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Djokovic warms up for another French Open crack at Nadal

| 19.05.2014

King of Clay Rafael Nadal’s French Open crown suddenly seems in danger of slipping after the eight-time champion blew a one-set lead against Novak Djokovic in the Rome Masters final, with the Serbian now just 11/8 to triumph for the first time at Roland Garros.

Nadal remains the favourite at 5/4, but with a fourth-round exit to eventual runner-up Robin Soderling five years ago the Spaniard’s only French Open defeat since 2004, that looks an indicatively-big price at this point.

The Madridsta still holds a 22-18 advantage over Djokovic in career wins, although the 26-year-old has now seen off Nadal in two finals since the end of March and clearly had too much for his opponent in Rome, having found another gear after a 4-6 first-set loss.

Djokovic bounced back to repeat his 6-3, 6-3 effort at the Sony Open in Miami seven weeks ago and with Nadal posting an unprecedented third clay-court defeat in 2014, a swing in momentum to the Serb seems to have occured.

A first French Open win would see Djokovic become the eighth man to win all four Grand Slam singles events, as he already holds four Australian Open titles, one US Open and one Wimbledon.

In the women’s event, Serena Williams – the last female singles player to achieve such a feat – heads the betting to retain the French Open at 5/4, with last year’s beaten finalist and 2012 champion Maria Sharapova next up at 4/1.

Their respective causes were boosted by the news that world number five and two-time Australian Open champ, Victoria Azarenka, will not return from injury in time to compete in Paris.

The Belarusian was narrowly beaten in last year’s semi-final, going down 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 to Sharapova in a match dubbed the ‘Battle of the Grunters’.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Alex Fortune