Shane Lambert previews the French Open Men's Singles Semi Final and he thinks Dominic Thiem can give Novak Djokovic a huge contest as the latter tries to win Career Grand Slam.
Dominic Thiem takes a 0-2 record against Novak Djokovic into their semi-final match-up at the 2016 French Open. The two players met earlier this year in Miami with Djokovic winning 6-3, 6-4. The Serb won by the same line score in a match that was played in the 2014 season. But the semi-finals from Roland Garros 2016 marks the first time that the two will meet on clay - Thiem's best surface. Perhaps that means that the Austrian will be more into the match than he has been in previous contests against the current World No. 1.
Djokovic enters the match with a career Grand Slam within sight once again. A win in the semis followed by a win in the French Open final and Djokovic will have won each major at least one time. If he loses in the days ahead then it's another long year before he gets back to Paris with his 30th birthday to come in the meantime.
Thiem enters the French Open semis as the new kid on the block, the 22 year old having never made a Grand Slam semi-final until the currently-running Grand Slam in Paris. He looks like a future World No. 1 player to me, but the question heading into the semi-finals is if he is ready right now to start a charge toward that height or if Djokovic will make him wait.
My answer is that Thiem is definitely ready from a mental point of view. I don't think the setting will intimidate him at all and that he'll just go out there and play his game. However, that game definitely has some wrinkles in it still.
That said this match isn't the one-sided contest that the betting odds suggest. Djokovic is coming in at 1/9 with 888Sport, odds that seem to ignore Djokovic's history at the event. There would be nothing all that surprising with a Serb loss in the semi-finals at Roland Garros. Let's not forget about Philipp Kohlscreiber in 2009 and Jurgen Melzer in 2010 - two players, that are clearly worse at tennis than Thiem, who beat Djokovic at the French Open. Let's also not forget about Roger Federer ending Djokovic's undefeated season in the French Open semis in 2011. Lastly, let's not forget that Djokovic was about 1/9 to beat Stan Wawrinka in the French Open final last year.
I've only got the Serb at about 1/3 as a favourite in this match in terms of true odds. Conversely, anything longer than 3/1 on Thiem is good to go, odds that are generally available (i.e. bet365 offer 7/1).
Game handicaps is the way to go for those that want some safety. 888Sport offer 5/4 with 6.5 helpers for Thiem and that looks like a great betting line in my view. I also like bet365 offering 6/5 on an OVER line for total sets at 3.5.
Thiem is generally under-rated in all markets right now with really long odds available for Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Aussie. Tennis punters should sprinkle his long odds as he could be buzzing around the late rounds of Slams in many majors to come.
1.5-pt bet on Thiem to beat Djokovic at 7/1 with bet365
3-pt bet on Thiem's handicap for games at +6.5 at 5/4 with 888Sport
2-pt bet on the OVER line for 3.5 sets to be played at 6/5 with bet365