedev, that temporarily looked to trouble Djokovic within their last-16 experience.
Nothis year’s Australian Open title will go the way of their establishment and, although Djokovic is the slight favorite at 1.81 to Nadal’s 2.22, I’d struggle to separate both. They go into the closing boasting near-identical Elo scores according to my evaluations also, whilst Djokovic’s excellence raises on that front when filtering for hard-court matches just, which has to do with Nadal’s recent inability to progress over a few rounds on the tough stuff before retiring with injury than it does any playing inferiority. And, since Dan Weston asserts in his eponymous trailer (check it out, together with his forthcoming final preview, here), it’s Nadal who appears at the ascendency at Melbourne.
Most Aces – It is all about the price Given their pre-eminence in the last couple of decades, it is always startling to reflect on how few aces this duo serves, demonstrating how much the sport has changed since the 1990s, as it seemed as if big servers would eternally dominate the men’s game, except for a brief interlude during the clay court season, when some older men would have to play with a few more matches.
The ace count in their own matches is generally low and closely contested, but, to date, head-to-head, Djokovic has served more on 32 events, accounting for 63% of their aces. This last figure is a little skewed, though, by a few matches where Djokovic dominated the ace-race, like the mammoth five-setter semi-final at Wimbledon last year. It is well worth remembering that eight of the matches have observed the duo tie on ace count.
According to the data, Djokovic should most likely be about 1.56 to serve the most aces, which looks to be roughly where the market is settling. When the chances dropped as much as 1.40, though, I would be a layer, hoping for a repeat of this 2012 closing here, where Nadal won the ace-race by one.

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