French Open

French Open Day 11 Tips: Djokovic on his last legs but must be backed at Evs

Djokovic winner
How does he do it? Djokovic is hanging on in Paris

After hobbling over the finishing line in his last match our tennis expert Gavin Mair is keeping a close eye on Novak Djokovic on day 11.

  • Serbian legend is surviving

  • Ruud yet to convince

  • Djokovic is a shark


Novak Djokovic's fourth round defeat of Francisco Cerundolo was one of the most absurd and impressive things I've ever watched while covering tennis.

It was absurd as for three sets Djokovic was barely moving and looked in a world of pain. He had the physio on court repeatedly to try and ease up his right knee. Nevertheless, he found a way to stay competitive.

It was impressive as not only did he compete but he actually won. Cerundolo had the match in the palm of his hands but suddenly there were forests where there were none before. Defeating Djokovic - even when he's limping - is no easy feat.

Understandably yet also surprisingly the most successful tennis player of all time has been priced at 1/12.00 to win his quarter-final match against Casper Ruud.

The cost of injury

In their previous six encounters Djokovic has not once gone off at more than the 1.51/2 mark, including in Monte Carlo this season. That was a match won by Ruud but it must be noted that Djokovic is never at peak fitness nor has adapted to clay when he arrives in Monaco.

Speaking ahead of that match Ruud described his chances as "David vs Goliath", which I feel gives a flavour of how he sees himself in that match-up.

Ahead of this match Ruud has said that he expects Djokovic to be fully fit. I doubt that Djokovic will be at his peak fitness but he has a day off on Tuesday and will be as physically ready as he can be.

Even without his best health Djokovic will not go down without a fight and it will be incredibly hard for Ruud to envisage the victory line. Come the fifth set against Cerundolo, Djokovic was moving better than at any stage of the match.

He's clearly feeling pain and is limited by it, but he found a way not only to compete but to win.

Ruud health

Despite being considered a challenger for this year's French Open I've yet to see a performance from Casper Ruud so far that warrants that billing.

Perhaps it will come against Djokovic but I have my doubts. The Norwegian is characteristically steady, a solid eight out of ten all rounder. But his performance levels have varied significantly throughout his matches.

Against Taylor Fritz, Tomas Martin Etcheverry and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Ruud found a way but his level from beginning to end was inconsistent and in each match there was at least one spell where he was the inferior player.

Slow starting and inconsistency is not going to help his cause against the great Djokovic. The Serbian is a shark who will bite you as soon as he smells blood.

Ask Francisco Cerundolo. Ask Lorenzo Musetti. Both looked to be on course for victory but couldn't get the job done. Ruud is asking for trouble if he isn't on it.

The odds on Djokovic to win this are simply too big. We don't know how impacted he will be by his knee complaint 48 hours later. He was moving fluidly in the deciding set.

At 1/12.00 it has to be Djokovic.

Now head to our Euro 2024 HUB for the best tips before the tournament!

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